7 Workplace Faux-Pas That Will Alienate Your Colleagues
Asking two people for the same favor and leaving one of them hanging is not cool.
“Marina, can I get your advice on something? It’s kind of personal, and I value your experience in dealing with with these things.”
I checked my watch. It was almost 8pm; I was starving and ready to get out of the office. But ‘Alice’ explained, “I just trust your perspective and don’t know anyone else who would get it.”
Okay, you got me. “Sure, let’s talk. How can I help?”
Alice described her dilemma: She was re-negotiating a contract with a work associate. But the associate was also her personal friend, and the negotiation was tricky because there wasn’t a win-win outcome. Alice didn’t want to play hardball and lose a friend, but also didn’t want to be taken advantage of. We spent a few hours talking through the different ways she could handle it. I took six pages of notes and drew a matrix with pros and cons of her options. I felt like she really needed my help, so I made the effort and was happy to do it.
After the late-night brainstorm, Alice thanked me. As we left the building, she added, “You know, I also talked to Tiffany, Mary, Brittany, Cory, and Robbie about this. Mary and Robbie had a different take. I guess now I have to weigh my options.”
I was taken aback a little, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. It wasn’t offensive, per se. Lots of people get advice from a range of people. Why shouldn’t they? And yet, it felt like some implicit social contract had just been broken. Like this was some minor breach of trust that was kind of hard to spot.
I just wish I knew Alice was running a panel. I would have still helped her — but maybe wouldn’t have felt that level of pressure to perform. Perhaps that was the point though: she needed my A-game. Which might be why I felt ever so slightly manipulated by her omission about asking five other peope for the same advice.
Minor breaches of trust, breaks in etiquette, and other faux-pas that don’t rise to the level of rude happen all the time. We don’t get full-on mad, but it doesn’t sit well either.