Handling a sticky situation
Perhaps on different levels, we all seem to have the same work issues, and none is more difficult than dealing with someone who goes over your head, be it a co-worker or a customer. How do you handle the situation with composure and competence?
Trying to argue your authority to the offender is hypocritical and running damage control to the boss make you look guilty. The real way to remain professional is to accept it and be the bigger person.
- Try to understand the reasoning behind the offense. The person may not have had mal-intent, and if he did, being malicious with your approach isn’t going to solve anything. It will only bring you to his level.
- If the offender is someone new, assume he isn’t yet privy to the office chain of command. If your chain of command is official like the military, the problem will be addressed by your superior promptly. If it is truly against policy to break the chain of command, rest assured, it is clear to the superior involved who is wrong in the situation. Silence and confidence in your boss is the best defense.
- If the office chain of command is an unwritten social norm, assume the wrongdoer, if new to the team, just hasn’t assimilated. Befriend him. Show him you are trustworthy and understanding.
Customers that go over your head
If you are in an industry reliant on customers, you will, on more than many occasions, deal with someone who wants to skip over you. Know this. People who have no solidity to their arguments follow a pattern.
- They make accusations, resort to name calling, and point out your flaws.
- Once talking down to you doesn’t work, they get loud. They try to draw attention to you in an effort to make you misstep. Don’t take the bait. Right or wrong on your original point, stooping to his belligerence with your own passive aggressiveness is a quick way to lose authority and professionalism.
- Sometimes steps one and two escalate quickly. If you don’t cave to these previous attempts, the offender will begin to shout for a manager or superior immediately or he may stomp away file a complaint at a later time. Have confidence in this type of situation that even if you have made a mistake in dealing with the customer, the problem is all his.
Ultimately, when a person goes over your head, as long as you maintain composure, you maintain control.