How to Deal With Coworkers and Supervisors

Your office may be a minefield, but you can deal with coworkers and supervisors fairly.

Your office may be a minefield, but you can deal with coworkers and supervisors fairly.

Whether you're a hermit or a social butterfly at work, there are acceptable, effective ways to deal with coworkers and supervisors. As an employee, you expect fair, equitable treatment from your coworkers and supervisors. If you're a supervisor, you probably believe that if you deal fairly and honestly with employees, you'll get better performance. Toxic employees sometimes present a challenge, but you can deal with that challenge. Whatever the situation, professionalism is the order of the day, even if the person in the next cubicle is a lazy, lying dolt.

Promote the perception of fairness in your coworkers and your organization. In "A Role in Justice in Organizations," Yochi Cohen-Charash and Paul Spector list this as the first rule for achieving fairness in the workplace.

Keep personal biases and self-interest out of work decisions.The AFL-CIO, the federation of unions in the United States, says that chief executive officers in America earn 380 times as much as the average worker. In their research, Cohen-Charash and Spector discovered that workers perceived "personal self-interests" as unfair.

Tell the truth and don't listen to rumor. You should ensure the "goodness of the information" on which you act, according to Cohen-Charash and Spector. Spreading rumors in the workplace leads to ill will among your coworkers and your supervisors. Ignore the office rumor monger.

When dealing with coworkers, treat them fairly. Unfair treatment might mean everything from verbal abuse to sexual harassment. The federal government recognizes both as forms of workplace violence. Don't hesitate to confront coworkers who engage in these practices. They're not only toxic; they're illegal.

Be aware of but don't try to change your coworkers' beliefs, attitudes and lifestyle. Cohen-Charash and Spector refer to these elements as the workers' "needs, values and outlooks." If coworkers see you as considerate of their situation and even-handed, most will appreciate it.

Accept lousy assignments from supervisors with grace, if they're appropriate for your skill set and aren't morally objectionable.This doesn't mean you should be a doormat or take every bad job around, though. If a coworker routinely drops work on your desk because he takes on too much in an effort to look good, confront him.

Tip

  • If you aren't a confrontational person but feel threatened or intimidated by a toxic coworker, mention this person and your concerns to your supervisor. The worker's actions may amount to harassment, a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
 

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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