This post is not so much about teaching and higher education or even popular culture. Those are common themes in my blog. Instead this post is more of a commentary on working with interesting and difficult people in the workplace. As I work with more people across campus I’ve learned many things these over the years. And, I’m going to place these in numbered points and respond to them.
1. Never send an email when you are frustrated, tired or mad. You might regret that email later. This is really important advice and I know that there are moments when you just want to respond and fire off your response. Instead, forward the email to yourself and say what you would like or open a Word document and vent. Then, respond to the email later.
2. Never send an email that you are not prepared for other people to forward. While forwarding colleagues’ emails without permission is unprofessional, note that some people will not blink at forwarding emails to share some funny or juicy information. But occasionally there is the colleague who might use the forwarded email as an attempt to get you in trouble. Now, I use the word trouble loosely, as it could refer to someone sharing something embarrassing or something innocuous. So, always be careful with emails. A colleague in the Law Faculty had once told me to take special careful with using specific names in emails due to Freedom of Information Act. And, I took her advice to heart. I use phrases like: our esteemed colleague, the interesting person in emails, in these few instances.
3. Be honest and fair. I have found that it is much easier to think before I say something and offer what I feel is my honest opinion. I might weigh what I am going to say more carefully if a meeting has already had some awkward or tense moments. But, I think it is more important for me to start from a place of honesty.
4. If you have a difficult colleague, try and document the interactions in case you have to report him/her. When things are documented it will make things easier.
5. Make allies. This is not about Empire Building, but instead is a suggestion to try and meet like minded people across units. You can get more done if you network and know more people across campus or your workplace. Likewise, it is good to have a colleague who is not in your unit or immediate division to chat with about plans or policies. It’s also very important to network for the sake of community building.
6. For those of us working in higher education, it’s an interesting place. A place of higher learning; however, all the pettiness of any workplace exists. Patience is important. Things do not change quickly.
I imagine that this sort of post will evolve. I was ruminating over some of these points the other day and thought I would share them. Hopefully, you have some other points to add or thoughts on what I’ve shared. Last thing—this post is not responding to recent event or person! ;-0
These are all good points, especially 4! When I was having trouble with Annoying-Co-Worker, I kept a word doc of all the instances, it helped when I finally decided to talk to my manager about it.
Yes, documentation is important. Management will always ask for the proof!
I agree these are great points. Definitely something I think a lot of recent graduates learn the hard way when they leave school for the workplace. I know I did! But I have to say networking has worked the best for me… The more people you know the better. And being kind and asking someone “how their day is going?” first before launching into a conversation about a work problem or work project goes a long way!
Ash: Bingo. Networking and establishing work relationships are also important.
I love point #3.
Any relationship is more rewarding if it is based in honesty. Even the relationship with an acquaintance, the person on the street corner and especially your loved ones. 🙂
Thanks, Nikki! I know that I could have added an additional ten points, but I wanted to be brief.