The Best Strategies for Picking Your Battles at Work

Which conflicts to pursue and which ones to drop

Muriel Vega
Forge
Published in
5 min readJan 17, 2019

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

A couple months ago, I received an email from a public relations assistant with embargoed news that, as a tech reporter, I was excited to cover. But as I was working to schedule the relevant interviews, I received a Google alert that the news had already gone out — a full week before the embargo date she gave me.

Furious, I Slacked my boss and spent the next several minutes describing the passive-aggressive email I was planning to send to my PR contact. She listened to me vent and, when I was done, instructed me to let the whole thing go. “Pick your battles,” she said.

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but begrudgingly, I knew she was right. The relationship with this PR person, in the long run, was more important than my frustration in the moment. I didn’t send the email. Shortly after my venting session, the PR person sent over an apology, explaining that she’d gotten the date wrong.

I’ve put the incident behind me, but in the time that’s elapsed since then, I’ve been turning my boss’ advice around in my mind, trying to understand it a little better. We’re often told to pick our battles, to carefully choose the conflicts we pursue. And with good reason: Employees in the United States spend an…

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Muriel Vega
Forge
Writer for

Tech writer + editor. Bylines at The Washington Post, Eater, Delta SKY Magazine, Apartment Therapy + more. Dreaming of tamales. www.murielvega.net