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The workplace is one place you can't be naive

Career Tips By Tania Ngima

ALSO READ: How to take control of your career

When a situation makes you uncomfortable at work, how do you handle it? Say you’re in a departmental meeting and something does not make sense to you so you ask for an explanation.

Someone else on your team downplays your concern or mocks you for not understanding the ‘dynamics’ of the situation. For most women, being embarrassed or mocked in a way that makes us come off as less capable is the sure-fire way to shut us up.

Accepting for your concerns or questions to be brushed under the carpet to allow other people to save face or because we do not want to be perceived as pushy or labelled in negative terms is a recipe for disaster and a display of naivete.

How we manage unclear and difficult situations at work has an effect on the extent to which we will be perceived as leadership material.

The reverse of being naïve by trusting people’s perceived intentions to much is being too suspicious and paranoid of our colleagues. Do not assume the worst if a colleague does something that makes you suspicious, but do confront the scenario in a direct way and allow the other person to explain.

Because our instincts are usually honed, this direct approach will give you an inkling into whether there is an underlying problem that you should investigate further.

When making major decisions, take the time to consult with people whose counsel you trust and who have nothing to gain from whichever decision you make.

ALSO READ: What to do when motherhood and ambition feel like a catch-22

In the workplace, avoid being naïve by relying on just one person’s views or expertise, even if this is the one person whose advice you have come to rely on.

Instead of allowing your questions to be brushed aside, ensure that when you need an explanation you get what it is you need to get all your concerns and questions addressed.

Research shows that when significant business failures occur, there is usually at least one person at the table who has reservations but in the face of overwhelming support, feels too intimidated to raise or push their concerns.

- Listen to and trust your instincts while also being fair to your colleagues. Identify exactly why a particular situation feels uncomfortable - does it bring up discomfort from your past or is there a nagging aspect that is bugging you.
- Get used to probing the veracity of the 'facts' that people present to us in the workspace

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