How to kill some coworkers and get away with it

4 11 2008
Fallin Down (1993)

Fallin Down (1993)

Some days ago I was engaged on a bizarre conversation: what things raise our blood pressure and incites us to fantasize about turning into William ‘D-fens” Foster. As persuasive as it might be to talk about the negative aspects of live, I thought it would be of more value to share the ways I resist “Office Rage”.

Part I of this post treats two issues that occur within the workspace and can trigger the rage in others, a following post will work around situations outside the office that, if not accounted and faced, can also turn you into the company hulk*.

The habits and tendencies that help some cope with their work might mean  torture for others. Every office has a ___ (knuckle cracker, compulsive whistler, babbler, etc), you now the type: the gal or guy who has that habit everyone laughs about at the after parties and in reality is someone’s cloaked time bomb. In all likelihood most co workers suffer in silence or sigh once she stops and your hummer has no idea she is annoying everyone. If you are part of the sufferers, be brave, step up and talk to her; chances are, assuming you are tactful and considerate while presenting the issue, she will be grateful someone pointed her the frustrating habit and she will either tackle it head on or at least be aware of it and will turn it down a little once she feels the craves building up.

Some blindly believe over communication and exposure is the means to attain an end. As every single day, immediately after arrival, the office shy guy sits on his comfort air chair and happily opens his  inbox and all in a sudden you seem him at someone else face blaring something by this lines “this is the last time you’ve played this f-!”#!ing act on me, there is no need to copy the holy trinity to make things work faster here you know. If you need this f-!”#)!?$!?&-it urgent you could as well have phoned me instead of sending your !=#!”=($?%!)!$!?-itty mail”. Regrettably most of us have the annoying tendency to escalate the issues we haven’t be able to work out with someone else, but there are some who escalate everything they are working on.

Let us assume this is not a company policy or a sadly established behavior and this is just the act of a single or few perpetrators. The first time you receive this kind of communications breath slowly and pursue one of the following roads:

•  Coworker dragging luggage. This might be an employee who acquired this habit by bumping head on against walls on past experiences (coming from another company or department) and after much struggle he found out that if he copied the big kahuna in every communication, things somehow started to flow.
•  Against someone with rock star tendency. We all know the type and have played the role in our past adolescence. There are certain people who have the necessity to shine. They feel obliged to show everyone, peers and managers alike, how well they work so they can receive from time to time a standing ovation for their deeds.
•  You’ve created the situation. We all like to think others are the ones who are wrong about everything else. Maybe this email is an alarm sounding, there might be some unread email you have forgot in the midst of things, a coworker waiting some kind of answer you forgot to give, or an aging procedure put in place eons ago when there were no ticket systems.

How to embark upon fixing this kind of situation before someone is dragged out the door by the collar : be certain your co workers understand how things work: what you do, what are the procedures put on place to keep things flowing, what to expect in terms of service (time to answer, time to solve, etc). By being honest and transparent about the procedures you are accustomed to follow others might find out their needs are secure in your hands. As a bonus: you can find out ways to improve upon your work by hearing someone else that have had some problems in the past with you or others.

By the way, if you are facing the rock star all of the above might not work, but next time he plays a similar maneuver everyone else will clearly see his intentions and he will find his efforts toward world dominance diminished and might even see -I am a sucker for epiphanies- this kind of acts rest more than what they give.

Remember: it is better to face relationship problems once you have accounted them than waiting for them to disappear or work themselves out.

Further Reading
Office rage poll @Monster
Rage and Reason: The psychology of the intuitive prosecutor (Goldberg, Lernet, Tetlock)

* I’ve used exaggerated narrative just to help you fix what I am trying to share.




2 responses

5 11 2008

Great post! Can’t wait for part 2 😀

2 12 2008

Hmmm I was expecting to really have tips for the ACTING PART!!!! Great article…… Is a shame Part II has not come to light yet!…..

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