Post Academic

Stifling Workplace Drama: After the Drama

PhotobucketIn the final installment of stopping workplace theatrics, I’ll cover the post-drama debriefing. Drama will always break out in the office, no matter how well everyone seems to get along. What counts is how you handle the situation and indicate how drama will be handled in the future.

Root out the true source of the drama. Sometimes, the two people shouting at each other or flaming each other through emails aren’t the most dramatical ones in your office. Imagine some creepy high school kid who lets two girls fight over him. One of your coworkers might have triggered a brawl and is letting it unfold so he can cut through and get what he wants. It’s a slick move because the shouting gets all the attention. You need to take a step back and figure out where the noise is coming from.

Do not get involved. Refer to the “don’t pile on” moment from the “During the Drama” post. If a colleague asks you why everyone started shouting all of a sudden and you must recount the incident, try not to add judgment. Likewise, you can listen to others recount the incident, but just smile and nod. It is always in your best interest to let drama dissipate, and then you can think rationally about the problem.

Caricature of Lionel Brough as Bottom in 1905 Vanity Fair. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Stifling Workplace Drama: During the Drama

PhotobucketThis week, I’m covering how to put a stop to workplace theatrics. It’s okay to be dramatical on reality television, but it is never okay in the workplace because it hampers everyone else’s ability to get things done.

Do not get emotional. Post Academic has addressed this before in sections on why you shouldn’t cry and why you shouldn’t get angry if something goes wrong at the office. Emotional reactions are perceived as a sign of weakness. Whatever your dispute is, chances are that an outside force will be called in to mediate, and the outside force will probably rely on reason to make a decision since he or she hasn’t been marinating in a brew of tears and rage. (I can personally vouch that the few times I’ve gotten emotional in the workplace, I paid for it and lost the battle. Do not do this.)

Handle personal insults outside the meeting. If someone insults you or goes too far during a meeting, do not engage. Change the subject if you have to. After the meeting, talk to the individual privately. Usually, when someone hurls an insult during a meeting, he or she wants to display power. Reacting to such a move confirms their power. You don’t have to sit back and take it, but you need to retaliate elsewhere to make clear that such behavior won’t work.

Image of French actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin from 1898 Vanity Fair. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Importance of Stifling Workplace Drama

PhotobucketWorkplace drama seems inescapable. Hamsters suffer from it, as people get frustrated with each other after spending too much time together. Academics suffer from it, as people spend too much time apart and forget how to look at situations from another point of view. Either way, drama is the one thing that will destroy your work life and unravel all your projects. Why is drama so dangerous?

Drama is contagious. Once someone starts in with the drama, it will spread. If a person is allowed to be dramatical, then others who have kept their inner drama queens quiet might let them loose.

Drama obscures the purpose of the original meeting or project. A dramatical person will make the meeting all about his or her personality. They may suggest that if a project is carried out in a certain way, they will never recover. That may or may not be true. You won’t be able to tell with all the theatrics in the room.

Caricature of Sarah Bernhardt from 1879 Vanity Fair. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

A Post Academic’s Guide to the Office: Mingling, With or Without Liquor

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on November 4, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe “Post Academic’s Guide to the Office” series covers the secret rules of the Hamster World that no one ever told you. Most of these rules involve non-work activities, such as romance and food. The last installment covers the trickiest area of office etiquette–boozing.

Boozing in academia is normal, especially since the students are always around to party. Grad students often throw parties for each other, and the same is true for professors. The booze rules for Hamsters, however, are different, and shows like “Mad Men” might lead you to assume that office hamsters must drink to get through the day. A few tips as you wonder whether or not it’s okay to tipple:

Some companies have strict no-liquor policies … That may be related to how the boss feels about liquor. Do not assume that it is okay to have liquor at your office parties or drink on the company dime.

… while others don’t mind if you drink on the job. The three-martini lunch really does exist in a few places, but there’s a catch: You have to be able to work afterwards. No wetting yourself a la Freddy Rumsen. They really expect you to deliver, and being able to play “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” on your fly does not count. I’ve always felt that the three-martini lunch is an endurance test. In some cases, it might be fine if it’s Friday and you have a beer when you go out for lunch, but eat food with it so you’re still functional.

More after the jump! Image of a Long Island Iced Tea by rootology from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

A Post Academic’s Guide to the Office: The Kitchen

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on November 2, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionIn the last entry for “A Post Academic’s Guide to the Office,” I discussed what happens when you get too close to your coworkers. Today, I’ll tackle one of the easiest ways to alienate your peers–poor kitchen habits. Nothing pisses people off faster than messing with their food. In grad school, you were probably at home, and you made your own lunch. In the Hamster World, you’ll be sharing kitchen space, and these battles are territorial and dangerous.

Don’t eat anyone else’s lunch, ever. You’re working late at night. You’re starving and a pizza will take forever. Trust me: Be patient and order the pizza. Sure, you can sneak some salad dressing. You might even be able to sneak some mustard or cream cheese, but beware of bags that appear to contain a full meal. You’ll be sorry because the bag has probably been in the fridge since prehistoric times.

Put your name on your food. Writing your name on your food with a sticky note or a magic marker is a deterrent. It suggests that you’ll be watching if anyone dares think of eating your leftovers.

Don’t throw anyone else’s food out. Even if you know that tub of mac-and-cheese has been in the fridge for a month, don’t toss it. You will be surprised by what people are willing to eat. I’ve worked in dot-coms, and it never ceases to amaze. Some people do not believe in expiration dates. Either that, or they have stomach linings made of Kevlar.

More Hamster World kitchen tips after the jump! Restaurant, Mandeville, Louisiana. Old refrigerator. Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

A Post Academic’s Guide to the Office: Romance

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on November 1, 2010
Tags: , , ,

post academicThis week I’ll be providing tips to post academics who may be navigating a Hamster office for the first time. Some rituals will be new to you, and they haven’t been covered in Hamster books, nor are they as droll as the issues that arise on “The Office.”

We’ll start with a frequent Hamster World issue: the office romance. Arnold has noted before that academics tend to breed with academics. I met my own spouse while in grad school at UCI. Pairing up is seen as normal, or at least inevitable. Even a few professors start fishing in the grad student dating pool, though some are more successful than others.

If you are moving from academia to the Hamster World, you will soon discover that the Hamster Workplace is not–I repeat, not–a good place to find a date, no matter what TV shows tell you. Why?

People become less attractive when you spend 8 hours a day with them. The dude who eats the stinky lunch every day of the week? The woman who is always shrieking about her computer problems yet who refuses to learn Ctrl-Alt-Delete? The guy who keeps mooching all your office supplies? The woman who left a diaphragm in the wastebasket of the ladies’ bathroom? (true story) No thank you! Romance requires a little distance. If you work a Hamster gig with someone, you’ll feel like you’ve been married for 50 years, even if you’ve only worked together for a week.

More reasons to be careful with love in the workplace after the jump! Comic book cover image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.