Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate. In the next post, Sandra Lopez, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, will respond.

Tracy walked through the front door of her workplace and passed the desk of her VP’s top assistant. Sasha looked up from her computer but did not even acknowledge Tracy. She just went back to what she was doing earlier.

When Tracy first started working at XYZ Corp., she would always smile and greet Sasha but stopped after a few weeks. Sasha would only acknowledge her with a slight nod of her head and continue working. Tracy didn’t feel as though she should make an effort to keep being friendly to Sasha if Sasha wasn’t even trying to be cordial.

Tracy bumped into one of her coworkers, Sian.  “Sasha is in a really bad mood today,” she commented.

Sian laughed. “When isn’t she ever in a bad mood? C’mon, she has nine cats and has no husband. I’d be in a mood too!”  They both laughed at this.

A few weeks later, Tracy was assigned to work on a charity event with Sasha who volunteered to plan the event.  Why would her manager partner her up with a person who was such a downer? Sasha was the last person anyone would think that would enjoy doing charitable work.  People who want to help others are friendly, caring, and warm.  Sasha was the absolute opposite of that.

A week passed and Sasha and Tracy were still not very friendly towards each other.  When they ended up having to eat lunch together, they either talked about the charity event or ate in complete silence.  Tracy was a very outgoing person and loved talking to people, while Sasha seemed to be the exact opposite of that. The uncomfortable silence between the two of them was taking a toll on her.

That night when she got home from work, Tracy complained to her partner, “How am I supposed to work on a charity event with someone who has nothing to say and has such a superior attitude.  Just because she gets to sit in the Exec Team meetings, she thinks she’s better than the rest of us.  I don’t know how I’m going to survive the stress of working with someone like that with all the other stuff I have to do.”

What do you think?

1.  What should Tracy do?

2.  What do you think about Sian’s comment?

3.  How might Tracy consciously use herself to better handle this situation?

Filed under: conscious use of selfmaking positive changestesting assumptionsworkplace dynamics

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