For some reason, as I started writing this post, I couldn’t stop thinking about the song “The Gambler.”
I know better than to argue with an ear worm (a slang term for songs that get stuck in your head), so here are Kenny Roger’s lyrics, followed by my thoughts on making them work for you with conflicts in the workplace.
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em – When you get into a conflict at work, you might have some cards up your sleeve that your antagonist doesn’t know about. Perhaps you have the authority to make someone do something he or she is giving you a hard time about. Perhaps you know the boss likes your idea better than your rival’s. Perhaps you have inside knowledge and know that your opponent’s division is on the chopping block. You still don’t have to tell anyone. Reveal your information judiciously. Play your insights like aces and be the winner who takes all.
Know when to fold ‘em – None of us are going to be able to win every battle or confrontation we face. Long-time survivors of cubicle combat are those who are able to recognize that they’re not going to win, and they’re smart enough to stand down before they’re run over.
Know when to walk away, and know when to run – Some bad situations at work are fixable. Others aren’t. If you want to take The Gambler’s advice – and who wouldn’t – your first step is determining if your situation is salvageable or if you’re trying to draw to an inside straight. For example, one of the main reasons people leave jobs is because of a bad manager. If you can’t reason with, out-maneuver or avoid a supervisor from hell, make a point of locating the emergency exit. The speed at which you propel yourself through it should be determined by the extent to which this clown can mess up the rest of your life.
You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table – Let’s say you win this one. Don’t gloat and don’t rub your opponent’s face in it. First of all, that’s just plain rude and you should know better than that by now. Secondly, you’ve only won a hand, not the game, and who knows what could happen in the next round? It doesn’t make sense to alienate anyone by showing off, especially since you might lose the next time around.
By the way, this post does not necessarily advocate gambling or treating the world of work as a game of chance, but then again – that’s not a bad way to bet.
by Danielle Dresden