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Defusing the 5 Trickiest Workplace Situations

Defusing the 5 Trickiest Workplace Situations

Jeff Hindenach | GovCentral

May 26, 2010

The workplace can be a political minefield. While you may all work as a team, you’re all most concerned with your own job,right? How your bosses see you can determine a raise, a promotion — or even if you keep your job. Navigating office politics is not an easy task, but avoiding potentially negative situations should be your first priority.

If you find yourself trapped in one of these situations, you need to know how to best defuse it with minimal damage to your professional reputation. Here are some tips on how to get out of five of the most common workplace minefields.

In the Middle of an Office Argument

Whether a coworker is ranting at you about his boss or you get caught right in the middle of a shouting match, the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut. Taking sides in a situation like this can only lead to trouble. If a coworker is just venting to you, be empathetic but don’t agree with them. You never know who is going to be promoted, and you don’t want to be on the bad side of your new boss. Similarly, if an argument is raging around you, resist the temptation to join. In office inter-personal battles, nobody wins.

Assigned a Project You Don’t Know How to Do

You never want to tell your boss that you can’t perform a task, but if she assigns you something outside of your working knowledge, what are your options? Depending on how tight the deadline is, you probably have time to do some research. Pull from as many sources as possible so you at least have an idea of how to the task correctly. If you can’t find any experts on the subject, suck it up and resort to asking a coworker for help. Just make sure they are reliable and won’t rat you out. You have the resources to complete any task inside you, you just need to not panic and keep a calm head.

Next Page: You’re in Trouble for Messing Up


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  • T128_1__max50

    gregv62

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I agree diplomatic is always the way to go dont let your emotions get away with u think with clear head..

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tiredreamer

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I say we just deal the best way we can, in life, anything can happen.

  • Fox_in_snow_max50

    Naturen

    almost 4 years ago

    16 comments

    What if your supervisor trashes one within earshot of other employees walking by or in nearby cubicled offices?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    edkarl

    about 4 years ago

    4 comments

    Hah. funny. TRose is right. Anyway - this article is helpful when you consider how many terrible instances of work-place violence we see in the news. I hope everyone is taking notes - "Diplomatic" is the key word. Why escalate something when it really helps no one. I don't mean being passive or not defending one-self, in an honorable way. It seems a lot of people assume "defending oneself" means trying to emulate (take your pick - Dirty Harry, Rambo, etc.) Instead, if people were to think a little harder for the better way, they would at least realize that either 1. they are right and don't need to stress out - just explain, or 2. they are wrong and should improve what they are doing or how they go about doing it.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TRose

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Implying that someone might have a female boss is a perfectly reasonable thing to do in an article like this. Especially when you're writing for a general audience and covering a topic that can occur in many different workplaces. It's true, sometimes men have female bosses whether you like it or not.
    If you're going to complain about someone being "uber-sensitive," you might want to take steps to make sure you aren't being that way yourself. If one pronoun can set you off, you probably need to chill out.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Disco58

    about 4 years ago

    24 comments

    I thought it was interesting that this article was written by a guy, but in the second situation 'Assigned a task you don't know how to do' he refers to the boss as 'she' Jeff, are you really that PC or just a victim of the feminizing of society? You need to get a bigger pair, or get yours back from whatever woman cut them off. As far as sexual harassment goes, if it's so vague you can't figure it out on your own, shut the hell up. I've seen people fired for very innocuous comments, when the uber-sensitive "victim" ran screaming to the boss or HR. One situation was that the comment was nothing more than he liked her perfume, and he was history.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tekctrl

    about 4 years ago

    24 comments

    You left out "Someone taking credit for your accomplishments"! I had a FT employee taking credit for my (contractor) accomplishments. When I complained to our mutual manager, he fired Me. Don't think that it doesn't happen, or would never happen to you. It does, and it can.

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