Once in our lifetime we all plan on finally going up to a boss and ranting to them about the annoying co-worker that plays really loud music, the receptionist who goes overboard with the hugs, the manager who keeps giving their work to you and the poor yet inaccurate performance review your boss gave you. But then your brain freezes when you finally walk up to your boss and you return back to your cubicle upon saying “good morning,”
Familiar? Yes, because many people experience this at work. But in order to be successful, fuming and raving at your boss might just only cost you your job. That being said, some situations cannot be ignored either, especially if they’re impacting your work environment, it's likely to impact your productivity and wellbeing too. Instead you can route your response and redirect the situation to gain control.
Here are 5 tricky work situations and ways on how you can deal with them:
Situation #1: When someone takes credit for your idea/work
Daisy suggested a tagline for their new poster during a lunch discussion, later that day, James paraphrases and states the same idea in the board meeting and gets rewarded by praises as all executives end up loving the idea.
If you were in Daisy’s shoes I’m sure you’d be furious, but getting mad or complaining to the boss later might not be the most professional move.
Solution: With 77% men and 85% women voting for “taking credit for other employees work” as the most unacceptable behaviour, it is essential to respond to them rather than ignoring them(Check out 7 things bosses do that employees hate). Throw them with a sneaky “thanks for highlighting and bringing forward my point, ” this would provide you with the ownership of your idea as it hints the team with the brains behind it while also coming off as arrogant.
It's important to also consider the California Privacy Rights Act with this argument, as in certain situations your colleagues may not just be in violation of workplace ethics, but also the law. You can later take the lead and expand upon your idea in detail and voila the shift of praises will be redirected back to you!
Situation #2: When you’re asked to stay late and you have personal commitments
Ashley is a physician at a local clinic and a single mother of a 3 year old boy. Ashley’s shift gets over at 5 PM and she has to hurry to make it home by 5:30 PM as the babysitter needs to be succeeded. Ashley’s colleague requests if she can stay for an extra hour and Ashley struggles to deny the request as she fears being pictured with poor work ethic and professionalism.
Solution: If you cannot arrange for the nanny to stay a little longer, then it is completely alright to say no to the offer. Instead, in an apologetic tone, state that “you would have loved to help but you have a personal obligation to attend.” Specifying a family urgency might not be required and if asked where you’re headed to, respond by stating that this was scheduled before this meeting was called for and that you would catch up the next day, This would also show that you prioritise your personal duties and have a work-life balance, without coming off as uncooperative.
Situation #3: You have to give negative feedback to someone you‘re close to
Sasha and Jessica are best mates in the HR department, Sasha is new to the job and Jessica is the HR head. On her new project, Sasha had to work with another colleague Jason. He approached Jessica discussing how Sasha has been a difficult co-worker and Jason has to end up doing most of the work. Jessica is confused on how to take this further as she doesn't want to come off as dominant to her friend.
Solution: To begin with, start with an honest compliment like “You adapted to the company with utmost ease” and then later in a calm, friendly tone let Sasha know of the situation and state that “you’re there to help her.” Do not let go of this talk though, remember to maintain professionalism first and to keep personal and professional boundaries. In fact, giving negative feedback is proven to increase performance when specific, so don’t beat around the bush and come straight to the point!
Situation #4: Your manager keeps giving you more & more work
Mike as part of his initial agreement was supposed to handle 2 assignments but lately his manager has been giving him his own work and has resulted in him working over time as well as on the weekends.
Solution: The best way to tackle this scenario is set up a time with your employer and discuss how your workload has gone up significantly. Especially, how you’ve been having to work on weekends leaving no personal time for yourself and suggest alternatives that you can help out with certain projects and how increasing the number might affect the quality of your work too.
Or else if you think you can take up those responsibilities but aren’t getting paid enough for it, you should also discuss that. Something like “I’m glad you think I’m capable of these projects- it sounds like a big responsibility and I’m ready for this challenge. I think we should look at my compensation package in light of these new responsibilities, when would be a good time to look over these things together” would work greatly in your favour too, more work= more pay, sounds like a fair deal!
Situation #5: The co-workers around are messing with your productivity
Part 1: Gracy is surrounded by a team of gossipers, even post lunch the chatting of other employees doesn’t seem to come to a pause and Gracy’s excuse of stomach aches is now getting old, causing her work efficiency to dampen up.
Part 2: Daniel sits next to Derek who plays extremely loud music, leading to Daniel not being able to focus on his work.
Solution: Know it is alright to not get along with all your co-workers, a workplace can have differing personalities and sharing a space with someone different from you can often pose some challenges with adjusting.
In both cases, communicating your problem is crucial in solving it. If the gossip is getting too much, a simple “I love chatting with you, but I have this task to finish and if we can discuss this later please” or if you’re not interested at all then a clear indication like “I’m trying to change my attitude about work and keep my environment positive, mind if we talk about something else” would work wonders and definitely result in them zipping up.
In the second case, Daniel should politely request Derek by phrasing the conversation like “It’s a little hard for me to focus when there’s music playing. Mind putting in some headphones?” would hint him to do so, and reduce your distractions too. If that doesn’t work, put on earphones or you can always seek for other quiet places to work in around the office.
With nearly 70% admit they feel distracted at work and 85% of people being dissatisfied with their working environment and can’t concentrate as they lose 86 minutes a day due to distractions, it’s clear that minimising workplace distractions should be a prime concern for companies as well as individuals. But you also need to understand that not all distractions will be gone in one fluke, and if you want to use your time productively and effectively, it's on you to understand what’s distracting you. So figure that out and work towards eliminating those tricky situations- because not just your productivity and performance but your wellbeing and stress levels are at stake here!