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The office mole … Depression in the workplace … Is the customer always right?

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February 1, 2013

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Q: My colleague “Mario” repeats everything he hears. He also emails things to our VP that we discuss amongst ourselves.  He’s out to boost his reputation with  at our expense. We all think he’s disgusting. Will this guy go far?

A: Mario-the-Mole is overt and not too swift. As moles are regularly enlisted to advance  agendas, guaranteed he is purposefully being fed data. As for Mario going far professionally, the answer is a resounding “NO.” Management knows they can’t trust him with confidential information or with a key organizational role that commands capacity and respect. By trying to play both sides to gain the most points, Mario has in effect handcuffed himself. He will feel the sting from those tight cuffs for years to come.

 

Q: I’ve been at my job for the past seven years and have suffered from depression this past year from a recent divorce, my son’s troubles with it and school, and the loss of my mother-in-law, with whom I was close. My work performance declined, and now I am in a position where I could be laid off. Should I take a leave of absence to get medical help for my depression and to restore my confidence so I can return to work on more stable footing?  Or should I look for another job?

A: Bad stuff multiples on itself and I’m sorry this happened to you. Short-term disability leave (up to three months) is common in cases where depression sets in due to a major life shift. If you like your job and want to stay, sit down with your boss and make a plan. An EAP (employee assistance program) counsellor can be brought in to help you and your son with counseling and talk therapy. The EAP counsellor and your family doctor can develop a recovery program specifically suited to your needs. Should it be determined you need time off work, once you are ready, you would start back part time and gradually build up to full time. I hope you regain your balance and get your smile back soon.          

 

Q: A customer had her living room drapes hanging for three months, but she returned to my drapery store with her two children and next-door neighbour saying she no longer liked the colour and wanted an exchange. When I said no, on cue from the neighbour, she and her kids cried up a storm. I had no choice but to give her new drapes. Do other merchants put up with this crap?

A: That “innocent” mother of two held you hostage.  To protect your business and not scare off the paying customers, you exchanged the used drapes. You took a hit short-term, but long-term you will win. You have retained your solid reputation and your client base, and perhaps even gained empathy from customers who witnessed that well-staged piece of theatre. And yes, all service sector professionals (myself included) must deal with manipulators of various kinds. You handled it beautifully. Bravo.

About the Author(s)

Vera Held

Vera Held is a coach, facilitator, speaker, writer, PR consultant, and the author of business best-seller How Not to Take it Personally. Send your tough workplace questions to Vera at vera@veraheld.com.

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