how to not sound needy at work

Here’s the scenario: you’ve run into a problem with your co-worker (yet again) and need to address it. Your co-worker is more interested in gossiping about others, including you and your boss, and it’s time to put your foot down. But how do you discuss this matter with your supervisor… without sounding whiny or needy?

How To Not Sound Needy At Work

We have all been in these situations at least once, so we thought it would be appropriate to compile a list of the best ways to approach (and NOT to approach) your boss or supervisor when you’re faced with a problem at a moment’s notice.  

Whatever the situation, it can be resolved with the help of the following steps.

1. Keep your emotions in check.

Let’s say that you’re annoyed by a gossipy co-worker or your work environment feels hostile because of this one co-worker. Approach your boss in a calm manner. Ask if they have a second to address some concerns you are having or schedule a meeting.

We know it will be difficult to keep your emotions in check, especially since you’re frustrated to the core, but try your best to keep it together. Talking to your boss without getting flustered will be prime in showing that you’re not being demanding and unruly (like your co-worker).

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 If you can keep your emotions in line, it’ll be easier to show your boss that you’re not being whiny or needy. Making a list of specific situations and examples will help you to go about it in a pragmatic way and keep your focus from shifting to your emotions.

However, we understand that keeping your emotions steady can’t always happen when you’re in a state of frustration.

Tip: Before speaking to your boss, write down your complaints and feelings. Go over them in your head and try to pick out any that cause you to feel an extremely negative emotion. Be careful with those when you speak to your boss — steer clear of those terms to avoid the emotions that come with them.

2. Don’t let things negatively affect your work performance.

If your boss isn’t receptive to your concerns, don’t let it negatively affect your work performance. Stooping to your co-workers level by gossiping or speaking poorly about your meeting will only result in disaster for you.

If your boss doesn’t respond to you immediately, give it some time. It’s highly unlikely your co-worker will get fired on the spot and it might be awhile before your boss gets a chance to speak to him or her — be patient and keep up with your own responsibilities. If it continues to be an issue, bring it up again in a month or two.

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3. Stay organized.

Another situation you could be faced with while working is taking time off or finding someone to work for you.  

As twenty-somethings in the “real” world, vacation times could be difficult to come by since you’re just entering the workforce and all (*sigh*).  But, somehow, between your busy lives, you’ve finally found the time to take a mini-vacay with your significant other — and you deserve the time off!  

Prior to bursting into your supervisor’s office to make your demands, make a timeline of your work, the dates you would like to take off, and then present each to your superior.  For example, you could present your boss with the following timeline to show when your work will be completed, how long you will be gone, and when you will return to work:

  • May 10 – May 17: Work on (insert your project here), will be completed during this week
  • May 18 – May 24: Proposed week of vacation time
  • May 25: Proposed day to return to the offices

If you think it might be difficult to not sound needy or whiny about getting your time off, try to offer some alternative dates for your planned vacation.  If May doesn’t work, ask your boss when the work will be slowing down a bit and take your week off during that time. Being open, calm, and prepared are key to not sounding whiny or needy about your wants.

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While there are hundreds of situations you could be faced with in your professional life, it’s important to remember that you won’t always get your way.  

This doesn’t mean to let your issues with co-workers, time off, work assignments, and more slide into the abyss of your mind, taint your attitude and affect your work performance. If you have an issue with something and want action to be made on it, present your problems clearly to your boss.  Without confusion or tying a tangled web of emotions, you could be one step closer to action.