As an assistant, from time to time it will fall to you to settle differences of opinion among co-workers on what types of behavior are appropriate for the office. While sometimes there will be outright conflict, in most cases you will find that one individual has a problem with another’s behavior but prefers not to address it personally. Your job is to resolve the issue without creating more turmoil.
One way to do this can be to address the issue as if you noticed it on your own. This is particularly effective if the behavior in question is in violation of the set office etiquette policy. For example, if your office requires women to wear skirts below the knee, then a request for an employee to refrain from mini-skirts is easily made and justified. Similarly, if your office prohibits radios without headphones, then asking an employee to invest in a pair of earbuds or give up the afternoon “Swap Talk” show is entirely understandable.
However, many times the lines will not be so clear. In these cases, you will have to determine what behavior is appropriate and address the issue head on. In most cases, this should be done without the complaining party present unless the conflict has escalated to the point where both parties must reach some type of resolution together. For example, if it has been brought to your attention that “Lacey” has a tendency to loiter in other people’s offices and go through things while she is talking to them, you probably will ultimately need to have a confidential conversation with Lacey about not violating confidentiality between other employees and the people with whom they work. When this type of sticky situation arises, always check with your employer or human resources department before addressing it in case there is paperwork to be filled out or a specific course of action or vocabulary that needs to be used to protect you and your employer.