Does this sound familiar? You’ve been griping for days about something that happened at work to anyone who’ll listen. Sure, it may feel good to get it off your chest, but let’s be honest, it’s not going to change anything at the office. If you really want to fix things, you need to be proactive. Don’t just wait for things to change, be the change. (Yes, we just paraphrased Gandhi there.)
Of course, it depends on your exact situation, but generally speaking, there are a few things you may try to make things a little easier at the office.
If you’re having a tough time with a co-worker, try that sage advice all moms hand out to their children when they’re being picked on at school: Kill them with kindness.
Smile, say good morning, and maybe bring in baked goods to share. Cindy wouldn’t dare be snide and cruel when you’re offering her a cupcake (and if she is, that will reflect poorly on her, not you).
If Cindy won’t accept a cupcake, or worse, she accepts it but she’s still nasty to you, it might be time to have a sit-down. Ask her what you might have done to offend her and how you can fix it. Be sure to keep a written record so you have all of your facts straight if it’s brought up in a future conflict resolution meeting.
If the situation still can’t be resolved between the two of you, it might be time to go to your manager for help. Some people are just more challenging to work with than others, and you don’t want to get pulled into their drama. When dealing with them, try not to be judgmental or to change their way of thinking. Those tactics are rarely successful. We all have different ideas and ways of doing things, which is why there can be so many problems to begin with.
If the problem is office gossip, do not participate.
No office is immune from gossip. People are going to talk, and they may even talk about you. But the best thing you can do to maintain a good reputation and remain credible is to not take part in it. Eventually, the gossip will die down and your coworkers will move on to discussing something else.
If the gossip is of a remarkably personal nature or potentially professionally damaging to your career, it might be time to go to HR or your manager to make them aware of the issue.
If you were dating a co-worker and things have gone south, you don’t have to quit your job.
Agree to be professional. Even if things didn’t end on the best note, you’re both adults and can figure this out.
For starters, don’t talk to your co-workers about your ex. If they ask you questions, politely tell them it’s a personal matter and you’d rather not discuss it at work. In other words, avoid gossiping!
Don’t talk with your ex about personal matters at work. Don’t punish them with snide comments or sarcastic remarks. In other words, don’t stir up drama in the workplace. It’s unprofessional and it makes everyone at work feel awkward.
You should also avoid using work email to communicate with your ex. If you work for a large company, they may monitor inter-office communication. Keep your personal and professional lives separate by using your personal email for communications instead.
Breakups are never easy, even if they are mutual. Time really will make things easier, so until that day comes, put more effort into your work, get involved in a work project, and maybe earn some extra overtime pay.
If your problem is with your boss, that’s a little trickier, and also depends on the issue.
But let’s assume they are heaping a ton of extra work on you. First, see if there’s anything you can do to prioritize your tasks. Maybe rearranging a few things will fix the problem for you. If not, is there an intern or someone you can delegate to? If none of those things fixes your problem, go to your boss with a plan in mind, and ask them if they can help you prioritize or find a workaround.
If you are experiencing flat-out bullying from your boss, you may need to go above them to get a resolution to your issue. Talk to HR, being sure to ask if your complaint can be made anonymously to avoid retribution. If your boss is bullying you, there is a good chance that there are others in the office who have also been bullied. Pointing out this pattern of behavior can often result in a positive outcome for both you and the rest of your co-workers.
If you’ve done everything you can do and things aren’t getting any better, you may ask about telecommuting. A lot of companies offer that as an option these days. Even if your boss won’t let you work from home full-time, maybe management would consider allowing you to split your time between the office and home: three days at the office and two at home. If not, perhaps they’d consider letting you work from home one day a week.
Quitting your job is a last resort, but it may be what you’re left with. If that’s the case, remember that how you leave a job says a lot about you. You don’t want to announce, “I quit,” and walk out the door! It’s standard practice to give two weeks’ notice when you leave your job, but if you’ve got a contract that stipulates otherwise, you must adhere to that. It’s also advisable to tell your boss before you tell your co-workers. You wouldn’t want your boss to find out through the office gossip that you’re leaving.
And keep this in mind when dealing with any sticky situation in life or at the office:
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”Charles Swindoll