Work-Related Issue

Written at work at 12.30 – 1.30pm.

I’m trying to stay cool, calm and collected at work today.

There’s only a half dozen of my team in today, and we’re just starting a week or more of being allocated to Inbound Calls. This can mean one of two things: long, dull periods when the phone doesn’t ring and the lack of anything to engage my brain either results in posts for this blog or sitting there in dull inertia for periods of time far longer than the clock contains, or being sent ‘overflow’ calls, which can be about pretty near everything under the sun, except my area of expertise. Deep joy.

But I’m aiming for coolness, calmness and collectedness because of what happened yesterday with another member of my team (who, at this very instant is laughing shrilly and making silly remarks at a decibel level far higher than that necessary to communicate with his customer).

I have been a professional for over thirty-eight years, during which time I’ve worked with, and for, several people I didn’t like. I’ve learned to maintain a professional calm, a laidbackness that concentrates upon the needs of the job rather than the desire to bash someone’s head in with the business end of a shovel. I’m having problems with this individual, however.

Most of the team thinks he’s a knobhead, for the same reasons I do, He’s loud, self-centred, argumentative and incapable of understanding anything outside his own viewpoint. He’s always talking and his voice is always loud. He always thinks he knows best.

The other week, we clashed. There was a team meeting to enable the Company to re-advise people about Data Protection, at which our standards are slipping, it seems. When we phone customers, to be Compliant, there is a specific set of words that we have to say to them, word for word. My colleague started arguing. As far as he was concerned, the specific words were wrong, and unnatural, and he wanted to say them his way, which consisted of the same words, but with the two clauses reversed. He kept arguing this, for ages, demanding to know what was different about the two phrases.

As words go, they meant exactly the same thing, except that there was one vital distinction between the two versions that he seemed completely incapable of understanding: one was Compliant, the other wasn’t. In the end, sick of the meeting going over and over something completely irrelevant – no-one in that room had access to anyone remotely able to affect the wording – I ended up loudly stating that very difference I’ve just explained. It got commented on.

So, we jump to yesterday. When we are not taking incoming calls, my team works existing cases where review or callbacks have been booked to take place in specific hour-long slots. When things are quiet, we look at cases due later, when the calls usually accumulate, in the evening, and see if we can deal with these ahead of time, ease the pressure and avoid letting our customers down by not contacting them as promised.

There’s also a professional obligation on us not to ‘cherry-pick’ cases. You pull a case, you work it. You don’t dump it back for someone else to do, and if you can’t get hold of the customer, you don’t dump it back in the queue just a few hours later for someone else to pick up.

I don’t do that. If a customer needs a same day callback, I keep the case in my personal pot and I call them back.

Except that yesterday evening, between 6.00 – 7.00pm, my colleague thought he’d caught me out. We were sat at opposite ends of our bay (can you work out why?) and he called across the rest of the team, plus our manager, to tell me I’d worked a case earlier and then dumped it back into the pot, same day.

I knew I’d done no such thing, and I called back to say I hadn’t. At worst, I’d pulled a case early, tried to contact the customer, then left the original callback booking in place. He replied, still shouting this out loud, so that no only our team but the other teams that work on our floor, could hear that I’d disgraced our professional standards, that I’d left my notes at 5.45.

There was just one problem with this, as I pointed out to my manager shortly afterwards: at 5.45 I was on my lunch and sitting in the break-out area, logged out of all our systems.

Indeed, when I checked my system, I hadn’t been in the case at all that day. I walked over to my colleague, and quietly spoke to him. he tried to fob me off, saying it was all resolved now, but quietly, so that no-one else would hear, I told him that if he ever had an issue with me again, he would come over and speak to me, ‘not shout it across the fucking floor’.

And, do you know what? I had left a note on that case at 5.45. The previous day, Wednesday. I’m sure his muttered fob off was made in the knowledge that he’d realised that, knew he’d fucked himself up in his eagerness to get a snotty little point over me, but lacked either the guts or decency to apologise.

So today, I intend to blank his existence. I am not reciting my grievance against him: those who weren’t there yesterday evening are not going to hear about of from me, though I’ve already put my manager on notice that if he ever shouts allegations like that across a crowded floor, I’m making an official complaint. I’m going to stay calm, cool, collected. I will not react, I will not explode, not even quietly.

And I’ll PS when I get home to confirm if it worked.


I mostly managed to keep my mouth shut. There were no exchanges with my colleague, and I only raised the subject with two team-mates with whom I have good relations neither of whom were there yesterday.

Thank you for listening.

2 thoughts on “Work-Related Issue

  1. Dealing with random IT calls I could do when I was younger but not as I got older! I don’t envy you with your job. I guess you aren’t expecting your colleague will read your blog….

    Thanks for an interesting and varied blog. [FYI Several of the links in your blogroll are broken]

  2. The job could be worse. You’re right, he’s not going to read it but if he did, where do I identify him or where we work? The only people who could identify him are those who already know him.

    I’m glad you enjoy the range. Thanks for the heads up about the blogroll, I know the wainwright Panoramas disappeared ages ago but the site-owner said she was going to try to resurrect them. I loved that site and I really miss it. I’ve a week’s holiday coming up in August so I’ll clean it up then if not before.

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