CONSULTATION: When Colleagues Attack

I have colleague who bad-mouths me in the office. I don’t want to make big fuss and get our boss involved so how can I stop her?

Hmm not nice. When this happens it undermines you, but also the other person loses respect, not only from you, but others.
To handle this well, first be honest with yourself and look at what your colleague is saying and why. Is it because you are actually doing something to annoy her? If so change your behaviour.
The situation is still frustrating as your colleague is not taking responsibility and dealing with the issue by talking directly with you, but you can take responsibility for your own actions and sort it out.
However, if it is not something you are doing or it is something that you have right to do then that is different situation and unfair.
In this case you need the other person to change their behaviour. You should explain to them what is happening, how you feel about it, and what you want to happen.
You can use process called “DESC” script to resolve this.
The “D” stands for “Describe”. That is you first need to clearly describe what is happening to the other person. For example, “Three people in the office have told me that you have some concerns about me.”
The “E’ stands for “Express”. The idea here is to then tell the other person clearly how you feel about this. For example, sad, angry, frustrated, upset etc. In this case you might say, “I am feeling unhappy about this.”
The “S” stands for “Specify”. Explain to the other person what it is that you want to happen. For example, “I would like you to talk to me directly if you have problem and not talk to others.”
Finally the “C” stands for “Consequences”. This finishes your DESC script by outlining to the other person what the expected pay-off will be if they do what you are asking them to do. For example, “If you do this I am sure we will be able to sort it out and move on.”
With some careful preparation DESC script can really help with difficult situations between people. It puts you in the driving seat rather than being the passenger. It will reduce your stress levels and is firm but treats the other person with respect by communicating clearly to them.
Try it. The more you use it the easier it will get.



My partner and I are planning to start family next year and we have realised we need to plan carefully for this as we are both working and have mortgage. I have found it quite challenging to work out what leave entitlements we both have in this situation. Can you advise please? Also, am I entitled to pay while on leave?

A The rules on this are covered by the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.
On first sight it can all seem rather daunting but it basically breaks down as follows. At the top end we are talking about parental leave which is made up of maternity leave, partner/paternity leave, and extended leave.
Each type of leave is applicable to birth or an adoption and is unpaid. Maternity leave is 14 weeks of continuous leave and starts up to six weeks before the expected event.
It can start earlier in certain situations at the request of doctor or employer. This would generally be for health and safety reasons.
Special leave is also available to mother of up to 10 days for reasons connected with pregnancy eg, doctor’s visits.
Partner/paternity leave is available to the mother’s partner and consists of one week if the partner has been employed for six months with their employer and two weeks if they have completed year. This can be taken in the period from 21 days before the expected event up to 21 days after.
The final component of parental leave is extended leave. This is up to 52 weeks provided the employee has been employed for 12 months. It is less any maternity leave taken and is available in the 12 months following the birth or adoption.
It can be shared by both parents but must be taken in one continuous period by either person. That is they can’t chop and change.
Within reason an employer can decline this leave if the role is key and it would be difficult to operate the business effectively with an interim hire.
Paid parental leave is also available and depending on eligibility can be up to 14 weeks. It is available to either parent if child is adopted. You apply to the Inland Revenue for this.
Have look at the Department of Labour website and I am sure it will help you further.

Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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