Every office has one person who has enough confidence to get other people to do their work for them.
And it’s usually not because they’re lazy. These people often have a lot of drive and are used to getting their own way, especially if they’re surrounded by people who let them get away with it.
Sometimes they might be completely oblivious to what they’re doing, but other times they might be trying to assert their dominance and walk all over you.
According to Juliet Hailstone, product marketing manager at talent management and HR company MHR, relationships about power are inevitable at work. However, you do have some control about how you deal with the situation.
Here, she offers five tips on how to stop these strong personalities from taking advantage of you.
1. Set expectations — and enforce them.
The key, Hailstone says, is knowing your own boundaries. Sometimes work pushes us out of our comfort zone, which is a good thing because it forces us to grow and learn. However, if we are asked to pick up work that other people are responsible for, this can get tiring, fast.
To avoid being seen as “negative,” Hailstone recommends you identify what you define as your own work, and suggest a solution to the cause of the problem.
“Perhaps the person responsible is struggling with time management or needs more training,” she told Business Insider. “Be firm, but show you care and would like to help find a solution.”
2. Make sure you’re being heard.
Of course, this is easier said than done. This is especially true, Hailstone says, if you’re not used to being assertive and hate confrontation. She says you should remember that this is ok, and many people feel this way.
“Have some phrases in mind to use when you are asked to do something you feel is not yours to do, and be direct,” she said. “Try not to make excuses and, again, be firm and factual.”
For example, you could say: “I agree that needs to be done. However, I am responsible for [this] and am not best placed to complete this task.”
If you can, suggest an alternative so it doesn’t look like you’re simply ignoring the problem.
3. Remember that ‘no’ is your friend.
People won’t necessarily realise they’re walking all over you — sometimes they might just be used to getting away with shifting responsibilities and don’t realise they’re even doing it.
Hailstone says that although “no” is a scary word, it’s actually a powerful business tool.
“It can certainly take practice to deliver confidently, but if you have good reason for unleashing its power, it can be the key to rebalancing an unbalanced relationship in the world of work,” she said.
4. Practise sticking up for yourself.
Like with everything, the more you stand up for yourself, the easier it will get. Hailstone says she often gives herself a pep-talk in the mirror if she knows she will be challenged in a meeting or presentation.
“We can all practise making eye contact, communicating with people, and saying no — with reasonable explanation — in our personal and work lives, which makes the process of asserting ourselves, delivering clear messages, and saying no a much more natural process,” she said.
5. Keep your own objectives in mind.
Refusing someone might make you feel guilty at first, but remember that your needs are just as important as your colleague’s.
“Taking this approach means that your ‘no’ response is objective, well thought out, and difficult to reason against,” Hailstone said. “It will help to rebalance the power in your relationship with the person doing the requesting and, ultimately, should lead to more rational and more reasonable requests being made in the future.”
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