Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's not you, it's me

Yesterday was not a stylish day--we worked an event in the morning that had us all in t-shirts, jeans, and sneaks and most of us didn't bother to change out of them for the short hours of work left afterward.  So today I'm going to touch on a more professional topic: dealing with those that have "wronged" you at work.

What do I mean by wronged?  Well, it could be lots of things.  The coworker that didn't give you credit when it was due, the supervisor from the other department that gave you an assignment and got mad when your supervisor pushed back (there's a reason each employee usually only has one supervisor; I'm lucky to have a really really good one).  However small or large the incident is, how do you deal with it afterward?  What happens when you see the person in another situation, say in line at the coffee shop downstairs or at an event you're both working?

Bottom line is: there is a big difference between most peoples' work personas and their actual personalities.  Imagine how you are at work...there are probably lots of things you do at work that you would not do in your home (in terms of organizing your schedule and managing your peers or employees).  At the same time, there are a lot of things that may be part of your day-to-day non-work life that just would not fly in the office.  The same goes for every single one of your coworkers.

While some people do just happen to have difficult personalities, those that may wrong you just once or twice, no matter how large, really may just not have a clue.  Many of them could be really nice people, people you may want to befriend.  Everyone is guilty of a social or professional faux pas every now and again.

Some tips for dealing with a some-time troublemaker:
  • Take a deep breath and remind yourself--it was a single action, not a habitual offense.
  • They don't know you well enough to have meant it as a personal attack.
  • Think about the other parts of their personality that might be nicer and pull from those feelings to interact with the person.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the incident in a non-work setting.  If you must confront, set some time with the person to discuss the incident specifically, and say so.  Do not ambush them.
  • If you are one or more personnel removed from the other individual, keep communication clear and rational with the middle person.  They are your key to either advocating for you or telling you the truth about your actions.
  • Keep your emotions in check.  Always.
  • Don't let your feelings about a particular incident or project affect other unrelated projects you may be working on together.

Let's face it--it's hard to detach yourself from your own feelings.  But in the workplace, stress, ambition, and reputation drives many to take actions they wouldn't normally take.  Or maybe it's just that they forgot to be considerate.  Regardless, you can rise above the fray, and your impeccable handling of an awkward situation can reflect well on your professional acumen.


1 comment:

  1. stuff like this happens to me all the time, probably because i mostly do volunteer work so a lot of people feel like normal work rules / etiquette don't apply (but they do!!). i usually first mentally compose an angry email. after i've cooled off, a day or two, i write the actual email. i use formal language only and always thank them for something in the end (for anything even closely related) so that the letter ends on a "positive" note. then i wait a few hours, reread it, and send it off.

    as you said, it's very important to keep your emotions in check! you will be working with this person later, so don't make every future interaction an uncomfortable one.


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