Have you ever used one of these excuses to justify being a jerk at work?

Work stress

Wow!! You can be rude to a colleague and co-worker ……..well, sort of, as long as you can justify it to yourself!
I am sure I don’t need to be the one to tell you, it is fairly easy to p*** off your fellow work colleagues or co-workers – whether it be not making the coffee on your round, relying on others to produce your documents for you or just by being an arrogant, self-opinionated prat!

I was reading a post on the blog Workengagement.com, where they discussed three self justifying rationales for being rude at work. It got me a little intrigued, I have to say. Working in the recruitment sector, you could say I have worked with ‘more than a few’ people, who seem to have gone out of their way to p*** off everyone around them……just to get to their next placement (ring any bells with you?).
Have you knowingly gone out of your way to upset someone at work? I know I have – I know you won’t believe that of me, the shy unassuming person that I am, fearful of giving an opinion …..not!

So, let’s assume for a minute you have upset someone at work, and caused a bad working environment, did you justify it to yourself with one of these three excuses?

  1. “Sorry for the way I behaved; I was just so stressed.”
    You shout or insult someone because you are under great pressure (real or just perceived) at work. Due to tight deadlines or grueling schedules, people become anxious,irritable and very short-tempered. (Don’t look at me – well,ok, occasionally!)
    These types of statements express one person’s tension. They also dump some of that tension onto others. After acting in this way, people tend to acknowledge that they were not on their best behavior. They may even apologise for saying rude things to others, saying, “Sorry for the way I behaved; I was just so stressed.” The implication and the hope is that this was uncharacteristic behavior that won’t happen again, but we know different, don’t we, recruiters!
  2. “Don’t you know what you are doing? Am I the only one that can do this job?”
    You choose the pushy and aggressive route, rather than just being assertive. You believe that as a leader you have to drive people hard, to get a good day’s work out if them, and believe (arrogantly) that you are doing them a favour – they are learning from you after all!
    The boundary between assertive and pushy is thin. Looking after yourself and your task in hand – project deadline or client presentation maybe –  can result in stepping on everyone else. Assertiveness is a powerful tool that can slide into aggression when charged with extra emotion.
    In leadership positions, it can be tempting to take a tough approach: focus on results and take no prisoners. But in doing so, there is an ever-present danger of showing disrespect to others. What employees perceive as disrespect, you perceive as mentoring. Recruiters call it tough love.
  3. “Sorry, I was only joking…….I was …honestly”
    This is probably going to have the majority of you nodding your head as you read this. You believe others are being too sensitive and don’t take too kindly to the “joke” or comment you made at their expense. So you justify it by saying that they  take offense too easily and that they lack a sense of humor. You actually then take the thinking a stage further by saying that they are too ‘soft and delicate’ to be working in your team.
    This attitude provides the comfort of entirely denying one’s bad behavior. You put any fault would be with the person taking offense who lacks humor or a feel for the group’s “lively and straightforward culture.”

Sorry to say, I have been guilty of all of these in my time and I bet you have as well at some stage. But the hardest part is to actually recognise it and learn from it next time. I did.

Are there other good self justifying reasons, for any specific actions that have happened in your workplace? 

Go on, share them with me, you know you want to. Just change the names of the individuals!

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We consult, train, tweet, blog, text, post, speak, share, read, update, photograph, video and talk about recruitment. At Sirona Consulting we work with companies, recruitment agencies, RPO’s HR & recruitment technology vendors and conference / event organisers, helping them understand and integrate social media into their recruitment strategies. We have have been doing this now for twelve years, working with many companies along the way, from small independent recruiters right through to large international companies. We are honest, ethical and have experience of working across a range of different industry sectors delivering success in the UK, Europe, Middle East, APAC and the United States.

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