5 Common Workplace Dilemmas

Dilemmas are like being between a rock and a hard place- many times you have to make a choice that is difficult or undesirable. When it comes to the workplace, there are five common dilemmas that people face each day. You know you really shouldn’t waste company time for personal reasons, but you just can’t stay away from Facebook. Or maybe you are being sucked into participating in office gossip and you know you should get back to work, but the drama is just too good to pass up. Another common workplace dilemma is lying to your colleagues for good reasons. For example,  you might have a scheming boss who is asking you to do something unethical that would cross boundary lines you don’t want to cross over. Or your dilemma could even be about something more personal like deciding whether or not to take revenge on an annoying coworker.

Whatever your dilemma, you can rest assured that many other people have struggled with how to handle the same type of situation. Consider some of the following scenarios while figuring out how to maneuver through your own rock and a hard place.

1. Using Company Time for Personal Reasons

Ok, so no one is perfect. Sometimes you have a big decision to make when it comes to using company time for personal reasons or actually getting back to work. However, sometimes the temptation can be too overpowering and you begin to surf the Internet with the pretense of researching data for a company report. Yet, quickly you start losing focus on your job and start checking out the celebrity news reports on Yahoo or checking out when the next showing is of that new movie you and your friends wanted to go see. It’s so easy to fall in to the trap of cheating your employer out of every second that he is paying you to work. Of course you could be a big loser and slack off all day long at the job and it’s a wonder that you haven’t gotten fired yet.

Most likely, you’re just a nice guy or girl who is working hard each day—but faces that dilemma when it’s so easy to take a longer lunch because you saw an old friend at the coffee shop and wanted to catch up. Maybe you forgot to make that doctor’s appointment while you were on break and end up being on hold with the medical office for half hour when you really should be working. You might not be able to stop writing that chapter in your romance novel that you’ve been working on during lunch break. A few more minutes typing that steamy love scene at your desk won’t hurt, right? Not to mention the dilemma of trying to plan your wedding or that summer vacation, while working full-time. Using your work computer and Internet access for such things seems like a simple answer, but it can be a difficult decision to make when you’re trying to be a good employee.  

2. Participating in Office Drama & Gossip

We all love to witness an office brawl, sexy cat fight or hear delicious details of a scandalous workplace affair. However, spending too much time at the water cooler, running to the break room or emailing your colleagues—just to participate in the drama or get that next juicy detail from the gossip mill—is another common workplace dilemma. Sure, your job may be so boring that you thrive on any kind of workplace drama or titillating rumors about your colleagues. Yet, don’t you also have a responsibility to spend your time in the office actually completing your tasks? Hopefully, you answer yes to that question; then close your eyes and cover your ears while forcing yourself to escape the drama.

Just make sure you open your eyes before running in to a nearby cubicle or colleague carrying a coffee cup and becoming the next topic for all the office gossips! So the next time your colleague is sending you rapid fire IM’s on your company account, sign off and stop paying attention to the gossip, even if you really want to hear more details about what your boss did that weekend. Don’t spend too much time congregating with colleagues in the break room when you’re supposed to be getting your coffee and heading back to your desk like a dutiful employee. Sure, one or two offenses a week doesn’t make you a negligent employee. Just don’t make it a habit to feed off the drama and gossip.

3. Lying to Your Colleagues for Good Reasons

Another common workplace dilemma is lying to your colleagues for good reasons. You know, when your colleague comes to work with a smile on her face and a spring in her step all because she splurged over the weekend and got a makeover. You stare at her as she walks down the hall to her desk near you. It’s difficult not to let your astonishment show over her new hair style, caked on makeup and flamboyant attire as you keep that pasted on smile glued to your face. Hopefully your eyebrows stay in place and don’t rise up to your forehead as you mumble a white lie. Sure, she looks stunning and yes, you’d love to know where she went for the makeover. Not really, but what else should you say. It’s not like you can start her day off miserably, by telling her what you really think. You don’t want to lie, but you can’t tell her the brutal, honest truth either.

Maybe your boss calls you in to his office with a brilliant idea to have you work on a new project with a colleague that you really can’t stand. However, you think the idea is anything but brilliant and you are already getting nauseated about having to work with that annoying colleague who will probably follow you around like a puppy dog all day. This dilemma can cause you stress. Should you tell your boss how you really feel? Maybe you should simply smile and agree because you’ve been trying to stay on his radar for that elusive promotion you’ve been chasing.

4. Dealing with a Bad Boss or Manager

Having a conniving boss who likes to manipulate people and situations for his own benefit can present another common workplace dilemma for many people. Such a devious boss may ask you to do some things that are unethical or make you feel unsettled about completing such directives. Maybe your boss may call you in to his office and ask you to lie to a client about the hours worked on a project which doesn’t match up with the amount of money being charged to the account. This is a major dilemma. Should you accept your boss’s directive and falsify information while lying to your client?

If you can’t stomach such deception, would it pay to stand up for your ethical standards even if it meant stirring up your boss’s wrath and losing your job? There are no wrong answers; it all depends on how you feel.

5. Taking Revenge on Annoying Coworkers

You may be contemplating taking revenge on an annoying coworker by concocting a devious mind game or conjuring a sweet retaliation plan where you cause this person to be embarrassed in front of the entire office. So, before you decide to lean toward causing the maximum amount of destruction by humiliating your annoying coworker at the next team meeting, consider whether or not that’s the best way to handle this dilemma. Maybe you need to accept that this annoying coworker is not going to go away and you need to deal with her behavior in a mature way, where you just simply ignore it.

However, if you have weighed all the options and decide that taking revenge is the best way to go, make sure you have boundaries in place. The last thing you need to do is go all Emily Thorne on your very own Victoria Grayson and start using the red sharpie to make a big red X on the annoying coworker’s photo that has become a dart board in your office. Dilemmas involving revenge schemes can take on a life of their own if you get too crazy with ways to torture this person and get your payback. Workplace revenge plans shouldn’t make you so obsessed with this annoying coworker—that you can’t complete your work, you get to the office late because you’re too busy scheming and you embarrass yourself in team meetings because you can’t pay attention and look dazed and confused when called upon by your boss.

Workplace dilemmas are common to everyone and all types of work environments. Making right choices can be difficult, but are necessary to ensure that you effectively maneuver out of those rock and hard place situations. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and abuse your employer’s leniency. Getting too caught up in office drama and gossip will only serve to bring you near to tears or too much distraction to ever get any work done. Make sure your reasons are good for telling those white lies to coworkers. Know your own ethical boundaries and that will help you handle dilemmas with bad bosses. And finally, when deciding whether or not to take revenge on an annoying coworker, consider all the consequences first.

Have you ever had to deal with any of these common workplace dilemmas? How did you handle the situation and did you make a choice that you could live with? Let us know in the comments section below.