PROFESSIONAL SURVIVAL 101: Speaking Up–But Keeping Your Cool–At Work

Written by Angel Rodriguez on March 5, 2015

After 18 years in the cutthroat business that is corporate America, I have learned a few things:

1. Speak up diplomatically.

2. Speak up diplomatically.

3. Speak up diplomatically.

One day I was working with a remote computing technician on resolving an issue for one of my users. It was a Blackberry issue, commonplace, nothing out of the norm. Yet, for some reason this tech was giving me a hard time. He was refusing to answer my questions, displaying a nasty attitude, and not being helpful at all. Here’s the kicker, I recognized his voice from prior conversations, and this was not the first time he did this. Well, I decided that I had taken enough of this guy’s attitude.

I’m a very passive, easy going individual. Yes, I am! Stop it!  Sometimes I’ve gotten carried away on talk forums, but that’s all in good fun. At work it is a different story, I learned very early on that you have to maintain a high level of professionalism. You should always treat your clients and support staff with the same respect and kindness that you would have them treat you.

Even on my worst of days, my clients could never tell if I was in a bad mood. The users would often ask me “Angel, how can you always stay so calm and clear headed around all this chaos”.  I get stressed out the same as everyone else, but I recognize that aggression, or terrible attitudes are pointless. I never snap, I never scream, and I never lost my temper with anyone at work. I focus on staying calm and collected, even when they are cursing and screaming at me.

Back to the remote computing guy on the phone.

So let’s not forget, I sat on a trading floor, and things had to get done. I don’t like to be difficult, or mean, but I had to be effective. If you are preventing me from doing my job because you feel lazy, or you are in a bad mood, or whatever, well I’m sorry that’s not going to fly.  My clients need things done fast, and they put plenty of pressure on me. It was a trading floor, that’s the nature of that environment. Since they put pressure on me, I have to put pressure on you. If I ask you for a Blackberry Enterprise reset, trust that I have already covered my bases and simply provide me with that reset. I have done this 100 times over, you are the new guy, trust me and do as I have kindly requested.

Well, this guy really wanted to be unhelpful, and refused to do what I needed. After it was all said and done, I diplomatically fired off a casual email to him and his superiors simply asking for clarifications on a few matters that didn’t seem quite clear to me based on the phone conversation.  I think the point was made, and this tech now understood how things are done on the trading floor. You cannot take this casual, relaxed attitude that you take with the other areas of the firm, it just won’t fly.

Case in point, one day it was nearly 8:30PM and I was still at the office trying to get some pending items resolved. Mind you, I started at 6:30AM! Slacking off in that environment doesn’t fly, and sometimes a point needs to be driven home to the new blood in a passive aggressive manner. Such as an email or a whisper to someone higher on their team.

Bottom line, we are all on the same team, you should learn from the seasoned techs and not try to make their lives difficult. It is always better to make allies than enemies in a team environment.

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Angel is a blogger with appearances on The National Geographic Channel, MTV, HLN, FOX 5, HOT 97 FM, NY1, Bronxnet and many popular online sites. He is a U.S Air Force Veteran, Political Columnist, Musician, MMA Fighter, Foodie, and the Host of The Hidden Report Talk Show. Follow Angel on twitter and most social media via @AngelRdotMe