Storm the…Cubicle!

executive cubicle leadership training skills at workThe other day, a woman invaded my castle.  Crossed the moat, scaled the walls, charged the turrets. In other words, she came into my cubicle without asking.

Now, I’m an executive assistant in a fairly large company, and because of my role, I’m in an open area near my boss’s office. I have an “office” but it is bordered by a counter, not walls. That said, everyone is always very respectful, and pretends as though I have a door. Except for Melinda.

Her most recent transgression was the most obnoxious yet. She came into my space to get a binder and didn’t even acknowledge me. She then stood behind me, reading, not realizing that I had sensitive data on my computer screen. So I decided it was time to take action.

I thought about going to her manager and complaining, and letting her handle it for me. Or telling my boss, so he could tell her boss. Both scenarios would mean that I wouldn’t have to confront her (yay!) and that most likely her behavior would change. But that also meant that I would run the risk of alienating her, causing a rift in the team, and bringing managers in for an issue that for them, might be trivial (and might demonstrate to them that I was unable to handle confrontation).
So I bit the bullet. Her behavior not only ticked me off, it put my boss’s sensitive documents at risk. It was time to let her know that a woman’s cubicle is her castle.

The next day when she came up, I broached the topic by asking if I could talk to her about something. When she said yes, I said, “The other day you needed a binder that was in my cubicle, and I don’t know if you noticed because you were so focused, but you came in behind me and stood there for a bit. When you did that, I felt a little defensive because I had some sensitive data on my computer screen.  I know that my workspace is a little more wide open than most, but if you could ask me next time for the binder I’d be happy to get it for you.”

So in that jumbled bit of info, I buried an I-Message…namely, when you did X, it impacted me X, and I felt X.  Pretty simple. And Melinda got it. She apologized and said that she didn’t even realize it and of course she wouldn’t do it again.

Looking back, I think I blog a lot about I-Messages because in my mind, they are the fastest, easiest way to get your point across when someone affects you – either positively or negatively. One simple tool that is limitless in its effect… and today, it’s all I need to defend my castle. Er, cubicle.

Learn more about L.E.T.