It happens at meetings more often than it should: Co-workers bad-mouth one another’s work in front of the group. Nothing is quite as frustrating as being “cut off at the knees.”
“There’s something about the workplace, the competition for resources and power, that brings out the worst in certain people,” says Liz Ryan, CEO of WorldWIT, a global network for professional women.
Next time someone rudely cuts you off at the knees in front of others, she recommends trying these strategies:
Clamp your mouth shut. Your instinct will be to fight back. But whatever you’re likely to say probably won’t cast you in a good light.
Wait, and think about what the person said. “If you don’t rush to defend yourself, chances are your co-workers will likely jump into the conversation,” Ryan says. “‘What is your problem with Jill’s analysis?’” someone may say.
Pick up your comments where you left off, after a few moments of silence. “By taking the high road, you’ll show that you are unperturbed by your work mate’s ill-tempered interjection,” says Ryan.
Ask for comments. “We heard Gary’s comments. Does anyone else have a comment or question?” If Gary continues to interject comments, you can say, “Gary, let’s talk after the meeting about your concerns.”
“With time, you will see that the person firing the shot is most often the one who comes out of the experience looking unprofessional and ill-bred,” says Ryan. By holding your tongue, you defend your honor without firing a shot.
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