The Rest of the Press (also known as the Press blog) is debuting a new feature this week. We’ll be running an advice column, Second Opinion, on the blog, hopefully each Wednesday. Topics will range from typical advice column fare like relationship and work-place drama to more practical stuff like how to get dog vomit out of a wool rug.
Second Opinion is written by Daniella Cortez, the entertainment editor and a writer for the Anchorage Press, and Colleen Bailey, who works full time as a data compliance specialist and moonlights as a writer and staple in the Friday Night Diva’s Variety Show at Mad Myrna’s. Collectively they have worked in coffee shops, bars, social service agencies, radio stations and entirely too many customer service positions. Not that this at all makes us experts but after close to 30 years apiece of being some of the most awkward kids in the room, we’ve sort of perfected the art of the faux pas and how to navigate out of them.
Questions can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to use an alias if you wish to keep your identity confidential or to protect the innocent. Questions that are disrespectful or intolerant will not be answered. Not every questions can or will be answered each week but we will keep all the questions and may use them in the future. Sometimes we might edit your question for length.
Our first question comes to us from behind the bar at our favorite watering hole.
How do you confront a difficult situation with a co-worker when they’re screwing you over, when those co-workers also happen to be your closest friends? They’re taking advantage of my kindness.
Colleen: That’s an excellent question because that happens a lot. In all relationships, be it professional or personal, there has to be a certain level of respect. There has to be an understanding that you can’t always rely on people to do what you want them to do.
Daniella: You know what the great Wil Wheaton says? “Don’t be a dick.”
CB: Being a dick is a big problem in this town.
The problem is that people don’t often know when they’re being dicks. So it’s easy to assume that someone will be there for you when in fact they are under no obligation. It’s a balance of friendship, expectations of friendship and just being a dick.
DCA: So you’d want to gently remind the person to stop being a dick. How I would go about it is like this: pose a question to the offending party and ask them how they would solve the issue if it were happening to them. “I feel like I’m being taken advantage of by someone at work who is also my friend, how would you deal with this situation?”
CB: The important thing is to be upfront and honest. If you’re best friends with someone, and I’m talking about capital B, capital F friends, you should be able to confront them about things that are pissing you off. So even though they are also your co-worker, if they are taking advantage of you, you should be able to man/lady up and let them know that you’re more than willing to step in and be there for them but that you need a heads up, not just a blanket expectation that you will do whatever they want, when they want.
If your relationship is not at that point than maybe you need to re-evaluate your friendship status.
DCA: I say, anonymous tip to the human resources department.
CB: Except when there isn’t an HR department and you work in a bar.
DCA: Well sometimes “human resources” is the loud mouth at the end of the bar. Sometimes you just gotta drop hints to the right people. Like “Hey, remember that time Colleen was an asshole to me? You should mention that to her.”
CB: But for real, find a way to be polite but honest. Honest really is the best policy. You may have to take some time to find a way to say it that protects delicate egos and feelings, if you don’t make yourself heard and voice your concerns as they happen, you’ll continue to get walked on.
DCA: Festering is the worst. Don’t let things fester, just sit them down and say “Hey bro, I love you, but don’t be a dick.”