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19 September 2010

Tips to survive difficult workplaces

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 09:04

I’ve gathered in this article a number of reflections based on experience in difficult workplaces, which may be helpful to someone trying to succeed or simply survive…

  • When someone fiercely criticises others, including yourself, on a regular basis in meetings or when making presentations, this means that this person is lacking in self-confidence and is likely to be under a lot of pressure themselves.
    On the spot, address the criticism. It does not matter if you’re right or wrong. Just don’t let him or her get away with it. Confront them assertively.
    For next time, invite the person officially to contribute feedback in private, before the meeting or the presentation. Give them a lot of importance and the opportunity to comment once for all. Once they’ve been involved officially and their name is on the paper, they will defend it.
  • Kindly doing deeds for a person that is negative towards you, even when you don’t feel like it, will make them feel they owe you in return and is very powerful to make them change their mind towards you.
  • Being loyal to a manager means resolving misunderstandings or conflicts with him direct and in private, always, even when it requires courage. Speak openly. Expose your feelings. Never seek help with his manager or anybody else. In case of a heated argument, it is recommened however to wait until things have cooled down.
  • When a document needs to be reviewed, ask your manager if he/she wants to review it first, even if you think that they are busy or they’re not interested, as they may cope some of the blame if the document is to be criticised.
  • Introduce yourself spontaneously to people you don’t know in the workplace, show interest and make them feel welcome. They will have a lasting good first impression. In the contrary, they might develop uncertain and uncomfortable feelings towards you, especially in a difficult workplace.
  • Be assertive and firm with agressive people. Stand your ground. Respond however to attacks with the same intensity, not weaker nor stronger. It is a difficult equilibium to achieve, but the only one that may yield positive results in the long term.
  • Avoid complacency and look for opportunities to learn and improve all the time. Read, read and read some more.
  • Prefer face to face or even phone to email. In any way, don’t send an email to anyone with your boss or his boss in copy, unless it is a complement or very positive feedback. It will most likely be received as an attack on the other side, whatever your intention was in the first place.
  • If you are to give negative feedback about someone, make sure there is at least one person with some influence that is of a similar opinion. Be also very mindful of people networks. 
  • If you suddenly feel uncomfortable or somewhat embarrassed when having to express yourself or make a decision, it is a sign and one should trust his/her gut-feels. Take the time to understand where the feeling is coming from first, in order to have a clear view.
  • Evaluate the tasks that are given to you conscienciously, using your values in life as a reference. It is OK to decline to do some things based on your values.
  • One needs to have a good relationship with most of the managers above, in oder to have a chance to be promoted one day. This will be consolidated however by the good relationships established with the rest of the staff.
  • Respond to emails… acknowledge reception first if the reply is to take more than a couple of hours. Don’t let them wondering.

I also recommend the book Coping with Difficult People.

Finally and in general, it is recommended to stand on the side of over-communicating with kind and polite manners all the time.

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