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Tips for Handling Sticky Situations with Co-Employees July 5, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Once you start working, you will find that there are certain situations in the office that can seem awkward, tricky or just downright embarrassing. But don’t worry. Everyone who has ever been a first-timer at work experienced some uncomfortable moment and survived. Here are some of the most common sticky situations that new employees find themselves in and tips on how to deal:

Manlibre ka naman…
Your co-employees will always find a reason to make you whip out your wallet and buy them something, especially if you’re new and are about to receive your first sueldo. Now whether or not you do treat them for lunch or a round or two of beers, that’s really up to you. However, do not feel pressured to do this.

The unang sueldo treat is a practice that is as antiquated as it is unfair. You can, as a gesture of goodwill, buy a gallon or two of ice cream that you all can share but if you’ll need your first salary to pay for junior’s tuition or for electricity or rent, you don’t have to make libre. Even if your makukulit co-workers remind you every hour. Here’s what to do.

If a group of co-workers tease you, simply smile and say, ‘Sorry, I can’t. Gagamitin ko yung pera, e.’ If one or two walks up to your table and ask you, say, ‘Sorry, ha? I’d love to treat you guys. After all, this is my first paycheck. But I really have to pay for (fill in the blanks here). I hope you understand.’

Say this as politely as you can without being apologetic. Be firm but not dismissive so you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Once you’ve said this, don’t open the subject again. If you apologize too much, you’ll embarrass your co-workers. You’re a newbie – that’s a bad thing to do. Say what you have to say and then drop the subject.

And one more thing… do not promise. Don’t say you can’t treat them for lunch but you will treat them for dinner or on your next payday. There are many freeloaders in this world and some of your co-workers may be like that.

If you refuse now, you don’t have to contend with anything later. And don’t worry about being seen as kuripot. In these difficult times, it’s a virtue to be proud of. It’s better to be a tightwad than to be galante for one day and penniless for the rest of the week or two until the next payday. Show your generosity some other time when you truly can spare the money.

‘Di mo alam ‘yan!?’
As a newbie, expect to tread unfamiliar waters. Trust me, on your first day, you’ll even have to ask someone where the wash room is (that’s nice-speak for C.R.). So you can imagine what it will be like when you’re faced with co-workers who are completely unhelpful. Some of them may even be unafraid to rub your ignorance in your face.

If you are unlucky enough to cross paths with these individuals and they say something like, ‘Di mo alam ‘yan? Dapat alam mo ‘yan. ‘Di ka ba na-orient?’ Say, ‘I don’t know, e. Could you show me or maybe point me to someone who can help me instead?’

If you talk like this, all businesslike and polite, you don’t go into defense mode.  If the person is naturally unhelpful, you take the responsibility out of their hands by asking whether they can point you to someone who has the soul and intelligence to help a newcomer like you. It also shows you as a decent individual who cannot be intimidated.

Uy, working hard, a. O hardly working?’
If someone tells you this, just smile. What they are saying is simply their perception and may not be the truth. Most of them are really just trying to tease you. Don’t feel the need to respond to something inane like this, unless you have the gift for gab and the person who’s saying it is your new-found friend.

Iba na talaga ang may kakilala. Naha-hire kaagad.
Some co-workers might make this comment if they find that a boss or someone already within the organization is an acquaintance of yours. This can especially be troublesome if that person was somehow responsible for getting you hired.

When people say this, they’re probably questioning your qualifications. This is often true if they know someone who was also after the job you got and didn’t make the cut. They kind of take it personally and question the management’s decision – even if they have absolutely nothing to do with it.

When someone says this, face them squarely and very calmly say, ‘Oh? You think hindi ako deserving ma-hire? Ikaw naman. Qualified naman ako. I went through the interview. Besides, it’s like you’re questioning the boss’ decision nyan, ha?’ Say this with a smile and say it gently. Again, don’t be sarcastic or you’ll make an enemy out of that person. Showing a bit of humor can help lighten up the situation.

Don’t smirk or sound sarcastic. Medyo malambing will do. This will establish your confidence in what you can bring to the company and stop these intrigeros and intregeras in their tracks.

Magkano’ng sueldo mo?
Ewwww… in this day and age, there are still people who ask this very personal question. Sometimes, they even add, ‘Siguro, malaki, ano?’ Don’t fall into this trap. First of all, how much you make is nobody’s business – just yours. Second, you don’t owe it to other co-workers to tell them your salary and make them feel: a) superior because they make more or b) lugi because they got hired first and you’re making more.

How to deal? Simply smile and say, ‘Oy, confidential yun, ha? I can’t tell you. My boss will hang me by the throat.’ And then ignore them. If they insist, tease or annoy you, tell them, ‘Look, I’m sure you’re curious but I prefer to keep my salary confidential. My boss decided on it and if I told you how much, baka mausog pa e lalong mabawasan, ok?’

As you can see, when faced with sticky situations like those listed above, there is no need to over-react or be angry or backed into a corner. Hold your ground. You’re there to work, not to make enemies or embarrass co-workers. Practice wit, good humor and compassion. That should help set an example to your fellow co-workers without putting yourself on the spot.

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