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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Please can someone give me advice on how to manage my ESTJ colleague? She is not a bad person, but she has this urgent need to order and control everything and everyone around her non-stop. After spending an hour with this colleague I feel like I've been run over by a steamroller. She opens her mouth and talks non-stop, often over me, in a way that undermines me in front of others (not intentionally, just 'naturally'!!!). I don't know what to do. The only thing that seems to help is when I take command myself in a forceful and directive way like her, but this isn't my style at all and utterly exhausts me, it also feels completely inauthentic to me. I'm not young, I have a lot of experience of difficult colleagues, but this one takes the biscuit (and she's not even trying to be mean!).

For additional context, she orders and controls everyone else around her too, but many people don't mind as they are happy for her to take over their work for them. But in my case, I'm actually her senior manager (not line manager) and she should be deferring to me, but she can't stop talking long enough to listen, and I'm slower than she has the patience to wait for me to reflect and get my thoughts out. I feel so drained by having to interact with this lady every day.
 

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Boy do I relate! When I first joined PerC it was my mission to figure out how to deal with ESTJs and those were my first posts. I even went to the ESTJ forum about it, but they didn't answer me then. They DO want to feel like they are in charge of everything and "conquering". So she's feeling like she's on top of her game now, believe me. She'll feel like she's slacking if she isn't telling you exactly what to do and how. They justify this and think it's needed and that this is their gift to the world (actually they think people should be super grateful to them for this)... and it's hell trying to convince them otherwise.
My big problem is when they aren't listening and they are making arbitrary decisions that don't actually work at all. (The poor people who are under her, right!?) So maybe she takes time to take in information? But it sounds like for sure she doesn't on some level. The advice I get from many is to watch them crash and burn because they didn't take time to get their info and then the ESTJ might actually take a second to blink where you could jump in. I have heard from people who deal with the biggest ESTJ bulls (most aggressive ESTJs) that this is the only thing to be done. But this ESTJ might be a bit more moderate, and you are her supervisor which usually they respect at some level. However, if you let her steamroll you (exactly how I describe my ESTJ steamroller mother-in-law) then they just want to keep doing it. They think there is a need for it. If you haven't steamrolled yourself in front of their eyes today, you're ready for a good steamrolling from them. Anyway, ESTJs are tricky as all get out and soul-crushing for someone like myself. I sincerely am sorry--- and also I hear you almost have to just keep standing up for yourself and PROVING you can do your job yourself by calling them out on everything they do wrong in a very direct way. This is the only way to gain their respect.... and am I able to do this???? No, not at all. It's why we moved states to get away from my mother-in-law! >< It's also one of the best decisions we ever made.... =) xoxoxoxo, hun.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your commiserations @Alesha . I can imagine with in-laws it must be even more frustrating and complicated. What a relief that you could move away! I've only just started my job recently so feel I'm stuck for a little while at least. I'm not this ESTJ's supervisor, I'm just in a more senior role to her, so I guess that's partly why she ignores me. The organisational structure is complicated:confused:

I must have been thinking about it in my sleep because I woke up with two specific things I'd like to point out to my colleague. 1. Every time she starts a sentence in a meeting with "I haven't discussed this with Songs, but I would say that you should do [xyz]", she should just NOT say what she's about to say, because clearly it's not her place to dictate what my opinion should be on the matter, and 2. When she states her opinion [on something that is my area of responsibility] and then asks me in front of the client whether I agree, I'm stuck between contradicting her or saying she's wrong in front of our client, or of course just agreeing and appearing like I'm surplus to requirements, i.e. useless.

I think I am really going to have to start being more tough, and perhaps let her suffer the humiliation a little of being contradicted in public if she is going to keep acting like I can't do my job for myself. Otherwise I will feel like I have consented to let her walk all over me and wipe her dirty shoes on me too.
 

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Thanks for your commiserations @Alesha . I can imagine with in-laws it must be even more frustrating and complicated. What a relief that you could move away! I've only just started my job recently so feel I'm stuck for a little while at least. I'm not this ESTJ's supervisor, I'm just in a more senior role to her, so I guess that's partly why she ignores me. The organisational structure is complicated:confused:

I must have been thinking about it in my sleep because I woke up with two specific things I'd like to point out to my colleague. 1. Every time she starts a sentence in a meeting with "I haven't discussed this with Songs, but I would say that you should do [xyz]", she should just NOT say what she's about to say, because clearly it's not her place to dictate what my opinion should be on the matter, and 2. When she states her opinion [on something that is my area of responsibility] and then asks me in front of the client whether I agree, I'm stuck between contradicting her or saying she's wrong in front of our client, or of course just agreeing and appearing like I'm surplus to requirements, i.e. useless.

I think I am really going to have to start being more tough, and perhaps let her suffer the humiliation a little of being contradicted in public if she is going to keep acting like I can't do my job for myself. Otherwise I will feel like I have consented to let her walk all over me and wipe her dirty shoes on me too.
Here's a ENFP /ESTJ discussion. I found it very helpful, maybe you will too. @nicoloco90 I'm summoning you here in case you have further insights for Songs Unsung and to tell you thanks again for that early discussion-- before you were my son! =) <3 I'm luckily truly out from under ESTJ power and am pretty much all healed up from all this now.

http://personalitycafe.com/enfp-forum-inspirers/1162049-enfp-estj-dynamic.html
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here's a ENFP /ESTJ discussion. I found it very helpful, maybe you will too. @nicoloco90 I'm summoning you here in case you have further insights for Songs Unsung and to tell you thanks again for that early discussion-- before you were my son! =) <3 I'm luckily truly out from under ESTJ power and am pretty much all healed up from all this now.

http://personalitycafe.com/enfp-forum-inspirers/1162049-enfp-estj-dynamic.html

Thanks, Alesha and for sharing the thread. It really is helpful to know that I'm not the only person feeling this way about this kind of behaviour. Thankfully I feel reasonably secure in my area of practice, so I don't feel intimidated by this ESTJ. But the interactions and 'battles' I have with the ESTJ really wear me down and make me dread the next. Also, I feel that my not being able to temper the ESTJ's behaviour in external meetings ultimately undermines me.

In one meeting, our key supplier made a request which I thought deserved some reflection and analysis of the data. I knew the ESTJ was going to plunge into giving her decision anyway [even though she has no authority to make that decision], so I jumped in first and told the supplier that we would discuss internally OUTSIDE of the meeting before coming back with our decision. My ESTJ colleague, confident that she knew better, nonetheless went straight into forcefully saying "Well, we will discuss outside the meeting, but I'm going to tell you what I think anyway....." and then went into a tirade that I couldn't stop. It was exasperating.
 

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You need to have a private meeting with her and tell her these two problems you have with her. You are above her in the ranking, and these undermine your authority.

And stop agreeing with her in front of clients. Even if you do, rephrase what she said in your own way directly to the customer. Look friendly to the client and like you are the more knowledgeable one in the situation. Talk a lot, don't just agree. Make it annoying for her. Let her annoyance make her look less in control than you, since she isn't controlling herself. Then she will be eager to have that private conversation with you—If she is upset and you are calm, you already have the upper hand.

You use an Extraverted Judging function just like she does. Use it. Be decisive and demand what is right. It won't drain you day after day to launch a quick and deadly attack.
 

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@Songs unsung. How is this going now? I’m glad this got a thread bump because I was thinking of it just the other day.
 
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Aaahhhhh.... difficult colleagues, what a pain! :crying:

How’s it going now? Any improvements? Did she calm down a little?
Thanks for asking! And thanks @Alesha for remembering:happy:

I've actually been meaning to come back to this thread for a while now and update.

The week after my last post here, I decided I needed a break and purposefully excluded this colleague from my meetings and also did not join her meetings. Long story short, this seems to work very well, as she has her own empire and I'm no longer a part of it, i.e. she no longer feels the need to control and order me.

We are actually working very well together now, mostly by not doing any work together but just regularly touching base. I have regular catch ups with her, and in the last few catch ups I've noticed that she's started treating them as though she is reporting to me, which I find odd. She actually gives me an update on her work and says things like 'Oh, what else have I been doing. Oh yes, XYZ". I don't know why, I think perhaps she actually enjoys telling people about her work, to anyone who will listen.

She has also started deferring to me in meetings that we do have together, and no longer argues with me. I'd like to think that she has started to respect me for my work and my ability, and accepted that I am just different to her but I am still competent in different ways. She even said a while back how she'd like to take things in and think about them more deeply too but she doesn't have time because she's too busy. I do respect her for her competence, and I think her ability to respond quickly and be action focused is a gift. Her department owes her a debt of gratitude for the way she has helped them in so many ways. I'd like to think that my genuine respect for her and her contribution comes through, and allows her to return the favour so to speak.

This doesn't mean that I would be happy to be managed by this lady or return to the dynamic we had when I first started and the following months. I would feel completely crushed and exhausted. But from a distance I can say that I appreciate her sincerely and can work effectively with her to do good work.

In short, the way I have overcome my situation is as far as possible to remove myself from her day to day, and to clarify the line between us in terms of areas of responsibility. She has autonomy in her role, and she leaves me alone to get on with mine!
 

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In short, the way I have overcome my situation is as far as possible to remove myself from her day to day, and to clarify the line between us in terms of areas of responsibility. She has autonomy in her role, and she leaves me alone to get on with mine!
Oh, I'm glad to hear it! What's more I think you should be really proud of yourself for figuring out how to change what was going on. This sounds healthy to me, and also what a nice end to the story that you can feel respect for her and also respected!
When i have to deal with mine again I'll come back and ask for advice! lol Oh but I hope I don't have to.... /knock on wood.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks @Alesha . Well, I guess my solution is still kind of 'avoiding'! But it works. I knew I couldn't change to be someone else on a longer term basis without it wearing me out. I needed to find a way to remain true to my own nature, and if it didn't work go find another job instead. I hope your situation with your mother in law doesn't become challenging again too! x
 

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I love the way you tell your story. Very mature and respectful. I wish we could have her side and hear the great qualities she sees in you and how she sees your differences in managing styles. You are very insightful. Happy to see things are good again!
 

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The thing with ESTJs is that in every relationship someone has to set the boundaries. ESTJs are all about that and if you're not the one setting them, they will.
In a roundabout way, you have started to set boundaries for the working relationship and the ESTJ has accepted this. That she starts to treat you as a superior means that she trusts your judgment and sees you as a professional who is getting the job done. That's pretty much perfect.

ESTJs aren't hard people to get in line actually. As long as you have your shit together and things get done, they're fine with having others take the lead. ESTJs are fine with having a chain of command, as long as the right people are in charge. If you're seen as incompetent they'll start ignoring you though.

In any case, glad to hear things are working out. I would suggest trying to formalise the work relationship in some way. Structure the meetings and information, have hard deadlines and check in with her where she's standing with things.
You're probably already doing stuff like this, but it's good with ESTJs to make sure everything is clear and written out. Everything that's open to interpretation is a target to be filled in on their own. That can be good in some situations, but it's good not to assume too much.

I've learned a lot from working with an ESTJ for over a year now. My ESTJ is a bit different (even if we call him "the wrecking ball"). He defaults to accepting decisions from others rather than challenging them beforehand. He also prefers listening to talking usually, which is a lot easier in communication. The rules for working with ESTJs seems to apply everywhere though. Make sure things are running smooth and getting done and they will be fine with letting you take the lead.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
@specofturquoise Thanks for your very kind comments!

@Drecon Thanks for taking time to give advice and guidance. It's very helpful to hear about your own experience. I do admire my ESTJ colleague for her efficiency and super level of dedication. She sounds very different to your ESTJ, though, as she definitely prefers to talk and will talk over people. But, I'm not actually her line manager so I think your approach is not necessary in our relationship. I am senior in rank but we belong and report to different departments. Really, I'd rather she just get on with her job and let me get on with mine, which is what we do now, although touch base regularly. I think the level of structure we have in place is enough. We are both very structured people anyway. I really need my own space at work, and like to give space to others in the same way. I don't think I'd like a job where I actually needed to be as proactive as you suggest, although I accept it may be very effective in the right circumstances.
 

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The way I see it, rivers can't be stopped up, but they can be directed. You're her manager. Delegate.
 

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Ah. Well, my advice was honestly general, but I assumed that it could be directly applied from your position as manager. Either way, I find the best method to deal with those steamroller type people is to find ways for them to be useful that don't interfere with me and my process. Then they feel accomplished and in control and I don't have to worry about 'em.
 

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@specofturquoise Thanks for your very kind comments!

@Drecon Thanks for taking time to give advice and guidance. It's very helpful to hear about your own experience. I do admire my ESTJ colleague for her efficiency and super level of dedication. She sounds very different to your ESTJ, though, as she definitely prefers to talk and will talk over people. But, I'm not actually her line manager so I think your approach is not necessary in our relationship. I am senior in rank but we belong and report to different departments. Really, I'd rather she just get on with her job and let me get on with mine, which is what we do now, although touch base regularly. I think the level of structure we have in place is enough. We are both very structured people anyway. I really need my own space at work, and like to give space to others in the same way. I don't think I'd like a job where I actually needed to be as proactive as you suggest, although I accept it may be very effective in the right circumstances.
In that case your current strategy is probably the best. No chance of a power struggle or anything like that, just peaceful cooperation.

I think all types vary greatly based on background. An ESTJ that has always gotten their way just through doing it will have a completely different outlook from the one that has constantly be held back for various reasons. My ESTJ has ADHD and has met with some failure due to impulsiveness (although he's doing fine at the moment, he's a great collegue to have). The result is that he's hesitant to take a leading role in new situations. He's great in familiar terrain but likes to take a backseat until he knows what's going on.
I think every person has a very interesting story where personality, environment and other factors collide. You can't really understand someone from knowing just one of all of these factors. You need all of them to know them.
 

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@Songs unsung. Yes, I’d have to do that much work (the amount of work described above) with my ESTJ mother-in-law and I’d have to then keep doing it and I’d have to kick and scream and feel completely justified doing that every step of the way. Since I try to keep a calm respectful demeanor and since I tend to be quiet and forgiving when I find bad behavior in others it was not really going to happen. However, I’m really glad we (you and I) got to bond over it! Also I’m really lucky that my husband finally made that separation too on his own and not because of anything she did to me. So there’s that! :).
 
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Discussion Starter #20
@Songs unsung . Yes, I’d have to do that much work (the amount of work described above) with my ESTJ mother-in-law and I’d have to then keep doing it and I’d have to kick and scream and feel completely justified doing that every step of the way. Since I try to keep a calm respectful demeanor and since I tend to be quiet and forgiving when I find bad behavior in others it was not really going to happen. However, I’m really glad we (you and I) got to bond over it! Also I’m really lucky that my husband finally made that separation too on his own and not because of anything she did to me. So there’s that! :).
That sounds terrible, Alesha. I really don't think I could stay in my job for long if I had to force myself to be forceful constantly, I prefer to influence quietly and almost imperceptibly. Whereas my ESTJ colleague makes clear immediately that she is a force to be reckoned with. It's been the biggest relief to me that she has changed her approach towards me, and even treats me with much consideration and respect now. I think an important factor in my situation though is that my ESTJ colleague's heart is in the right place, and she is very competent. It would be very different if she was not competent and I had to resolve issues with her performance. Many people who have worked with her for a few years now respect and appreciate her for the difference that she makes. A few people hate her too, but she is really not at all as bad as first impressions might make, and has some exceptional positive qualities I can see. I can still only take small doses of interaction with her before I begin to feel run over (by the sheer force of her talking, even just enthusiastically), but thankfully I do only have limited interaction now so it works.

I'm glad we got to bond a little too over our common misery, and also find the appropriate distance from our respective ESTJs to retain our sanity :)
 
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