How do you deal with a team member who doesn't share information with you at the right time? On asking he gives one word replies and usually counter questions for more details on "what exactly do I want to know". And then pretends to not understand the question. He's generally like a sponge where he soaks up all information from you when he doesn't know something but doesn't respond back properly when he knows something. It gets more difficult to tolerate as the months go by.

Just to clarify the communication is done properly whenever I ask him questions. These aren't "what do you think of" kind of questions. These are pretty direct questions like "what is X", "How does Y work".

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    Without an explanation of how this is a project management question, this seems like an interpersonal issue that more properly belongs on Workplace Stack Exchange. Please check their FAQ and help center and see if your question would be on topic there.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Nov 27, 2014 at 17:15

3 Answers 3


Have you clearly communicated your problems with this person? I know I've assumed many times in the past that someone "just doesn't get it" but they really didn't understand what was important to me because it wasn't clearly communicated back to them.

If you do confront them about their communication style I would make sure to use a lot of "When you [their action], I feel like [your feelings]"

Do not attack who they are, just describe the implications of their actions. Make sure to do this in person and in a private setting.

Possible script: "I've been feeling a bit frustrated for the past (days, months, years). There have been a few occasions (make sure you have specific details) where I've found out after the fact that you were aware of key details that would have helped us (days, weeks, months, etc) ago but you didn't let us know. This makes me feel like you aren't paying attention to what is going on and I'm frustrated because this is (potentially) wasting time (for me and our team). Is there anything you need from me (or us) to be able to give us the information we need when we need it?"

  • With the added caveat that if they are unresponsive after clearly stating the needs of the organization, it might be time to find a replacement. Nov 29, 2014 at 20:08

The quality of communication is one of the determining factors of a project's success. There are many reasons why people don't communicate. This can be a trust issue. The person does not think you actually contribute to the project's success. This could also be that the person has only little to communicate, because the work done is not on par and through obfuscation tries to cover up that fact. No matter what it is you are in trouble.

I would take a page out form the agile playbook. All agile/lean methodologies have some form of "forced communication", such as the stand up meeting, the scrum or the huddle. A simple "What I did since last meeting? What do I plan to do next? Where do I have trouble?". If you extend it on the entire project team, the troublesome team member will not feel singled out. It may not be perfect, but at least you will get something out of the person.

Also regular 1v1 meetings may help. If you can keep it cordial, a nicer interpersonal relationship can develop with the team members and they may start to trust your more; including the uncommunicative one.

The important thing you need to consider is that you should gear your efforts in a way that does not single out the troublesome individual. If it is a trust issue, it will have the exact opposite effect, if that team member the "special treatment".


Taking this question under the umbrella of project management and assuming you are the project manager, you need to implement a timely intervention. As indicated in a previous answer, communication is critical and there are an infinite number of reasons--some of them being your fault--for this person's behavior. Since you are delivering a project, you do not have the luxury of an infinite amount of time to investigate the cause(s) and implement an intervention. That you said, 'as months go by', this implies that you have likely exhausted more than the available time you have to promote quality communications.

Notwithstanding you might be the root cause, which you should take a serious self examination for your future success, you need to remove the non working cog and replace it with another cog. Most here do not care for when I equate humans with cogs, but the fact remains, as a leader of a project, that you need to deploy all your resources, human and otherwise, that are fit for purpose and that are performing as expected. This is the cold side of leadership.

After a reasonable attempt to cure, replace. You can only accrue so much cost of intervention before the benefits will no longer make sense. And EVERYONE is replaceable, just like a cog. That is the analysis you need to make here.

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