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Defusing the 5 Trickiest Workplace Situations

Defusing the 5 Trickiest Workplace Situations

Jeff Hindenach | HRPeople

November 23, 2010

The workplace can be a political minefield. While you may all work as a team, you’re all most concerned with your own job,right? How your bosses see you can determine a raise, a promotion — or even if you keep your job. Navigating office politics is not an easy task, but avoiding potentially negative situations should be your first priority.

If you find yourself trapped in one of these situations, you need to know how to best defuse it with minimal damage to your professional reputation. Here are some tips on how to get out of five of the most common workplace minefields.

In the Middle of an Office Argument

Whether a coworker is ranting at you about his boss or you get caught right in the middle of a shouting match, the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut. Taking sides in a situation like this can only lead to trouble. If a coworker is just venting to you, be empathetic but don’t agree with them. You never know who is going to be promoted, and you don’t want to be on the bad side of your new boss. Similarly, if an argument is raging around you, resist the temptation to join. In office inter-personal battles, nobody wins.

Assigned a Project You Don’t Know How to Do

You never want to tell your boss that you can’t perform a task, but if she assigns you something outside of your working knowledge, what are your options? Depending on how tight the deadline is, you probably have time to do some research. Pull from as many sources as possible so you at least have an idea of how to the task correctly. If you can’t find any experts on the subject, suck it up and resort to asking a coworker for help. Just make sure they are reliable and won’t rat you out. You have the resources to complete any task inside you, you just need to not panic and keep a calm head.

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