Thursday, May 24, 2018
Business

Career Q&A: Office spat devolves into childish antics

Q: I share a cubicle with an extremely irritating coworker. When Iím on the phone with customers, "Shelly" frequently interrupts my conversation with corrections. I finally had enough of this and stopped speaking to her. Shelly retaliated by putting a sign on her computer saying "She wonít talk to me," with an arrow pointing at my desk.

Last week, Shelly and I had a nasty argument after she interrupted another call. When I told her to back off and mind her own business, she called me an ugly name and said I was impossible to work with. This happened in front of several other coworkers.

No matter what I do, Shelly seems determined to embarrass me. Giving her the cold shoulder didnít work, and fighting hasnít helped. Should I ask management to get involved?

A: These petty little squabbles are so tiresome. One would hope mature adults with responsible jobs would have abandoned such childish antics, but that is obviously not the case.

I will grant you that Shelly sounds like an intrusive busybody. However, your response to her meddling has only served to escalate the conflict. So letís take a moment to explore your contribution to this ongoing office drama.

While your passive-aggressive pouting had the intended effect of annoying Shelly, refusing to speak made any resolution impossible. When her rudeness continued, your angry confrontation just added fuel to the fire. If you complain to management, they may question your own maturity, so itís time to try a more conciliatory approach.

For example: "Shelly, I would really like to resolve our differences and improve our working relationship. If we can agree that you wonít interrupt my calls, I will be glad to hear your opinions when I get off the phone. And if I ever provide inaccurate information, I will certainly correct it."

If Shelly complies, just listen to her comments without arguing or debating, and then thank her for the feedback. But should she continue to interrupt, ignore her completely. When her criticism fails to produce a reaction, she will eventually stop.

Advice for writing
a self-appraisal

Q: Everyone in our company has been asked to write a self-appraisal as part of their performance review. Although I believe I have done an outstanding job, my duties are basically the same every year. With no specific accomplishments, how can I show the quality of my work?

A: Keep in mind that the same tasks can be completed with varying levels of initiative, creativity, helpfulness and attention to detail. So the key is to differentiate your own outstanding work from that of an average performer.

Letís say, for example, that one of your responsibilities is to schedule meetings. On a self-appraisal, you might mention that you book locations well in advance, provide comprehensive information to participants, send out timely reminders, respond promptly to concerns, and handle unusual requests.

In short, your goal is to describe someone who does a standard job with a high level of competence. If this begins to feel like bragging, insert the phrase "I try to" ó as in, "I always try to provide outstanding customer service." Then describe exactly how you do it.

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