Q. I am upset with my supervisor because she recently corrected me in front of my coworkers. Instead of giving me feedback in private, she publicly blamed me for making some errors in a report.
While I accept responsibility for these mistakes, I believe it was disrespectful to point them out in a meeting. This is not the first time my supervisor has done this. How can I talk to her about treating me with more respect?
A. Reprimanding the boss is never a good idea, so don’t accuse your supervisor of being disrespectful. That will only start an argument that you cannot win. Instead, try using “I-statements” to help her understand how you felt in this situation, then politely request a different approach in the future.
For example: “I have a favor to ask. Last week, when we discussed my errors during the staff meeting, I felt very embarrassed. Although I understand your concerns, I would appreciate it if we could talk about any future problems in private. Would that be OK with you?”
Most managers understand that public criticism is inappropriate, so your supervisor should agree to this request. Going forward, if she should happen to slip up and repeat her error, just listen to the feedback, then ask if you could discuss the matter in her office.
On the other hand, if your boss defends the practice of admonishing people in front of their peers, then she either missed Management 101 or is poorly suited for her position. Managers who believe in public reprimands tend to have a punitive leadership style and a high rate of turnover.
Q. One of my coworkers is constantly goofing off, but my manager won’t do anything about it. While the rest of us are working, “Emily” just does whatever she pleases. I have gone to my boss several times about this, but he refuses to address the issue. He just keeps saying that we all need to get along. How should I handle this situation?
A. If Emily’s laziness is making your own job more difficult, then that’s what you should discuss with your manager. For example: “My monthly report is often late because I never get updates from Emily until after the deadline. I’ve explained this to her, but that hasn’t solved the problem. Could you talk with her about this?”
But if you are simply irritated by her slacker ways, then you might as well just let that go. You aren’t Emily’s boss, and the person who is her boss doesn’t seem to care. While your annoyance is understandable, getting all worked up about her slothfulness will only increase your stress level.
Finally, if you have “gone to your manager several times,” I can almost guarantee that he is now tired of hearing these complaints. If you continue to repeat them, he might eventually decide that you are the problem. This may not seem fair, but it could easily happen.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”