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Inside Outsourced: He Said, He Said

This week’s episode of “Outsourced” begins with Gupta going through a box of Mid America Novelties’ new products. He finds a novelty hearing aid, which allows him to eavesdrop on all the conversations taking place in the call center.

In particular, he overhears Rajiv talking to Vimi, his fiancé. Apparently, they are arguing over the fact that her father wants the two of them to live in the family home after they get married, while Rajiv wants them to live on their own. Frustrated, Vimi puts her father on the phone, at which point Rajiv instantly becomes submissive and agrees to whatever he says.

Meanwhile, Manmeet wants to make a video of himself to send to his girlfriend in the U.S. He teams up with Charlie, who will serves as director, and the two plan on pulling out all the stops so Manmeet can really impress her. Their tactics include filming in Todd’s apartment and passing it off as his own, pretending that’s he’s the most important person in the whole office, and doing other things to make him look better. Todd, however, points out that Manmeet should just be himself rather than lying.

As the filming is going on, Rajiv and Gupta are yelling at each other, with Gupta even saying that Rajiv hit him. Todd intervenes, but it’s a he-said, he-said situation, with Gupta swearing he was hit and Rajiv implying that Gupta slapped himself. With that, Todd has no idea what to do. Fortunately, Charlie and Manmeet rush in to let Todd know that they recorded the incident while filming Manmeet’s video.

The recording clearly shows Rajiv slapping Gupta across the face. When Todd confronts Rajiv about it, Rajiv explains that he’s been really stressed out because of his future father-in-law and that Gupta was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, Todd explains that what he did was inexcusable and that he’ll have to be let go. Meanwhile, Gupta is still wearing the novelty hearing aid and hears this whole conversation.

Later on, Gupta comes clean to Todd about what really happened. Apparently, he instigated the slap by teasing Rajiv about how he deferential he was to Vimi’s father. Since his actions set Rajiv off, Gupta feels horrible about it and doesn’t want Rajiv to get fired.

So Todd agrees to let Rajiv off the hook. But that doesn’t mean he’s totally in the clear. Todd tells him that he has to be punished, and that it’s up to Gupta to choose the punishment. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear what that punishment is. If I had to guess, I’d think Gupta would make Rajiv spend the whole day with him. I’d say there’s no bigger punishment than having to spend the day with Gupta.

To shed some light on the issues we’ve seen in this episode, here are ICMI's Rose Polchin and Paul Pope.

Q. While the situation between Rajiv and Gupta is obviously something that should be handled by HR, what advice can you give about resolving conflicts in general between co-workers?

Paul: It’s difficult to make generalizations when it comes to conflict resolution, as there is so much potential for conflict all around us. Gupta was clearly out of line in this scenario. Eavesdropping is just plain wrong, even when it isn’t meant maliciously. Still, in this day and age, the expectation of total privacy in the workplace is more and more a thing of the past.

If Todd doesn’t want to escalate every workplace situation to the HR department, he should work on making it clear to his staff where the lines of privacy lie in their environment. He might also consider learning how mediation is used to resolve conflicts in business and in family disputes.

Q. Rajiv’s unprofessional actions were a result of stress from his personal life. Do you have any tips for not letting your personal life affect your work performance?

Rose: In a perfect world, we would have two separate lives – our work life and our personal life and those lives would never spill over into each other. The reality is that the world is not perfect; we spend a lot of time at our workplaces and often troubles at work get brought home and vice versa. In this episode, it is personal issues that spill over into the workplace. Personal issues (and they can be both positive or negative events) like the one Rajiv was experiencing related to family, life-changing events or illness can impact your work performance and perhaps your ability to advance your career (which is exactly what Rajiv has been striving for and would solve his family/personal issue!)

So what can you do to assist you in keeping your work and personal lives from impacting each other?

  1. Know thyself! Know what your stress triggers are in terms of what is causing you stress in your personal life.
  2. Take steps to manage that stress. (For tips on managing stress, see Episode #14 where the shoe ironically was on the other foot: Gupta’s personal problems came into the workplace.)
  3. Recognize that the workplace is a public place. If you are on your cell phone on a personal call, chances are pretty high that someone will overhear you (as we saw in this episode).
  4. Keeping your personal and work lives separate doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly and/or share good news or even bad. It is more about determining how much, with who and when you share that information that is critical.
  5. Seek professional assistance. Check with HR. If the company has an Employee Assistance Program, make use of it if you feel comfortable doing so and/or engage with an external professional.

No one said it would be easy to manage keeping one from impacting the other, however, knowing yourself, how much you feel comfortable sharing (and you and only you can determine that), potential stress triggers and ways to manage it can go a long way towards preventing your personal and work lives from colliding in unwanted or unexpected ways.

Paul: All contact center managers, supervisors, and team leaders should be trained on tips and techniques for handling stress. In ICMI’s virtual classroom course, Contact Center Stress Management: Signs, Symptoms & Solutions, you’ll learn how to gauge the energy level of your contact center and head off any stress build-up so you can retain more productive, more valuable employees. This virtual classroom course is available live or on-demand.