Category Archives: Working styles

Subtle ways to p*** off your colleagues

Neuroscience is providing some interesting insights into why we behave the way we do at work. 

An example is the SCARF model devised by David Rock. Amongst other things, it gives us a better understanding of why people get fed up, cross, uncooperative, stressed etc.

The underlying idea of SCARF is that our basic flight/fight/avoid mechanism kicks in when we are in various work situations. It suggests that the way we respond is subconscious – it’s automatic, not reasoned and we often don’t realise what we’re doing! Sometimes people get p***ed off but don’t know why.

SCARF (it’s an acronym) suggests that we react badly (we fight, flee or avoid) when we perceive a threat to our:

Status – when our standing, position in the pecking order, seniority etc. is or seems to be challenged or undermined. At work this can happen when a responsibility or task is taken away, and it can happen when someone has a younger manager.

Certainty – when something we believed was fixed, certain, stable etc. is or seems to be changed. At work this can happen when a new system is introduced.

Autonomy – when the degree of control we have over our work is or seems to be lessened. At work this can happen when someone is micro-managed.

Relatedness – we naturally bond and form tribes, teams, groups and don’t like it when there’s a real or apparent shift in the internal relationships. At work this can happened when someone is expected to work with a new colleague, or when there’s a restructure to a team.

Fairness – we don’t like to be treated unfairly or to be disadvantaged. At work this can happen when a colleague receives a reward (perhaps performance related pay) or is or seems to be getting favourable attention from a manager.

There’s lots of possible overlaps, nuances and subtleties in the above categories. However, they can help us to understand why people sometimes get p***ed off when seemingly trivial things happen. They can help to identify some of the causes of low morale.

What have you done today to p*** off a colleague?

If you want to know more about SCARF see


If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or

‘I can’t work with that person!’

Have you ever found someone difficult to work with? Sure you have. We all have.

It’s a natural phenomenon because everyone has different character traits which show in their working styles and preferences. Sooner or later you’ll meet someone whose style is very different from yours, and that can be a problem.

At the moment I’m working with a team where my broad-brush approach and preference for quick decisions isn’t working well with some of the other team members. And my patience is being tested by someone who needs to thoroughly think things through before acting.

However, difference certainly isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, if it’s understood and taken into account it has very positive advantages. A team or small business with a broad range of character traits and working styles can be better than one with a narrow range.

A spread of traits carefully deployed in a team is as important as a spread of skills.

I used to work with someone who had an attention to detail that was second to none. It drove me mad until I realised that their way of working complemented mine – where I’d be a bit slapdash they’d ensure, for example, no document left the office with even the smallest punctuation or grammatical error. I initiated, they finished – we made a great team!

It’s so easy in that type of situation to knee-jerk and say: ‘I can’t work with that person!’ It’s much better to ask: ‘what is it about their style of working that differs from mine, and how does their style and approach help the team?’ Once you’ve asked that you have the option to change how you work together to gain maximum benefit from your different approaches. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but when it does it can be very productive.

Some of the common opposites and clash points in working styles and preferences are:

Facts – Ideas

Change – Stability

Starting – Finishing

Big picture – Detail

Knowing what’s coming – Surprise

Thinking before acting – Starting then thinking

Decisions based on analysis – Decisions based on values


If you want to know more about character traits and working preferences take a look at:

Myers Briggs Personality Types at

Belbin Team Roles at

Team Management Systems – (by the way, I’m licenced to deliver this pofile)

Vive la différence!

If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or