Office drama quiz: Which role do you play?

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a. Office Diva

You know you're a star and want to make sure everyone else knows it too. From dressing the part to networking with the higher-ups, you've got it covered. You spell "team" with "me," and enjoy the status it conveys.

To get anywhere in the working world, though, you have to learn to work with everyone and be gracious in sharing the accolades. It wouldn't hurt to be more of a team player. Rather than hogging the spotlight and taking the credit every time, it would help you to acknowledge others. You'll wonder why you clung so long to the lonely top position.

Some steps to take:

  • Start small. Try to start your sentences with "we" and "our," instead of only "I" and "my."
  • Don't judge your colleagues by their job titles, and remember your entry-level days.
  • Compliment others on jobs well done, do some favours for others, and you'll see that good will is often reciprocated.

b. Clever and under-the-radar

You know work is a serious responsibility, but you also know when to let loose and have fun. When conflicts arise, you know the best way to deal with them is to communicate with the right person. Dressed professionally, you know when to take credit gracefully and when to bask in shared glory.

Because you're doing so well, you can make your working environment even more pleasant by being a peacemaker. By managing the office divas, appeasing the passive-aggressive mamas, and defending the cubicle doormats, you will make everyone's jobs easier and make higher-ups notice your productive presence.

Some steps to take:

  • Budget your time and do the hardest tasks first, when your energy level is higher.
  • Bow out of meetings where your input is optional.
  • Don't use "reply all" for e-mails if there is no need to copy everyone; this cuts down on e-mail clutter.

c. The team doormat

You'll always be stuck where you are if you don't assert yourself. You are afraid of antagonizing others, so you don't speak up when you feel taken advantage of. Remember that being nice doesn't equal being a pushover. You have the potential to be a star; you just need to step into the spotlight.

If you tolerate the way you're treated, everyone will continue with their old ways. But if you learn to say "no" selectively, over time people will stop seeing you as just someone they can use indiscriminately.

Some steps to take:

  • Talk to your boss about taking on more responsibilities.
  • Speak up at meetings. Even if your idea isn't the best one, at least let yourself be heard.
  • Seek a role model and imagine her in your place when you have difficulty making a decision.

d. Passive-Aggressive player

You often feel you're the most valuable player at work, and you enjoy playing the martyr a bit too much. To make sure others see your sacrifice, you often complain to everyone and anyone you see, and paint yourself as a noble victim.

Instead of letting all the resentment stew inside, it's healthier and more effective to talk about your feelings and work out your problems. Don't take your frustrations out by failing to do work as well as you can; it will only hurt your image and possibility of advancement.

Some steps to take:

  • The next time you offer to stay late to finish a project, ask others to pitch in.
  • Learn to remind co-workers to keep up with their deadlines early on so you aren't always the one working last-minute.
  • Say "no" to frequent requests for help if you feel you're being taken advantage of.
  • Try delegating tasks and saving your hands-on time for important projects.

Source: Ladies Home Journal, By Yuzhi Yang

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