By Jillian Kramer. Photos: Courtesy of CNP Montrose.
Being nice doesn’t always get you what you want at work, but becoming known as the office villain isn’t exactly ideal either. What’s a woman to do? She finds the middle ground, saying exactly what she needs to say without mincing words—but it in a way that’s not dismissed as emotional, nasty, or, God forbid, because “it’s that time of the month.”
Not only is saying what you mean at work incredibly satisfying, but, “when you express yourself, you aren’t suppressing your anger, frustration, or even hurt, decreasing the chances that you will explode later over something small,” says Karen Elizaga, executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot. And that’s a win for everyone in the workplace.
Here are five things you want (and need) to say at work, and how to approach those conversations.
1. I really need this done Your coworker is holding up her end of the project bargain—and it’s making you look bad. Of course you want to explode, but yelling won’t make her work any faster. So put her on notice—politely. Think: “I really need this done by X date,” or, “I noticed that your assignments aren’t getting done in a timely manner. What do you think is the issue, and can I help you it out?” suggests Elizaga. “The first option puts your colleague on notice in a kind-but-direct way,” she explains, “while the second is more empathetic and tells her you know there’s a persistent issue that may be even bigger.”
2. I'm too busy with all the other projects you've assigned. Just when you had thought you’d maxed out your schedule, your boss tosses another project your way. You can and should let her know you’re swamped. “But if you straight-up complain, your boss will not take pity on you,” says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. Instead, list out what else you’re working on, and ask your boss if she can help you prioritize each project—or even shift one to the back burner. She’ll appreciate that you’re asking for help before you fall behind.
3. This still needs work. You were counting on crisp, clean copy and instead, you got handed a complete mess. When you’re focused on producing great work, it can be tough to stay patient with others who don’t seem to care, Elizaga commiserates. But if you keep your commentary constructive, not cruel, you can get better work in the future. Try something like, “You’ve done really excellent work before, so I know you can do better than what you just gave me,” Elizaga suggests. “Here, you give some positive feedback, but you also directly give them the message that what you have now simply is not good enough.”
4. That’s not my job. Taking on an extra project is one thing. Getting asked to grab coffee for your male boss—when you’re not his secretary—is quite another. No wonder you want to tell him where to put his double-shot caramel macchiato. But Jacinto recommends you resist the urge to tell him off, and instead use this as a training opportunity. For example, when a male coworker asked Jacinto to make him a lunch reservation, “I introduced him to Open Table and made it known this was something he'll need to sort out moving forward.”
5. Stop saying s*&t about me Office gossip happens, and sometimes, you’re the subject of it. You want to shut it down, but reacting emotionally may only make you a future target. So, Elizaga says, take a deep breath and say to the assumed source, “I’ve been hearing some things around here that are really tough to swallow for me—and some people have said it’s coming from you. Can we talk about any issues you might have with me, and how you and I can do things differently so that we can make these issues go away?” According to Elizaga, “You may not feel this way exactly, but it helps to start this way. And maybe, because you’re offering a balanced approach rather than accusing someone, you’ll get somewhere.”
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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