“Ask Leadership Coach Vickie” Answers Question about Rude People at Work—people you “have to” talk to!
Dear Vickie: I realize it is important to be kind and polite to all employees from the janitor to the receptionist to the CEO. I just started a new job and the receptionist here is very condescending toward me. I think I might have gotten the job she had applied for. I suspect she’s jealous and that is why she is pushing my buttons. What do I do to have a more cordial relationship toward her?
-Trying to be Kind and Polite
Dear Kind and Polite,
You are so right… This is one of those “golden rules.” “Be nice to others and they will be nice to you.” Unfortunately, there are some who do not believe it. The receptionist could be feeling very insecure with herself for a number of reasons. It could be that the she is unhappy with being in what she perceives as a dead-end job. She could also be unhappy because she feels that life has been unkind to her–either personally or professionally. Lastly, and I do hate this one: the receptionist could be downright mean. Let’s discount this one because most of us believe that there is good in everyone. So what should we do? My suggestion would be to continue to be the person that you are. Even though the receptionist is condescending, continue to be kind and polite. Although there are some folks who try, it’s been my experience that no one can stay mad at you forever. In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to get to know her by introducing a few niceties such as taking her out to lunch or talking about her day. A little “girl talk” can enhance her mood and show her the importance of her job. After all, receptionists are in powerful positions because they have access to key information, which is the real POWER. She can become an important ally to you. Make her your friend and you build loyalty, trust, and camaraderie. Enjoy your journey!
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