The workplace, sadly, can feel a lot like high school at times. And if you think bullies only exist in the school yard, you’re sorely mistaken. The workplace bully has gotten a lot of press recently. In my most recent interview on Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado, I address this topic and provide a few strategies for handling it. Hopefully you never have to deal with a bully at work, but if you do, this advice could be invaluable.
Your office is probably full of different personalities—some easier to get along with than others. No matter where you work, or what you do, respecting your co-workers is an essential part of being a high-quality professional. Your team is there to support and guide you. But if you don’t treat others with the respect they deserve, you’ll end up struggling all alone. Believe me – a little bit of respect goes a long way! You don’t have to be a pushover. You just need to be considerate and appreciative of those around you.
Think about it: Would you want to work with yourself? If you’re not quite sure of the answer, take this quiz and see if you’re a respectful co-worker.
*NOTE: This download is only available for members of the Free Career Resource Library.
Read each statement and select an answer that best describes what you would do in the situation. You may not find one that describes you perfectly – so just choose the one that works best.
1. You’re having a hectic morning at home and you know you’re going to be late. Your co-workers will have to pick up the slack until you get there.
a) You call as soon as you realize you’ll be late. You apologize sincerely and let them know when to expect you.
b) In all the chaos, you forget to call, which you know has probably upset your co-workers. You decide to stop and pick up some donuts on the way in – who can stay mad when you’re arriving with treats?
c) You know you’re co-workers are going to give you a hard time about being late so you don’t bother calling. When you arrive, you tell them every detail of your crazy morning – just so they know it was beyond your control.
2. Because of a mistake you made, your entire department has to stay late reworking a project. You…
a) Make an effort to apologize to everyone directly, and then work especially hard to get the project completed quickly.
b) Laugh it off – mistakes happen. It’s best to keep the mood light and positive.
c) Explain how the mistake was not really your fault. Why should you take all the blame for this?
3. Your office shares one supply closet that is always messy and disorganized. When you go to pick up some Post-its, you…
a) Take a few minutes to tidy up and make sure you’re not contributing to the problem.
b) Ask one of the interns clean it up – after all, they’re supposed to be learning all angles of business!
c) Grab what you need and go. It’s not your problem. Maybe later you’ll post a note that says something like, “Your mom doesn’t work here! Pick up after yourself!”
4. Your sister is going through a difficult break up. She is calling you at work looking for support and guidance, which is very distracting to your co-workers. You…
a) Talk with her for a minute and then acknowledge that you are at work and not available to chat. You make arrangements to call her on your break.
b) Whisper quietly at your desk. Your co-workers will never know.
c) Chat as long as your sister needs. This is family after all. Your co-workers should understand.
5. One of your co-workers is overwhelmed and stressed out. She ends up snapping at you one day, which is completely out of character. You…
a) Acknowledge that you know she is stressed and let it go.
b) Wait for her to apologize – snapping at you was uncalled for.
c) Snap right back. Sure, she’s stressed. But that doesn’t mean she can take it out on you!
Count the number of A’s, B’s and C’s on your list.
If A’s appeared most on your list:
Congratulations! You seem to have struck a nice balance at work. You’re respectful, without being a pushover. You offer assistance when needed and pull your weight. You’re able to admit mistakes and move on. You’re considerate of your co-workers’ time and their feelings. The relationships you are building will serve you well in your professional career. Keep up the good work!
If B’s appeared most on your list:
Unfortunately, you might think you’re a respectful co-worker, but I have some bad news: You’re not. You probably have some good intentions but you’re just not hitting the right note. In fact, you might not be taking it as seriously as you should. Remember that your co-workers are not your buddies. This is a professional relationship, not a friendship. You need to consider the feelings of your co-workers before you make decisions.
Treat them as equals – this doesn’t mean you have to let them walk on you. You can be respectful and strong at the same time. It’s a delicate balance, but one that can be achieved by taking a step back and considering their points-of-view.
If C’s appeared most on your list:
You probably know the results already: You’re not a respectful co-worker. This can’t be a surprise to you. From your answers above, we can guess that you don’t often consider the time or feelings of your co-workers. You simply do what you want to and you fail to take responsibility for your own actions. Perhaps you think this makes you assertive. Maybe it makes you feel powerful to be disrespectful. Unfortunately, you’re only hurting yourself. No one wants to hear your excuses. Respect is all about teamwork and communication. Take a step back and focus on your skills in these areas. Are you really putting your best foot forward?