4 Steps For Defending Yourself At Work

Written by coachingforcareers  |  27. September 2006

In today's stressful workplace, there's an expectation that you perform perfectly all of the time. Company numbers have to exceed last quarter's numbers. Market share has to increase. Work has to be completed faster. Plus, technology advances means that you are reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no rest for the weary. All of this stress can have an effect on you and the people you work with. As a result, from time to time, co-workers may snap at you. They do not mean it. The pressure has gotten the better of them in the moment. Understanding why co-workers snap is important. They are overworked and so are you. But, behavior that feels inappropriate, is inappropriate, and must be addressed quickly. So what do you say to a co-worker who says something that does not feel right to you? Defend yourself. Here are 4 tips how: 1. Address The Inappropriate Behavior Don't let co-workers get away with treating you badly even if it's unintentional. A bad behavior not addressed once, can become a new uncomfortable pattern going forward. It's ok to let someone know that what they just said was hurtful, wrong, or out of place. Let your co-worker know that what was said was wrong. Let them know you are not happy with their behavior. The best time to address an inappropriate behavior is in the moment if you can. And, if you are unable to speak up in the moment, this is ok. Not everyone has the perfect words to say all the time, especially if what was said to you was hurtful. If you need time to assess a situation or think before you speak, then take the time you need. There is no time limit on your ability to have a conversation with someone at your job. 2. Convey What You Want Going Forward Many people are afraid to have a conversation with someone who upsets them because they view it as a confrontation. Confrontation means there is a winner and a loser. This is not what you are aiming for. You want win-win. Both sides were heard and a resolution was made that makes both sides happy. Your goal is not to create hard feelings or to blame. You want to convey what you believe is wrong and let your co-worker know what you want going forward. Do you want them to stop interrupting you in meetings? Then, say so. Do you want them to stop talking credit for your work? Then, say so. Whatever it is, it's ok for you to say it. 3. Thank Your Co-Worker For Their Willingness To Work This Out With You Thank your co-worker for taking the time to have the conversation with you. Speaking to you means they value you and respect your feelings. (Yes, it's ok to have feelings at work.) Appreciation goes a long way, and helps creates the foundation for the new working relationship that has been formed. Thank you's also provide closure. They mean that both sides are ready to put the issue behind them. 4. Move On Sometimes an issue will be resolved and sometimes it won't. Maybe a co-worker doesn't believe they have done anything wrong or does not want to see your side. Maybe they aren't interested in what is important to you. This happens. Whether you were able to resolve the situation or not doesn't matter. You spoke up, so good for you. Once you've given it your best shot, move on. Holding on to past issues will affect your future performance. Trust that most issues will be resolved if you address them. The issues that don't go away are the ones that you don't talk about. Move on, while congratulating yourself for the courage it took to defend you. So what do you say, you only have one life to live so it might as well be a life you love!

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