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National Park Service

I was asked to describe one time were I had to deal with a difficult situation in the workplace, and how I went about solving the problem.

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When faced with a "no win" situation, only weeks after starting my new job, I had to make a decision which required me to think on my feet without having the office manager present. I was working with my team and we were all answering phones one busy afternoon, when I got a call, it was my off-duty supervisor, the Park office assistant manager, calling to speak with my co-worker (but also next in charge when the manager and assisstant manager we're both absent. The assistant office manager was calling to speak to the supervisor, so I put the AM on hold and asked supervisor to take the call from AM. But she refused and said she did not want to deal with her right now. She totally refused to get on the phone and she even asked me to tell the AM that she was outside taking lunch. This was not true, thus constituted a lie. At first, I stood there with my jaw wide open to the floor and my "no way" eyes popping out! Then I insisted as firmly as appropriate that Miss Supervisor take the call . She kept saying just tell her I am not here. Here was the dilemma, I had my manager on hold and it would be irresponsible and disrespectful to not get back in the line and explain. On the other hand my supervisor was telling me to lie for her and she was standing right there, telling me to get back on the line and say she wasn't there. So I had to get back on the line and tell the manager something. I reluctantly got back in the line and told the supervisor that I would have to take a message. The manager pressed me for info and did NOT let me off the hook. So, I told her I would looking it further and have the supervisor give her a call back. But she insisted she would stay on the phone until I got the supervisor. The supervisor asked me why I couldn't just tell a little fib. I said, "I won't lie for self , and certainly won't lie for someone else. A lie is a lie. I ain't doin it." She was annoyed and said, "I'll get someone else to do it." And that she did. That co-worker was not offended by the request enough to protest and the manager finally had no choice but to get off the phone. In my opinion, they both looked rediculous and they both put us in the middle of a conflict. But, being new and just a seasonal employee, I decided to NOT complain to anyone about the incident and learn more about my surroundings before making issues. A few weeks passed and I was finally called into a meeting by the Headquarters manager and asked to be a witness in the matter so that a matter could be settle fairly. I silently doubted anything being fair except BOTH parties be reprimanded for carrying on such a roucous in front of and involving the other employees. But I agreed that I had been involved and that I would any questions from management in a truthful way. The manager of the office asked me several questions. I stuck to yes or no answers and did no elaborating or offering of any information that was not specifically asked. I did not offer my opinion or my comment on any of it. And I went my way never bringing it up again. I thought both were to blame, but one only got in trouble. Not my concern. I minded my work, my business and my opinions, all without encouraging any further doings. The matter was promptly closed, and we all lived out the rest if the hot summer. I had one happy with me, the other mad at me, and a manger that loved me. None of it, something I earned or deserved either good or bad. But, I will always remember the AM asking me with the Office Manager present, "why did you not get back on the phone and tell me she was there and just not answering the phone?" She was suggesting that I had neglected my duty to her. I explained that the situation was so out of the ordinary that I decided that I was not knowledgeable enough about the dynamics of the office to make an informed judgement on the matter. As such, I walked away from the whole thing, preferring to be responsible for my own action of walking away from it, than to be responsible for lying for one or getting someone in trouble. Later, I was commended for my decisions by several of my colleagues and by management. Moral of the story: keeping the 10 Commandments is z good policy in the workplace. Tried and true.

Anna Livia Beckendorf, Fee Collector, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas Parks and Wildlife on

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