Consider the following scenarios:
Your friend Madeline invites you out for a drink. You take her up on her offer because who doesn’t love a good happy hour? You walk into the bar or restaurant of choice and SURPRISE! Madeline, along with your other friends, decided to throw you a birthday party.
You walk into the office as per usual, go to your desk and start working. Suddenly you receive notification for an impromptu meeting. Mere moments before the rest of the office is informed, you are told that your partner will be leaving for another opportunity – SURPRISE!
While one would be caught off guard in either situation, in scenario #2 you were suddenly thrown off your game at work and given little to no time to process the news.
In short this is what happened to Kelly Ripa this past week when she learned that her “Live” co-host, Michael Strahan, would be leaving the show for a full-time position with Good Morning America. While this example is currently taking place in the national spotlight, employees get blindsided at work every day.
In handling the situation, Ripa took a few days off of work to collect her thoughts and create a plan of action. Critics flocked to media channels critiquing her actions in ways only a woman would be, saying she was unprofessional and emotional for staging a multi-day sickout.
In a monologue, she spoke to her viewers reflecting on the brief hiatus.
“What transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and most important respect in the workplace.”
Every working person can relate to what it feels like to be blindsided in the workplace, but why is it that women are more harshly judged for their reactions? What is the proper protocol to follow if and when you are blindsided at work?
- Fight Your Initial Instincts
Avoid making rash judgement calls and statements by taking a step back from the situation to reflect. You want to fight the instinct to react emotionally, and instead strategize to ensure all of your ducks are in a row.
Be wary of who you speak to and what you say especially at times like this when people are bound to stir the pot. In the heat of the moment, you may find it easy to badmouth your employer or colleague that you feel betrayed you. You may continue to work with this individual during your tenure with your company or you could cross paths down the line.
The extra time will let you think about the events that transpired more carefully. Were the actions done maliciously? How could communication have been more effective? Once you come to a conclusion you will be able to move forward.
- Create a Forward-Looking Plan
Have a conversation with your manager or boss on how to avoid another incident. To do this you could walk through the situation and brainstorm what could have been done differently. Explain how caught off guard you were and discuss the topic of mutual respect and professional courtesy.
You may want to set up a regular meeting. This would give you an opportunity to check-in on a regular basis on your work, status with the company and will give you an opportunity to discuss any other possible opportunities or changes.
- Expand Your Reach
Cultivating and developing your network is never a bad idea. You could meet somebody who would be an asset to your firm or you could hear about an incredible opportunity. By expanding your reach you have others to lean on for support or to act as a sounding board should you find yourself in this position again.