Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I don’t think so.
I think a lot of us have trouble standing up for ourselves.
Recently I had a situation where someone had clearly used my writing without attribution.
Not only that, it was used to promote someone else’s project.
That’s downright tacky, if not exactly something that would make you whistle for the legal dogs.
But here’s the part that’s relevant for this post – after I sent off an e-mail bringing this matter to the responsible party’s attention, I felt bad.
Which was ridiculous – it was a very polite e-mail. Trust me.
The thing is, we’re all taught – from a young age – to be polite, to get along and to not make waves. So, when the situation calls for some splashing, even a timid little tap goes against the grain.
At least this time I spoke out, but I don’t always, and I bet I’m not alone. How many of you put up with stuff you shouldn’t at work?
I’m not talking about challenging the boss, or your supervisor. I’m talking about dealing with co-workers who routinely do annoying, inconsiderate or downright illegal things, like leaving a paper jam in the Xerox room, playing the ballgame so loudly you can’t talk to a client or taking credit for work you did.
If you can relate to this, or if you’re starting to steam just reading about it, you’ve probably waited too long to say something. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late. When approaching a colleague whose behavior causes you trouble, the trick is to stay focused, stay specific and not let loose with a barrage of accumulated complaints.
I’ve also found it helpful to come prepared with an out for your problematic colleague, as in “It’s probably hard for you to tell how far the sound of your ballgame travels.” After that, deliver an option to make the future easier, such as suggestions about when to play the radio and how to adjust the volume.
The next step is for you – do not back down from any of your positions. If necessary, repeat them to yourself as a mantra, as in “I have a right to a work place where I can hear myself talk.”
But if waiting too long to stand up for yourself can cause trouble, running around with a short fuse could lead to even more Complainer’s Remorse.
Which leads to my point – the key to standing up for yourself without feeling guilty later is timing. Do it late enough so you’re sure of the facts and can offer potential solutions, and do it early enough that you don’t have a long list of complaints.
And here’s to making waves!
by Danielle Dresden