1. My co-workers are constantly gossiping. It's often hard to find someone who isn't talking about someone else at work, but resist the urge to dish. It only feeds the fire and encourages co-workers who should be getting their tasks done to keep talking nasty or spreading rumors.
Gossiping doesn't set a positive precedent for building trust with the people you work with. After all, how can you be sure you won't be the next target of idle chatter? The next time a colleague tries to pull you into the conversation, be polite but firm: you have work to get done. It might not win you any friends, but after all, the workplace isn't always the best place to make friends.
2. My boss tried to friend me on Facebook. Some people have no issue "friending" work colleagues. But if you hesitate at the idea, it's fine. The best thing you can do is separate work and your personal life. Giving your boss, or anyone else at work, access to your Facebook feed can make for an uncomfortable situation, and it's one you don't have to accept.
Simply create a policy for yourself that you will not friend anyone from work, and stick to it. If you decline one invitation and accept another, you may cause hurt feelings. Better to enforce your policy across the board and avoid further issue.
3. My co-worker always violates the dress code. Whether it's a too-short skirt, open-toed shoes, or jeans when it's not casual Friday, a dress code violation can be annoying—and unfair—to others who abide by the policy. If you're tired of seeing disco wear or clothes better suited for your teenage daughter, speak to your human resources (HR) manager or superior and ask them to address the situation. Many people don't feel like a dress code is a "real" rule, so they may just need some nudging to follow it. When everyone plays by the rules, it makes for a more pleasant work environment.
On the other hand, if multiple people are violating the policy, maybe it's time for the company to relinquish an outdated dress code. Then you can enjoy the more relaxed rules too once HR decides to let employees be more casual.
4. My boss always takes credit for my ideas. If you're not the outspoken type, it may be hard for you to stand up and claim the ideas that are coming out of your boss's mouth when you actually gave birth to them. A good boss will give you credit and happily shine the spotlight on you. Others simply want to seem like they're the brains on your team.
Tell her that while you work to do everything you can to support her and the team, it is important that others recognize you for your work and creativity. It's always best to deal directly with your boss. It could be a simple misunderstanding and turn into more of an issue if you assume otherwise. If this is a situation that occurs consistently, then you'll have to evaluate if it's worth going over her head. It's probably happening with many employees' ideas, not just yours, and will be discovered. Keep track of those ideas she's been taking credit for so if the time comes you have some documentation to back it up.
Every sticky situation is different, but the more diplomatic you are in handling one, the easier it will be to work with your colleagues. And that's what we want, isn't it—to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the people we work with?
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.