March 16, 2016

Outside The Box Advice: Adversity in the Office

By: Serge Thomas



There are times in your career when you’ll make a mistake, and the response to that mistake will be disproportionate to the offense. How you handle this can be the difference between keeping and losing a job. Consider this example from a friend of mine. My friend ran an important department alone for an entire week, while the department head was on vacation. During this time, he had decisions to make, reports to oversee, and an overall large workload; so he worked as efficiently as possible. One day, as he read a certain spreadsheet he came across a expense discrepancy. Little did he know, this expense was a sensitive issue – something not to be shared with others. Unknown to the acting department head, the company that made the buy contacted his managers.

This ‘contact’ however, was completely inappropriate. It contained vulgar language and even physical threats against to the individual responsible. Understandably, senior management was furious, so they forwarded it on to the Human Resources department.

Of course, if you ever make a mistake it is important to acknowledge it, and do your best to not repeat it. However, if you catch somebody else’s mistake, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Sending angry or threatening emails is NEVER okay in the workplace – no matter how justified you think you are. Why not?

Your digital footprint is always bigger than you think. When you send an email, you can’t know who might read it, what they’ll think, or what they’ll do in return. Making threats is not only immoral, but in DC you could be charged with the crime of cyberbullying. (

No one should ever feel threatened, or belittled on the job. Moreover, you should never engage in this practice. Lots of jobs in the political world are administrative, and small mistakes can leave your co-workers or your organization open to scrutiny. Far too often, mid-level and executive staffers think that they can assert their authority through written or even verbal threats. If you’re on the receiving end of workplace abuse, find another position. We spend the majority of our time at work, so it’s important that you feel safe at the very least.

Regardless of whether you make a mistake or suffer the consequences of another’s error, it’s important to keep a cool head at all times. Weather the storms of controversy. Stick to your guns. Take responsibility. Your career depends on it!