Workplace arguments and disagreements.
We have all been there, I am sure. You strike up a conversation with a “friend” at work, and you start to hear things that you really do not want to know, or do want to know if you are that kind of person. The person telling you this usually starts off the conversation with prefaces like “Between you and me” or “don’t let this leave the room” or other silly little qualifiers like that.
Before falling into this trap, you must ask yourself… If this information is so “hush hush” then why does this person know? and then the obvious… if this person is so freely distributing these kind of facts, then how much of what I have told him/her has been distributed to others at my work?
These are logical questions, and also important ones to consider, especially when you have to take into account your position in the company you work for. If you are just another lowly employee, and have no aspirations to advance, then you might not have much to worry about. Stop and consider, however, if you are a supervisor or someone who plans on moving up in the company, and you happen to discuss delicate information with a person further down the chain that you consider a confidant? If that person does share the information with others, as is all-too-often the case, then you might be looking at job listings in your local EDD real soon. Trust me, I have seen things like this happen.
My only advise here is this. If a person comes to you and starts to share information that you consider to be of the nature I have described… stop them right there and politely explain that you are not interested in hearing rumors or gossip. They might take it badly, and if they do, you are more than welcome to explain why you feel this way, but you do not have to feel bad for doing it. You may, in fact, be saving either your or their job.
Friendships outside the workplace.
If you work with a group of people, and they like to do things together, that is fine. But keep in mind that even though you may not be at a company function, you are still going to have an affect on the opinion people have of you. It takes a special type of person to truly separate yourself from the people that you work with and keep that professional distance in a private event.
Personally, I do not associate with my fellow employees outside work. Don’t get me wrong, if I happen to be walking down the street or in a mall, and I see someone I work with, then I will be polite and say hello. But if I am at work and someone says, “Hey, you wanna go get a beer?” Then I will politely turn them down. I do not like to mix personal and business relationships… all too often there have been cases where they cause more problems than good. But that is my take, some people can do this, and do it well; successfully keeping the professional distance while still maintaining the peer-peer or peer-mentor relationship. If this is something you are good at, then more power to you… keep it up.
Attitude in the workplace.
This is one I have been bad about. I used to have a very bad temper, and I say “used to” with a catch. I still have a bad temper, but I now know to channel it. I take a walk…
People read a lot into how you act, or react, about things, and in doing so, gain insight as to what kind of employee you are. Managers see this as a sign of the kind of supervisor or team player you might be, and fellow employees see this as how approachable you are for help that they might need. I am still working on this, and I suppose it is something that I will always have to watch myself on. I also encourage the people that I work with to let me know if I begin to slip. In reality, the only way you ever learn that you have a communication problem, is if you are strong enough to listen to the criticism of others, and use it constructively.
On that note, I have never been a good communicator, so this is what I had to learn to overcome to be a better employee. How to talk to people in a manner that they would understand, and in a way that did not give them the feeling that I was talking down to them. No one likes to be spoken down to, fellow employees least of all.
My advice here is to always understand that we all have different skills and talents. Accept that you know what you know, and that the person you are talking to might know the same thing, but approach it from a different angle. Also understand that for every person you talk to that has no clue what you are trying to explain, they may also have knowledge that you do not hold. Treat them with respect, because one day you might need their help with something. If you establish a relationship of mutual respect, regardless of your rank in the company, then you will always win.
This brings to to the last point…
Yes… Aretha said it.
Respect is an important part of any job, but is needs to be earned. People go into a job or task expecting some level of respect, but sometimes they go about trying to earn it in the wrong way, usually by locating the people that they feel will help them advance, and kissing up to them, or by trying to be buddy-buddy with the right people. You must remember that respect and friendship are not the same thing, in fact they can be far from it. Friendship in the workplace is important, but respect is even more-so. You may not always like a person, but you can respect their knowledge or skills, likewise if the person is new, and inexperienced, you can respect their drive to learn or desire to do better. You will always win if you show or offer respect to others.
Never expect a person or group to automatically respect you. Demonstrate to them that you have a skill or quality that makes you a valuable asset. Do not “kiss up” to people, this is a process that almost always leads to some level of failure, because at some point you will be called to task, and the ass you are kissing may not be there for you. If you work hard to demonstrate that you know what you are doing, and do it well, most of the time you will gain respect without ever even looking for it.Â If you treat your fellow employees with respect, they will return the favor. If they see that you appreciate the work they do, and the skills they possess, then they will see you as an ally, and learn to respect you as well.
I am not an expert on any of this… and I am certainly no Ziggler or Robbins, but I would think that some of this would make sense and work for you. I encourage comments on this, and maybe even some of your own personal experiences.