You are sitting at your desk and you just completed watching a video. The video was work related, but that is hard to tell right now because the last frame of the video (which is frozen on your screen) shows an animated character.
Someone walks by, looks at your screen and then looks at you and says, “Working hard or hardly working?”
Your reaction to their words just might be heavily influenced by whom it is. If it is a peer or a friend, you are probably nonchalant in your reply. You might simply laugh, you might ignore them or you might say, “Hey, I was watching a training video, on my lunch because I am not a slacker like YOU.” The exchange is all in good fun.
Suppose it is your boss who said to you, “Working hard or hardly working?” If you do not have a casual, joking around type of relationship her words just might come across as harsh.
You know that you were watching a training video from a reputable source, provided by your corporate training department and even though it was work related, you watched it during your lunch hour. Will she believe you if you tell her?
Will she even hear you as she keeps walking by? How could she think that you are hardly working, doesn’t she appreciate all of your overtime?
Most likely you are overreacting. She might actually have been kidding. And you do have responsibility for your own reaction to her words. In turn, she would be wise to remember that when you are the person in charge, your words and your actions take on a different meaning.
Whether it is right or wrong or fair or unfair when you are in charge, if you walk by a team member without saying “Good morning” they just might think that you are angry or that you do not respect them. When you joke with someone be mindful that your jokes will be remembered and considered later. When you chastise someone know that you do not need to go overboard, your power and position and authority give your words enough strength. Conversely, a sincere thank you and congratulations for a job well done will also carry some weight.
Use your power wisely. Use your power kindly.