Dear Dr. Faizal,

The receptionist isn’t kind to me at work. I work in the accounting department so I often need supplies or things shipped. Whenever I ask her for anything I get an eye roll and attitude even though I’m asking politely with a smile on my face. However, she’s nice to me whenever I don’t need anything from her. How do I deal with her negative attitude when it comes to work?

– Ellen Degeneres, be my receptionist

Dear Ellen Degeneres, be my receptionist,

You seem to be a conscientious person – kind and polite with everyone you meet and meticulous at your job. That’s wonderful if others you interact with also are as committed as you are.

Not everyone, however, displays your values. The receptionist is a prime example of someone who is unprofessional; she only wishes to socialize at work and tries to shirk her professional responsibilities. I bet that she is the same way with other people in your company. So, even though her attitude is less than professional, don’t take it personally.

Taking things personally at the workplace can only lead to anguish and disappointment, which could begin to negatively affect your work. You may find yourself trying to find the supplies yourself or, worse, buying them yourself, just to avoid facing the receptionist’s “negative attitude.” This wouldn’t be fair to you, would it?

To maintain fairness within an organization, most companies nowadays have some sort of code of ethics that all employees are expected to abide by. Within these regulations, there’s usually a formal policy on workplace harassment, or inappropriate behavior, at the very least, and steps to file an anonymous complaint against another employee you believe has wronged you. It appears that you are in a position to file such a complaint if you’d like to.

If on the other hand, you would like to take a less corporate approach, when you need supplies, for example, you could approach her with your usual smile and first talk about (or even compliment) her before you ask her for the supplies. A simple example could be you saying, “Hey, miss receptionist, I love the shade of eyeliner you’re wearing today. You have such great taste in eyeliner pencils! Oh, by the way, did that order of HB pencils arrive today? Could you be a dear and get it for me before you tell me your secrets for looking so young?” As a corporate trainer once shared with me, “Help a person feel good about him or herself and he or she will give you the world on a platter.” This could work for really well until she figures out your strategy.

Another strategy that combines professionalism with a personal flair is to send the receptionist an email, asking her for what you need. This type of correspondence could read: “Good morning Receptionist! Could you kindly take out one box of HB pencils and leave it on the counter next to the printer before 11 am today? Thank you for doing this! Have a wonderful day!” If your requests are ignored, try sending the emails again, but this time with your boss cc’d on them. In this way, you would not have to deal with the receptionist’s eye rolls and negative attitude and you would maintain your professional integrity.

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