Dear J.T. & Dale: Our office is “allergy sensitive.” Someone has a severe peanut allergy so we can’t bring in any products that have peanuts. The person who has the allergy and I don’t get along very well. He is extremely dramatic and causes a lot of arguments in the office. I don’t play into his games and he knows it. Recently, I brought in some leftover Chinese food for lunch. I totally spaced that it had peanut sauce. He caught sight/smell of it and went crazy. He left the building and texted my boss saying I was trying to kill him. My boss called me into his office and told me I was on performance warning. I explained it was an accident, but he said that my attitude toward this guy has been negative and that he wasn’t sure it was an accident. I was so mad I wanted to quit. What can I do to keep my self-respect and work this out? – Violet
DALE: “Totally spaced” on the peanut sauce, eh? I think you’ve created the Chinese takeout version of a Freudian slip. You’ll remember that our old pal Sigmund Freud suggested that what seems to be an accident might just be the playing out of an internal wish. So, I’m thinking your boss had a point and thus, there’s no need for you to stay mad. Let that go. Instead, this is a chance to work at getting along with a difficult person, a critical life skill. Embrace the challenge.
J.T.: I would set a meeting with your boss and the co-worker to see if you can clear the air and work on setting boundaries for the two of you working together. Also, if you two were my employees, I would actually put you on a key assignment together and say, “Make it work until you have mutual respect for one another.” The key is to realize you don’t have to like someone, you just have to find something about their work style that you respect and can leverage with your own skills to create good work. When we learn to find the good in someone so we can collaborate, we empower ourselves to advance our careers.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I wanted to move back to the state where I went to school because all my friends are there. I got an interview for a job there. I didn’t get it, but they called me shortly after with a different position. I jumped at the chance to move, but I’m three months in now and it’s not working out. The job isn’t what I thought and recently my boss told me he isn’t happy with my performance. I really want the job that I first applied for, but the gal who got that job is crushing it. What should I do? – Steven
J.T.: I would sit down with your boss and be honest. Ask if he sees any way you could work toward migrating into a role that’s a better match. If not, then start looking for a new job ASAP. There’s no point in staying there if you can’t build the career you want, and it’s likely they may let you go due to lack of performance. These things happen! Trying to stick it out will only hurt your career. It’s time to find that next opportunity and make it a better fit. The good news is, now you are local so finding a new job should be easier!
DALE: I agree that you must immediately initiate a massive job search. Meanwhile, do not get fired! That’ll just make the job search tougher, and you might end up desperate and willing to compromise. Instead of pining for that other job at the company, sit down with your boss and create a list of five improvements to work on. Also, ask your boss if you can check back every week or two and see how you’re doing. This will buy you months of time for a better job to appear, internally or somewhere new.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.