Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Feedback Self-Insight Control Freaks Meetings Insecurity

One of the employees who report to me asks question after question, to the point of disrupting meetings and general conversations. I have been patient with him and tried to help him become a better listener, but nothing works. Can you offer any help?

A. When you have an employee who proffers up more questions than a game-show host, that is unquestionably difficult to handle. At the same time, it is only fair to look first at the way you are providing information to him. Perhaps he is a new employee or has special needs that call for further explanation, or perhaps your messages are not as universally clear as they seem.

If you are truly convinced that he should have no problem interpreting what you are saying, then it is time to meet with him since there is obviously something else going on. For example, some people use questions as a means of control. By asking a barrage of questions, they are able to influence the pace and direction of a discussion, the level of participation of others, and even the way the leader guides the session.

It is important for this individual to understand that you want employees to ask questions at any point. However, it is equally important for him to understand the impact that incessant questioning can have on the rest of the team and on his own present and future role in the department. Within this context, you should suggest some training in interpersonal relations and team-building for him. Importantly, whenever you see some improvement in his behavior, be sure to provide him with positive feedback. Such feedback often helps eliminate questionable behaviors.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!