It works at work

We spend a lot of time at work. For some, that’s a place of camaraderie, good will, and cooperation, where co-workers, supervisors, and customers feel like family. Everybody pitches in; it’s relaxed and fun while the work gets done.

Less delightful environments exist too, and if you work in one, you know it! When you’re not in charge (or even if you are) can you do anything to improve it?

Take Robin and Jessie’s situation. Jessie is unhappy at work and it’s all Robin’s fault. Robin always gets back late from lunch, and then she hangs around Jessie’s workstation chatting about where she’s been, what she’s bought, and who she’s seen. Jessie feels she must be polite, so she talks too.

However, when quitting time rolls around, Jessie’s work isn’t done and it’s all because Robin has wasted her time. Jessie feels she has to stay late to finish. It’s annoying and it’s not fair! Robin never stays late. So Jessie wants a change, but she doesn’t know what to do.

The basic premise of Reality Therapy is that one can only control one’s own behaviour, not that of others. So this approach would have Jessie examine her own behaviour with an eye to trying something different herself to improve her situation.

So let’s ask Jessie, “What do you want to happen with Robin?”

“I really like her and I like to talk to her, but not when I’m at work if I end up staying late.”

So what does Jessie do now when Robin arrives late and chats?

According to Jessie, “Sometimes I talk to her. Mostly I listen, and if I’m really busy, I hardly say anything. She doesn’t even notice. But I can’t concentrate when she’s talking so I still fall behind. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to offend her.”

Does this happen all the time?

Jessie says, “A lot. If I happen to be at my desk when Robin comes back from lunch, she’ll come right in and sit down.”

Are there times when this doesn’t happen? Jessie thinks back and realizes, “If I’m not at my desk, Robin just goes to work.”

So what are Jessie’s options? Jessie tells me, “I could tell the boss, but then I’d be seen as a complainer. Or, I could tell Robin straight up that I don’t have time right now, but that would be rude. I guess I could suggest we meet after work. Or I could just arrange to be away from my desk at 2:00; that’s when she usually gets back.”

No matter which option Jessie chooses to try, a Reality Therapy approach will always recommend that she remain courteous, without criticizing, complaining, or blaming.

Could trying something different help you in your workplace?  You are welcome to let me know.

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