Playground behaviors in the office…really?

Friday, 10 May 2013 09:15

Have you noticed some similarity in workplace behaviors and the playgrounds of our youth? I think you know where I’m going with this musing…popularity contests, isolation, secrets whispered with a knowing glance directed at you. Of course, all playgrounds had the bullies who would cause children of all ages to cower with a mere glance.

So I’m writing this blog post to honor those who possess professional courage – yes, you who have moved past the playground antics of yesteryear. So what does professional courage require of us as we swim upstream often battling the riptide of negativity?

Throughout my many years of professional development training, I have had countless discussions with attendees who ask “how” to stand up to people. At the very least people ask how to prevent being dragged into gossip or the office clicks.

Okay this might not be the magic pill, but here are my suggestions and overall opinions to use or discard:

  • Choose your battles – know what is worth fighting for (pouting over who didn’t refill the paper tray in the printer doesn’t warrant stomping your feet.)
  • Some issues such as ethic and integrity are non-negotiable so grow a backbone and stand firm.
  • Be consistent – never, ever engage in snarky comments or negative gossip and extricate yourself from any of those situations.
  • When asked to keep a secret, evaluate if you’re a pawn in their game – you could easily end up looking culpable once the secret (plot) is revealed.
  • Don’t take things personally – are you behaving responsibly and professionally? If your answer is “yes” continue doing what you do so well – don’t assume that their acting out has anything to do with you.
  • If you feel for any reason that you’re being singled out (bullied)and treated unfairly, choose the right moment to have a sit down with only the person/people involved – don’t take your issue to the streets (or the cafeteria.)

It does matter who respects you. If they also like you, that’s a nice bonus, but never compromise yourself just to be the popular one on the playground.

I salute those who continue to exhibit professional courage staring down the playground intimidation tactics.

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