No one likes dealing with difficult situations – especially the most awkward and heated ones – in the workplace but unfortunately they are part and parcel of our working life. With so many different personalities holding different views, vying to get things done, while climbing the corporate ladder, it can’t be helped that someone will get offended along the way. In fact, you might even inadvertently offend someone!
You don’t have to let all that office drama and politics get in the way of your career, nor should you allow them to turn you into someone that would cause dismay to your own parents. There are ways of dealing with these issues while keeping your dignity and integrity intact. Below are tips for success you can use as guidelines when dealing with office difficulties.
1. A personal email reaches everyone, including the boss. One of the most difficult situations and perhaps the most commonly committed error is when a personal email gets mistakenly sent to others. As an example, imagine that in your haste to email your spouse that you want the babysitter fired because you suspect she’s been going through your underwear dresser, you didn’t see that you had clicked “reply to all” on a business message. Now everyone on that list knows about your babysitter rifling through your unmentionables! Don’t panic. One of the tips for success for dealing with such an embarrassing predicament is to message each recipient individually. Give a quick apology then ask them to respect your privacy and keep the contents of the email under wraps.
2. A coworker criticizes you and you overhear it. Some of the most difficult situations can also be hurtful. Your colleague attacks the quality of your work in the lobby and you just happen to be within earshot. Do you stride over to him and criticize him in turn? Never stoop to that person’s level. Instead, let him know in private that you overheard him criticizing you. Steer clear of strong language, which not only sabotages your efforts to follow these tips for success, but also robs you of your professionalism. Next, say something along the lines like, “I overheard your comments about my work in the last project we did. I’d like to discuss this issue with you so you can understand why I chose those methods and also to find out where you think I did wrong so I can improve myself.”
3. Your team’s report contains erroneous information as facts. Get over your embarrassment quickly by acknowledging the mistakes and thanking the person who pointed them out. Give an apology and assure them that you will rectify matters. One of the most effective tips for success covering this scenario is to work on REDEEMING yourself. Show the top brass that you will do all you can within your mandate to compensate for the mistake and correct it as soon as possible. When you put yourself in difficult situations you inadvertently created, only you can save yourself.
4. You need to extend the meeting and people are impatient and eager to leave. Corporate meetings can pose difficult situations where the challenge is to make people listen AND stay! So if the meeting was supposed to end at four o’clock but you need another twenty minutes to cover a crucial subject, follow one of the tips for success for making people say yes to an extension: accentuate the positive. Here’s an example: “So in order to get this project started tomorrow, I just need your input on the budget before we adjourn. It will take only twenty minutes to get those details in order and give the green flag to the project team.”
5. A subordinate suddenly whisks you to face an angry client. Dealing with furious clients face to face is not only one of the most difficult situations you can encounter as a manager, it is also one of the most nerve wracking. It becomes worse when a subordinate fails to deal with the client and puts you on the spot without going through proper escalation protocols. The best thing to do is to remember one of the tips for success specific to this situation: Don’t tell the person to calm down. Instead, assure him right off the bat that as the manager, you will do all you can to address his concern. Telling a client to calm down is akin to telling a whining child to pipe down, so remember to use words that sound more professional. Then discuss his issue in a room where you can have privacy. Don’t forget to take notes!
As you progress in your career and tackle more difficult situations, you will realize that dealing with them is all a matter of confidence and diplomacy while sticking to what you believe is moral and ethical. The corporate world can be a harsh place, but if you work hard and play things smart by following the aforementioned tips for success, you will come out on top.