Every workplace also has its quirks and jerks. Some coworkers may not be as helpful as they seem. While they may not out to get you fired or anything near that malicious, they may not be interested in helping out a new employee. You might find yourself in an office with backstabbing colleagues or even an overbearing boss, for example. With so many potential pitfalls waiting around every corner, learning how to defend yourself at work is essential.
Be an Active Listener
Being an active listener goes a long way toward dealing with the people around you, especially those who may not have a reason to help you out. You don’t have to wait for someone to volunteer information. Find out what you can about the people around you, the company, and the work you’re doing. Ask questions and make an effort to listen to the answers.
Keep a Record of Your Work
Keeping a record of your work is important no matter where you are, but it can be even more important when you’re dealing with pushback or criticism. Keep track of the work you’re doing, including not just the tasks you’re given, but also what you were doing before and after, who you talked to, and everything else you can think of related to your work. This information might not seem like it’s important, but it can be a lifesaver when things get tricky in the workplace.
Set Boundaries With Difficult People
It’s important to be sensitive to the fact that you’re new, but that doesn’t mean you should let other people walk all over you. Keep track of what your coworkers are asking you to do, and be careful not to overextend yourself. If you’re constantly being asked to do more than what’s expected of you, it might be worth setting boundaries. If someone asks you to do something above and beyond your job, explain that you’re already doing X, Y, and Z and ask if you can simply do that instead. Be polite but firm. Let your colleagues know that you’re happy to help, but that you can’t do everything in a single day or week.
Document Everything You Can
Even if you have no reason to think that you’re in danger of losing your job, there’s always a chance that a coworker or even a general problem at your company could cause a problem for you. If you ever have to go to HR or even bring things to a lawsuit, the more evidence you have, the better. Keep a log of things that might cause problems, including anything along the lines of discrimination in the workplace. While you don’t want to be seen as a tattle-tale, it’s essential that you keep track of anything that might cause a problem for you.
Know Your Rights
In many places, employees have rights that they might not even be aware of. Having a strong understanding of your rights can put you at an advantage against any potential aggressors. Keep an eye on the news. Laws and regulations change constantly, so it’s important to stay informed. If you ever work for someone who is crossing the line or violating your rights, you may need to talk to an attorney for employment law. A professional can help you file a lawsuit if needed.
You never know what will happen in the workplace. Whether you’re dealing with a difficult boss or just a general jerk, you need to be prepared for anything. When you know what to look out for, you’ll have an easier time handling problems before they escalate.