Manners? Play Well with Others

“…what leads you to believe you are are so important to this organization you can do anything you want. Sure, we all say you are the one to watch. That’s because you are the personification of incompetence and a real time version of what not to do.”

TV, more specifically the half hour comedy, has made us think it is OK to do a verbal slap. You know when a person comes in and tells off the boss, or the episode when someone confronts the office bully. It’s television. It’s entertainment. It is not reality, even if they call it reality tv.

You have to continue to work with people. You will hopefully have a long career and you could end up in a position to work with or interact with that person again even if you leave and go to another company. I know of a coworker that had an exchange of unflattering words in a bar with another woman. The next day my coworker had a sales call. Turns out the customer was the woman with whom she had the altercation. Seriously, the chances of this happening are far better than winning a lottery.

Oh stop whining —-but I should be able too. Right? I should be able to expect my boy friend to show up when he says he will too. These are life’s expectations of what should occur and not reality. It took many years before I understood what my dad meant by two wrongs don’t make a right when my brother and I would do the usual he/she started it. In the work environment it became clear. Someone else’s bad behavior – and trust me in business, you will see bad behavior – does not give me permission to behave badly.  Hence, as much as everyone would love the pivotal moment when someone reduces the office nuisance to a sniveling apologetic shell of a person who promptly acknowledges transgressions and quits; you are not the one and this is not the day. That cinematic moment is not going to happen.

I get my hair straightened every 6 weeks. It’s a chemical process.  I had an international assignment to work in China. I would be out of the country for 8 weeks so my stylist reminded me it would be important to keep my hair well conditioned. Fair.  I asked, “What do you recommend?”  Do you know she said ,“I don’t know.” Now, mind you, I have been a client for 5 years. I put up with having to write my own appointment time down in her book. I put up with not getting a reminder call. I put up with someone complaining about my hair being dry even though at one point I was going to her every two weeks for conditioning treatments.  Now, evil Sheila wanted to say, “OK enough. It’s obvious you can’t or won’t recommend a conditioner because you keep saying my hair is dry which keeps me coming to you every two weeks. Oh, what ever – I’m done.

I got great council from a friend that it was not necessary to explain my dissatisfaction. I was advised, it’s not even necessary to say, “I won’t be coming back. ” I simply did not scheduled a new appointment and went elsewhere. Eight months later, I’m back with the very same person I wanted to dismiss with a lot less hair. Why? Because the next person I went to, despite claims of expertise with chemical straightening, left me with a chemical cut. That’s the technical way of saying, my hair broke off, came out, shed, because of the misapplication of chemicals. When I really prioritize what’s important, keeping my hair, the first stylist wins out. Does that mean I won’t try someone else in the future? No. It means I can appreciate her excellent work with chemicals and I am glad I didn’t destroy that relationship with my personal commentary. Yes, with the first stylist, I could have let evil Sheila take over, and had a moment of smugness with my commentary. However, since I left on good terms, it was very easy to go back.

It may sound trite, but be nice. It doesn’t mean not to be firm or not do your job. It means to preserve relationships. You aren’t at the job for people to necessarily like you, but you don’t want to alienate them either. It’s a job; it’s work not play. You aren’t paying them for a spa like experience, you are being paid to do a job. It’s very hard at times, but keep your ego out of the way. Be nice, you don’t know who knows who or who you may encounter again in your career.

There is really no more to say. You can wear one of those playful shirts that says “plays well with others.”

I will add a caveat, truly bad behavior should be reported to HR and handled in the correct manner. That’s not what I’m referring to here. This is just the general office gossip (don’t give them information) the person who never delivers on time (set up contingency plans).

Situations will be unique and different. My guidance is stay on good terms, be nice and play well with others.

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