Posted: Friday 21 October 2011
Let's face it: sometimes all you really want at work is your own way. Now, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can be better at my job - we all do. However, sometimes it just comes down to that basic human desire to exert some control over our environment. For example, the other day I was so frustrated! I had brought a delicious ham salad sandwich to work made with the last of the weekend's picnic ham. I would like to point out it was clearly labeled and dated when I put it in the fridge. However, when I went to get my yummy lunch, I discovered that it - along with most of the rest of the contents of the fridge - were gone. Some well-meaning, fridge-cleaning jerk had pitched my sandwich! Needless to say I was hungry and really steamed. I don't mind if people clean the fridge, but we need a schedule. Is it really that hard? Well, I put my anger to work and drew up a calendar for fridge-cleaning in the future. I placed it on the fridge so that people could sign up on the highlighted days to clean the fridge and added a note saying that these were the only days on which the fridge should be cleaned. (Of course, I got my boss' approval first). Now we have a policy for cleaning and I am less likely to lose my next sandwich.
So do you think I'm just bragging or whining? Well, I'm not. I'm describing one of the best ways to get your way at work: take control. Most people in an office are not particularly interested in taking initiative. They will follow stated instructions. So if you want to get your way, become the source of those instructions. Be nice about it. Do not storm into offices yelling out directions and criticisms. If you can, you may not even want to notify anyone that the instructions they are getting are from you (my fridge post, for example, was unsigned and most people think that my boss implemented the rule). Be subtle and tread lightly for the best results.
Of course, you will not always be able to get your way with a simple, printed note or a post-it. Sometimes, you will need a bit more diplomacy. One way to make sure that this is effective is to moderate your responses. For example, do not blow up at every little thing. Save your irritation for the big things. Then, when you actually get angry, you will get a response other than eye-rolling. Just knowing you have the ability to make changes at the office can go a long way toward improving your work mindset. You will find that when you know change is within your power, you are willing to use that power judiciously and wisely.