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‘Office Politics’ Category

  1. My Snobbish Decline to Someone Just Trying to Be Nice

    May 16, 2016 by Lady Unemployed

    I might be overthinking this whole thing. But to give you some background, I’ve gotten very strict about being gluten-free and unless I can assess the ingredients to a food item, I’m trying to be better about declining this. Not so easy at a job that has an onslaught of treats and birthdays coming in. ¬†Also, add to this, I’m trying to stay away from artificial dyes too.

    Fun times right?

    So on my way to get fruit, I noticed the front desk person talking about a delivery for my department. Someone said, yup! This goes to this department. Being nice, I said, “Hey, I can take it!” So I did…

    I brought it upstairs, asked the people in my department if anyone knew of a gift they were expecting from this specific company. It was mostly mugs, jelly beans, and chocolate. The people in my department said no, but then some other guy from a different department says, “Oh that’s for us; we usually get gifts from this place.” So I go, “Oh! Okay! Here you go!”

    All he did was peer into the box, smile, and say, “Oh you guys can have it…” Something like that. But I instantly felt weird about it, because I realized, oh I totally took whatever was meant for them. So I go, “Oh no! I can’t eat this stuff any way, it has gluten in it!” [This was my attempt at being jokey’] A few of my coworkers from my department were saying, “Jelly beans don’t have gluten! Chocolate doesn’t have gluten!”

    Mostly, the guy wasn’t taking the box. He kept insisting we take it. I said, “No, that’s okay. [In a failing joking mode] This has red 40 in it! I don’t want it!” I know, I know. But the guy was NOT taking the box! This is like people waving each other on at a stop sign and no one going.

    So I feel like I sounded like a snobby bitch to this guy. Who probably thought, “Whoa, I was just trying to be nice!” I feel bad of course. And this will go under the category of awkwardly rude conversations on my part (like the time I told a coworker about my disliking of ranch dressing and she ended up being very offended as a result).

    Tell me about the time you were rude without intending too. Please. Quickly.

     


  2. 5 Tips on How to Handle a Manipulative Coworker

    August 24, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

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    For the past two years, my “difficult coworker” has been a thorn in my side since I started. About a month into starting this job, I experienced my “difficult coworker’s” bad attitude in addition to dealing with manipulative and bitchy remarks and tactics to make me look bad in the department. After a while, despite valid complaints, I was told by my supervisor to “live and let live.”

    Ha.

    If you’ve ever worked around this type of personality that will not leave you alone and are constantly finding ways to make you look bad, you will know “live and let live” is near to impossible.

    There are tactics though that I have learned – often the hard way – to make your work life manageable. The type of office environment where this particular type of attitude is allowed makes office politics an Olympic event. You need to be smart, quick, and learn who your enemies are.

    Here are five tips I can pass along when you are working around a manipulative coworker.

    1) Know that upper management doesn’t want to hear your complaints.

    Unless your coworker violates policy or out-and-out harasses you, your boss doesn’t want to hear it. I learned this the hard way. The downside is that if you DO bring office politics issues to your boss, more than likely, YOU will soon become the difficult party (not playing well with others, etc).

    I wouldn’t recommend suffering in silence, though. It will only make the behavior worse. Sometimes simply asking your boss their opinion on how to deal with a difficult matter (concerning this person) it’s enough to spotlight the difficult personality in the room. This is also showing you are willing to deal with this person without making it a huge deal, but that you need some help or advice (i.e. willing to play with others).

    You may find that your boss DOES want to step in or that your boss will confirm that “this difficult person” is KNOWN to be difficult. You want this conversation to happen. So I wouldn’t run off and tell your boss so-and-so is being mean, but say instead that you are having a problem with how so-and-so is dealing with a certain issue and don’t know how to approach the matter.

    However…

    2) Attempt to resolve the conflict directly (in some fashion).

    In my experience, the difficult coworker isn’t just difficult with one issue. I mean, sure, everyone has their touchy areas at work or territorial attitudes about some things, but this particular type of personality is relentless. Once you feel like ONE thing is resolved, they find something else to be a pain in the butt about.

    So, while I hate being confrontational, I would recommend TRYING to have a conversation with this person about what you are having a hard time with. Sometimes clearing the air will let you know if this is just a specific scenario or if it’s really their overall personality.

    Also, this is important to figure out, because your boss will want to know you have tried. And when you discuss this with your boss, you can use OTHER scenarios where you’ve tried to handle it directly with this difficult coworker and the results of those attempts. This will further prove why you need your boss’ input on “how” to deal with this personality.

    For my situation, I learned pretty quickly that direct confrontation only made the matter worse. And I also couldn’t go directly to my boss after figuring THAT out the hardway.

    This leads me to # 3…

    3) Observe their interactions with other people, but don’t gossip.

    This person will have friends in the office. I promise. I am a bit of a blabbermouth in terms of needing to vent difficult situations to SOMEONE, ANYONE at times. I learned not everyone wants to hear it and (gasp) someone may actually LIKE the very person giving you a hard time. ALSO, fellow coworkers will want to use your difficult situations as a way to boost their relations with the difficult coworker (if you are the black sheep in the department, that means THEY are not the black sheep).

    Be smart. Observe their interactions with others. You can usually spot in your department the person who avoids chatting with your difficult coworker. Also, take advantage of moments when you DO see someone having a hard time. Be THEIR listening ear. I know this sounds awful, but by using their hard time, you will get someone on your side.

    4) Choose your battles.

    It can be very easy to sucked into their game and get you very competitive and ruthless in your attempts to supercede their status in the department. Don’t do it, because this can blind you from your own career goals. Don’t work 10 hour days for a promotion you ONLY want, because this difficult coworker does too.

    Sure this person may shoot you dirty looks across the room when you meet their eye, but you don’t have to confront every instance of it.

    5) Don’t let them silent your voice.

    I’ve had experiences where my difficult coworker ended up taking an idea that I had first shared with her. That was a bad mistake. I’ve also had situations where my coworker shot down ideas for no other reason but to disagree with me. It’s a manipulation tactic to silence your opinion. It’s never completely obvious but you will know when it happens to you.

    I’ve learned the hard way to speak up first to the entire department OR implement the idea without including this coworker at all. No, they won’t like it. Yes, they’ll try to find ways to get back at you. But it’s important you don’t hide away your voice at work just because this person doesn’t like you. The second they realize they can silent you, it will only get worse.

    I’m still learning of course, but the best thing I’ve learned from this job is how to deal with a manipulative, difficult coworker.

    What are your experiences dealing with a manipulative coworker? Do you have any tips on how to handle a manipulative coworker? Any lessons learned the hard way?


  3. Do People Use Charisma to Manipulate?

    July 8, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    do people use charisma to manipulate

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted and a lot has happened over the last few weeks (and a lot has stayed the same). But recently, my company has hired a new guy – one of the only guys in my female dominated department. He’s very outgoing, flamboyant, and friendly.

    And inside of two weeks, this guy has won over every person in my department. Even (and most especially) the bitches.

    At first, I thought of him as naturally charismatic, a quality that I’m sure made him a success in his previous sales role. This initial impression blended in with surprise that he is just naturally able to make friends with people and treat them like he’s known them for years.

    I’ll preface this by saying that I think this quality is a gift. I do. And I’ll also preface the next half of this post by saying I have a pretty healthy sized lack of trust (and general discomfort) with people, especially when I feel I’ve been won over almost immediately by someone.

    Soon after he started, I overheard a remark said by one of the ladies in my department (who has been at the company for a while) – “You sure have a way with the ladies!”

    She meant this in a nice way of course, but in a very observant way. It made me take a step back a bit of course and take a look a little closer at what I was seeing.

    Then just this morning, after I noticed a department lunch had been scheduled for this guy’s birthday (the first birthday that’s been made a big deal of in about a year and a half), I overheard yet another lady comment, “What’s with this guy? He’s like the Pied Piper!”

    And I noticed that he was walking around the department handing out donuts to people.

    I was the one of the only people excluded and I didn’t so much as take offense as I paid attention to the manipulation tactics that played out right underneath my nose. A part of me wanted to see why I hadn’t won his approval. To be overly friendly with him to see why I’m not in good graces.

    Alongside all of this is this is a budding ‘we’ve-been-friends-forever-OMG’ friendship with the head bitch in my department (call me a snarky female, but office politics are what they are and I call it as I see it). It’s the same head bitch who made my first year at this place absolute hell. She’s been in the control seat again for a while, although I’m not as affected because of how long I’ve been here and my resistence to be that connected to this place anymore.

    But I’ve been wondering why he’s built that particular friendship, except I realized when you are manipulative, you know how to play the game and you play well. So he knows that the key to really taking control of this whole office situation here is swoon her. And he has. I can see it.

    With all of this said, it made me wonder how good charisma really is in all situations? I’ve come across only a small handful of people in my life that has it to an extent that this guy does and each time I find myself liking the person and being drawn in, but that the relationship is highly uneven and I share much more of myself than they share of themselves (and when they do, it’s a very small amount only dispensed to keep me talking).

    So I have to ask – are you naturally charismatic? Have you ever used your powers for “evil”? And if you have ever been around charismatic people, do you always see good going on or do you see charisma being used as a manipulation tactic? In other words, do people use charisma to manipulate?

    On a side note, and this may become a part two post as a result, but I also wonder if charisma can be confused with narcissism. I found this article on PsychologyToday that may help you if you are also struggling to figure out the two.


  4. 7 Reasons I Hate Work Social Events

    May 30, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    I hate social events at work

    I didn’t think I would have anything to write about this week, because I’ve been so occupied with some things lately, I just haven’t been inspired to write on my blog(s).

    But today, someone else is leaving my department and she had been with the company 10 years, so they wanted to have everyone go to lunch in honor of her last day.

    Let me tell you this – I have never been a big fan of work social events. I can’t even remember the last time I enjoyed myself and didn’t feel awkward.

    Inspired by this event (and as a way for me to sort of vent out some frustration), I decided to compile 7 reasons I hate work social events and why these types of events make me feel uncomfortable –

    1) I never know what to talk about.

    I notice in these types of things people love to talk about after work events that have long since passed (that I haven’t gone to), travel (which I don’t have the money for), buying homes and other expensive things I also can’t afford, things they do on the weekend, and other chit-chatty grown up stuff I haven’t been able to fully embrace since reaching the “grown up” phase of my life.

    The problem is that the types of things that busy my time and my life aren’t really talked about. I love to read books and write stories and rarely do I find myself in a conversation at these things that talk about anything remotely like that stuff. I also love watching television and going to the movies and that’s not brought up either. I pay attention to the news and that is a topic avoided.

    Basically, I just don’t know what to say.

    That’s probably one of my biggest issues, but here are a few others:

    2) When I do talk, I’m not heard (literally).

    I have a quiet voice and when I’m at any work place event that has a large number of people, I am always embarassed to have to repeat myself. I hate it and it just makes me not want to speak.

    Not to mention, when I do repeat myself, it usually falls flat.

    3) I’m self conscious about how/what I’m eating.

    This is probably a result of a 5th grade teacher humiliating me once in front of the whole class during a buffet once, but I am really self conscious about my eating habitst and food choices. I also tend to eat fast, which is a terrible habit I need to drop, so I get worried when I have eaten way more than the company I’m keeping. Plus my dietary choices these days are limited, so I am picky, which leads me to usually asking embarassingly specific questions to the waiter/tress or I stick with salad.

    4) You have to socialize with people you don’t like.

    In some cases it’s possible to avoid them, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. This leads to a growing resentment of having to be near them and see everyone else appreciate their existance.

    5) They go on too long.

    Today was a luncheon and really, I only wanted to be gone longer than forty-five minutes to an hour. Instead, it went on for two hours. I didn’t know what to do that whole time. After a while, I just got tired of sitting there smiling at conversations where I didn’t know how to respond.

    6) Every self-conscious body or outfit thought comes to the front and center of my mind.

    If I go into these things wearing an outfit that I’m uncomfortable in or God help me it’s a fat day or I’m feeling EXTRA tall for some reason, those are the types of things highlighted in my mind. When that happens, everything else that has made me uncomfortable is multiplied by 10.

    7) The abnormal and out of character friendly interaction.

    My company isn’t filled with the nicest ladies and there is quite a lot of power plays and manipulation and unkind relations that go on that makes the place it a difficult place to work. So, to have to act really nice and let it all go as if I’m comfortable, is hard. It stresses me out and I can’t relax.

    For now, this is pretty exhaustive of why I am uncomfortable at work social events. Am I the only one out there that cringes or hides or gets suddenly sick whenever these events come around?


  5. Can Ugly Competition At Work Kill the Office Environment?

    May 16, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    This may be a strange post coming from me, especially because I am a big believer in a healthy dose of competition. In fact, I think it can improve your skills, increase your stamina, and motivate you to do better.

    competition at work

    But today I am wondering if healthy competition at work can turn ugly in the wrong work environment?

    I ask because a (newly discovered) disgruntled coworker got competitive with me over something I had been handling pretty much independently. I have no trouble working with someone but it took me by surprise to see her hand in it (and not exactly in a nice way).

    It reminded me a little bit of when I first started this job and I had trouble with my difficult coworker. I sort of got in her work territory a bit in order to compete for attention. Not to be mean, but mostly because I wasn’t getting recognized and to get that, I assumed I had to really be aggressive.

    I’m seeing it play out again with this disgruntled coworker, even though I’m not nearly as critical towards others as my difficult coworker was with me (and continues to be with everyone else).

    So, with difficult work environments where criticisms far outweigh the kudos, you generate a competitive atmosphere which leads to frayed and awkward work relations which results in zero comraderie between employees and creates an uptight, phony and possibly angry atmosphere.

    And they wonder why we have such high turnover.


  6. Can You Find Happiness at Work?

    May 14, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    happiness at work

    Today while doing my usual work activities, under headphones I listened to a documentary I had playing in the background of my work screens. The documentary was about happiness, entitled Happiness Is and I highly recommend it).

    This made me think about my happiest work experiences (among other facets of my life where I’ve been happy or unhappy, but mostly I wanted to talk about my work experiences since this is an employment/unemployment blog). And I thought about when I was the happiest at work.

    There are a few things that make me happy at work and it isn’t exactly a fancy title and a corner office with a six figure salary. Realistically speaking, I’m not even sure I’m willing to give over of myself to any company to earn a position quite like that, but I do have to work to pay the bills and that does mean that I will probably be spending the majority of my days at work.

    I’m not happy where I work right now, but I know I have been and can be happy while I’m working.

    So here’s a few things that have made me happy at work (of course, nostalgia can give you rose-colored glasses about the past; I know I haven’t been entirely happy everywhere I work, but I would say there are elements that have made me enjoy work and even laugh at work, which is not an aspect for me right now).

    1) Connection with coworkers.

    I remember I worked as an admin for a cell phone company once and I really enjoyed some of my interactions there. I ended up walking off the job and looking back, I think the trigger point for me to eventually leave was how isolated I became from everyone towards the end. I had developed coworker friends in the office, but they didn’t last and it got to be impossible for me to rebuild any new ones.

    But I can remember vividly early on being in the lunch room of this company, actually enjoying my lunch hour, and laughing a lot with some of my coworkers. Sometimes we would laugh about customers we each would talk to, other times it was about our personal lives, and it got to be a time during the day I enjoyed the most.

    Things changed of course, but looking back, I realize I enjoy interacting with coworkers and laughing and being on an even playing field instead of feeling an ugly sense of competition with them.

    2) Variety of job duties and responsibilities.

    My first job out of high school, I got promoted twice inside of about one year. Plus, I even got to change around desks and connect with new and different people in the company. It wasn’t a great place to work, but I loved the variety of challenges and opportunity.

    Right now I feel stuck where I work, and promotions are few and far between for anyone here. I realize now that I like having the opportunity to take on new responsibility and change around my day a bit. I like variety and having a monotonous work schedule depresses me.

    3) Shorter commute.

    I spend about nine to ten hours a week on my commute (the morning commute lasts about 45 minutes, the afternoon can take up to an hour). This is the first time I haven’t been twenty minutes from home. My first job out of high school was a ten minute drive from home, my first job out of college was about a twenty minute drive from home. My admin job in between college was about twenty minutes from home.

    For me, whether I’m driving or taking public transportation, a commute means stress. And I don’t like 10 extra hours of stress when I’m already taking 40 plus hours a week of stress at work. Plus, I associate my commute with work and right now, commute included, I work about 55 hours a week (10 of which, aren’t paid, of course).

    So, to summarize – connection, variety, and short commute may just be the key to me finding happiness at work. Sure, every job has a downside. But the down side should definitely be outweighed by the good.

    Have you found happiness at work? What makes you the happiest?


  7. The View from Below (What Management Looks Like)

    May 9, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    My mom found this photo online tonight and I just had to share it with you.

    I don’t know about you, but I would say this is pretty accurate:


    With that, have a wonderful weekend and I know I will have more to say on Monday.


  8. Working at a Company with High Turnover

    May 7, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    high turnover

    Ladies and Gentleman, time for me to eat something called humble pie.

    So, recently, there has been a lot of high turnover and increase in the number of people leaving the company, specifically my department, and finally, human resources taken notice. A few people have been randomly selected to discuss why they think people leave and some ideas to throw around.

    Well, a new employee (who got promoted in 6 months) went to this meeting and I decided to ask her about it. Apparently human resources described how other departments use minute-by-minute schedules for the first few days of someone’s employment and even take them out to lunch their first day. She also said that me and a recently departed coworker (who started when I did) never gave her the impression it was okay to ask questions. That the vibe she got was, “Here’s your desk, good luck!”

    Perspective is a funny thing and hindsight is always 20/20. I stand by my initial unhappiness at this job and my feelings of desperate exasperation at how I was harshly criticized with very little room for mistakes. Now I don’t have nearly as much “disgruntled” feelings, as you probably notice by now with my dwindling job-complaint centered posts.

    But this problem described to me is an interesting one. If I remember my first day correctly, I was basically sat down at a desk to get “acclimated” to my new email inbox and to read over material handed out to me by human resources. No one took me out to lunch (which I was glad for; I hate socializing like that my first day) and aside from the initial tour, there wasn’t too much interaction to the day in general.

    And in all honesty, the position I hold at my company for which my newbie coworker felt the need for their to be minute-by-minute training for, is not a complicated one. It’s mostly data entry and aside from very situation specific weird things that can happen with a file you’re dealing with, it’s sort of primarily learn as you go. At least, that’s how I viewed it.

    But I know she’s not the only one unhappy as quite a few people have left over the two years I’ve been here. My recently departed coworker, who was hired a couple of months after me, was disgruntled not because of lack of training, but the way he was told about mistakes and the lack of any variety to job duties. That’s what he told me.

    As for other recently departed coworkers, I can only guess – I’ve overheard people mention money as the reason someone has left and another person explained it was training (however I was mostly suspicious that she just was bored) and another girl left within a month because she was just bored.

    I have to be honest that the main reason I have stayed is because I need a stable job right now. I can make this place work despite my complaints. I can’t leave this job to go to another, only to see I can’t make the other place work. Plus, I don’t have a lot of long term employment places, and staying two years somewhere, will look VERY good on my resume.

    But why will I leave?

    I’m bored crazy.

    But I’ve learned through this place, and maybe it’s a lesson that I should pass along, is that you need to speak up at work. No one can read your mind. I remember asking this newbie employee if she was doing okay many times and she always said yes. If she was confused, why didn’t she say, no?

    There have been a lot of moments at work I look back on where I realize I could have bettered my situation a lot if I had just spoken up instead of struggling to cope. Although if I do remember correctly, I ended up getting in trouble for complaining too much about someone and how I should just let it go (cue Frozen theme). And with that in mind, I’m sure my difficult coworker who I ranted about constantly last year would have given me a simple answer like that too.

    So maybe unhappiness at work never has an easy answer and maybe it isn’t just one problem.


  9. Getting Overlooked at Work Yet Knowing What You Want

    April 9, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    Today was the second time I’ve been overlooked in my department for a promotion. It bothers me because the person who got the promotion has been here less than three months. I started to stew a bit, but I decided that the best way to let this out is to blog about it.

    I’ve already talked about the type of career I want. I want a writing and social media job. But more than a job, I more envision having something of my own and my own way of making money. Whether it’s making money blogging, freelance writing, managing social networks via freelancing, or something along those lines. Right now I’ve been holding onto this more stable job because it’s financially necessary, but this isn’t something I see for myself long term.

    At the heart of it – I am a writer and I want a career that uses this love.

    In addition to that, I also grown more confident with the fiction I write, too and I am definitely getting better. I’m submitting stories, getting critiqued, and working on actually EDITING these stories.

    I AM growing as a writer. This is something I need to remind myself on days like this. I feel envious at this coworkers advancement, because it’s always nice to get recognition at work for doing a good job, but I don’t want the advancement. Having this type of promotion for me, would add more stress at work, and give me less energy to work on the stuff I really want.

    Do you have a day job that just pays the bills? Have you ever had days like these where you need to remind yourself why you do what you do?


  10. You look stacked!” – And Other Awkward Work Conversations

    April 3, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    I once left a work environment because sexual harrassment and pushing the boundaries on what was and what wasn’t acceptable to say to coworkers was never addressed by management. Not to mention, a creeper manager who was allowed to say inappropriate things, but nothing ever was said to him about it.

    Here I am again, although luckily, these conversations aren’t directed at me.

    But I had just gotten into work this morning when suddenly the breast sized of a female coworker was complimented by another female coworker. “Your boobs look huge lately! You’re stacked! What are you wearing? Is it because you’re husband’s in town?”

    She laughed along of course and my (female) supervisor also started to laugh.

    Maybe I’m being too strict on what I expect from coworkers. This wasn’t even a private conversation between two coworkers who were friends and maybe were comfortable with these types of conversations. This was practically shouted across the room.

    Yet, I’m not surprised and I’ve begun to tune out these types of scenarios. Once my supervisor asked an employee who had just been on a long vacation to stand up and show everyone her “brownness” because she got so tan while she was away. It may have been less awkward if she wasn’t already dark skinned to begin with.

    This is a strong part of the place I work at – an expectation that these conversations will probably go on.

    Am I being too sensitive here? Or is there major potential for disaster? I can’t imagine everyone will be okay with this, yet no one ever says anything and no warnings ever go out about being inappropriate.