Ending the Cold War Between You & Your Co-Worker

July 19, 2010  |  

M.A.D.

It’s the reason why the U.S. and U.S.S.R. engaged in the Cold War.  The acronym was how Americans and Soviets described what would happen if they were to engage in nuclear war fare: “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Most Madames aren’t working on The Manhattan project, but all of us experience plenty of moments in the workplace can leave us just plain MAD.

MAD (as hell) is what we feel when our work nemesis takes our idea.

MAD (as hell) is what we feel when our co-worker purposely makes us look bad.

MAD (as hell) is what we feel when the heffa in Cubicle #5 drains out the last of the coffee right before we come to get our cups.

Tired of the back and forth proxy wars with the wench in Cubicle 5?  Consider these few lessons from history on ways to end your workplace duel.

Channel Your Inner Tommy Thompson

Gen. Tommy Thompson was an ambassador to Moscow who knew how to read coded telegraph messages sent by the Russians at the height of the tension.  Lesson: be like him and try to use empathy to read between the lines.  If your coworker was screwed by a previous colleague, odds are she is going to treat you like she had been in the past.  People carry baggage with them, even to their jobs!  Be sure to analyze what’s really up with her before reacting!

Don’t Let Others Break Your Chernobyl

The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl sucked for the Soviets because their own homies never told them about it; the outside media did! Lesson:  Acknowledge your mistakes before the office piranhas drag you through them.  Realize that admitting you messed up is ten times better than having to explain why you didn’t fess up sooner.   And when you acknowledge that you went wrong- don’t just be a lame duck.  Come ready with a plan to clean up and move forward.

Go To the Moon

Part of what made JFK’s “we will go to the moon by the end of this decade” speech such a great moment was that it set the bar higher than anyone had ever thought to in the past.  Lesson: Do the unexpected.  Go above and beyond what your competition has come to expect.  This may sound like an amazing moment to shine- and it is.  But more than anything, it’s time to put in work.  Think NASA, the boring parts of Apollo 13 work.  Spend hours practicing when no one is looking and do many test runs of that presentation even if it’s in your bathroom mirror.  When you knock it out the park- they’ll have no choice but to watch in awe.

And don’t worry, all battles (even the ones you have with so-called “workplace Beyotches”) come to an end.  Play it smart and your wall will come crumbling down in due time.

“Wonder Woman Files” is a weekly career column on Madame Noire. Stay tuned for more topics, comment or write us at editors@madamenoire.com if you have suggestions!

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