It’s Not Fair!!! How to Go from Whining to Winning

I was recently presented with 3 different work scenarios, each requiring a playbook to get from whining to winning. The people who received them found them effective so I thought I’d share them with you:

Scenario 1: You receive an outraged email from a colleague

  1. Do NOT reply via email. You might as well get out gasoline and a match.
  2. If necessary, give yourself time to cool off— even if you just walk around the block.
  3. Pick up the phone and let that person know you received their email and you would like to have a problem-solving conversation. Note: use the phrase “problem-solving” out loud. This sets the tone.
  4. When you get to the meeting, plan to listen more than you talk: lots of people burn themselves out/realize once you’re face to face that they don’t need to be as aggressive.
  5. Focus on how to move forward rather than on what occurred. Ask questions such as, “What systems do we need to put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

Scenario 2: Your colleague takes credit for your work: 

  1. Set up a time to speak face to face with your colleague. Again, don’t rely on email for problem solving.
  2. Be factual about what has been occurring (and bring a copy of the paper trail.) For example you might say, “On X date you were asked to do Y. As this email exchange shows, I did that work.”
  3. Don’t fall back on feelings, e.g.: “I feel like you’ve been taking credit for my work.”
  4. Stay away from “you” statements, e.g. “You always do this! You leave early and then you take credit for work that was done after you left!” Stick with “I” statements, e.g. “To clarify: I stayed until 7 p.m. to make sure I completed X project before leaving.”
  5. Give them a choice about how to clean up the perception that they were responsible for completing the work. This might sound like, “Would you like to alert X about how this work was completed or would you like me to let him know?”  Giving your colleague the opportunity to cooperate with you can help to heal the rift that has occurred and/or will let you know if this is a scenario you will need to guard against in the future.

Scenario 3: You are denied a raise/Receive a bad performance review

  1.  Don’t respond (let’s face it, react) in the moment. Set up a time to follow up. This will allow you to collect your thoughts and keep your boss from feeling pounced on.
  2. Plan to take notes. This will keep you calmer and make you look and feel more organized.
  3. Ask for specific instances/examples. This will help with goal setting and/or provide clarity about whether the denial was due to your performance or the health of the business as a whole.
  4. Request a date on which you will follow up about how you are doing regarding meeting your boss’s goals/standards.
  5. Make a specific “ask” about the possibility of getting a raise/title change should you meet these goals– don’t assume that simply meeting these goals will ensure rewards.

Happy winning!


If you found this post helpful, you might also like “What to Do with Others’ Resource Guarding Issues”