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Our criminal justice system is dual sided  – comprised of prosecution and defense, to ensure that each party gets equal shrift. Due process mandates evidence is presented on both sides.

I’m surprised at how frequently this system is circumvented within firms. Unfortunately, it’s the squeaky wheels that bosses hear most often.

If only some people are speaking, you may end up with two groups: squeaky wheels, and those too honorable to snitch on their peers. It’s sad that workers act as informants to boost their sagging self-image. If volume, duration, and frequency are your benchmarks, then the most boisterous will carry the day. They are effective at playing victim, a behavior that feeds their agenda to appear self-important. These are people who push when perceive no pushback, and who direct their energy at those they perceive as pushovers.

How not to fall prey to the crafty? Before you go off halfcocked, do some investigating.

  1. Delve deeper than surface complaining – that way your conclusions won’t be so one sided. Snitches are people who feel it’s their business to go behind the scenes and stir the pot. If the squeaky wheel does all the talking, you’re only getting one side of the story. Advise complaining employees to conduct themselves in a more professional fashion.
  2. Solicit information from the accused – the other party will be appreciative. On a related note, speak to people other than squeaky wheels. You might be surprised at what you find.
  3. Be sure to get both sides of the story – this is especially important when you have introverts pitted against extroverts.
  4. Before you run with another’s version of events, verify its veracity. Every tale has two sides.
  5. Mutuality is porous. Create an atmosphere of camaraderie by informally chatting with workers on a semi-frequent basis. That way, you’ll appear less gullible. In Treat me like a customer, Upkins suggests you would never do the following at work: 
  • Begin sentences with “You never” or “You always”
  • Blame others when you’re criticized
  • Rehash past offenses
  • Use sarcasm
  • Pout

    Respect is about giving people a fair shake, and ensuring that all sides are heard. Be sure to give others their due.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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