You (use your own name) work for a company that rents office space in a large office tower.

You (use your own name) work for a company that rents office space in a large office tower. You’re the Chair of your company’s Staff Wellness Committee, and you’ve implemented some great initiatives, like workplace yoga classes, to help your staff be healthier. To reduce overhead expenses, your company shares some facilities, like washrooms and a large multipurpose common room for events, with another firm. This shared multipurpose room has been essential for holding the yoga classes.

Luckily, when you decided to offer workplace yoga classes at the beginning of November, the other company (Welcome Home Property Management, Inc.) was eager to share the classes and the cost. That way, you could offer them in the shared multipurpose room. You drew up an agreement on Nov. 3 that covered stuff like how the classes would work and who could go. For example, you both agreed that, since the room belongs to both of you equally, all classes would absolutely be open to staff from both companies. To make it super fair, the property company even set up a really convenient app for staff to sign up for the classes that gave both companies equal access.

Over the past two days, however, you’ve had multiple complaints from staff members about the yoga class. Staff from another company in the building (Top Shelf Marketing) have been attending the classes, so the classes are filling up way too quickly and lots of your staff can’t get in anymore. According to your staff, this all started on Monday, Dec. 3. The companies on your floor aren’t large, so everyone pretty much recognizes everyone else and which companies they’re from. However, Top Shelf Marketing doesn’t share any office space with your company, so there’s no way their staff should be attending your yoga classes! You check the signup app for the classes, and you see that Top Shelf Marketing staff can now sign up for the yoga classes!

You know better than to leap into action too quickly, so you wait until the class time today and go talk to the participants. Sure enough, some of the staff there are from Top Shelf. You talk to both the Top Shelf staff and the yoga teacher. They don’t really know for sure how it happened, but they say that the property company told the marketing company that they could share in the classes and added them to the scheduling app.

You’re quite annoyed—your staff need and deserve those yoga classes! The whole point of the agreement you’d signed with the property company was to make it absolutely equal and shared. That way, neither of your two companies got to use the room more or got to use the yoga classes more. However, you try to calm down before you write them an email—you don’t know who gave the marketing company access to the app and classes or why…. Maybe it was just some kind of misunderstanding or miscommunication? Or somebody, somehow didn’t understand (or check!) the agreement and thought they were just being nice and sharing? (Students: feel free to use one of these possible “what went wrong” scenarios in your adjustment message, but provide specifics.) However, you’re pretty mystified (and angry!) as to why or how they could forget to ask you about opening up the classes to another company, since the whole thing was your idea!

You’re going to write the property company’s office manager, Manfred Mansion, an email. After all, he’s the one you talked to about the classes and drew up the agreement with. He also handles the signup app for the classes. You’ve met with him a few times. You think it’s better to put your complaint in writing rather than talk to him. If you just go talk to him, you’ll show how annoyed you are! You can’t ruin the relationship between your companies, since it would be really awkward and difficult in future to get along. You’ve got to work this out, so you can continue to share space with them in peace.

You decide that what you really want is to change the signup app and the classes back to being just for your two companies. No more access for the marketing company staff—they’ll need to be informed that they can’t come anymore. After all, you signed an agreement that all yoga classes would be for your two companies—no mention of any outside companies. The staff at both companies have been loving the classes!

Write the claim email to Manfred that asks him to make sure the scheduling app isn’t available to the marketing company staff anymore. And he’ll need to make sure the marketing company knows they can’t come to the classes. You realize it’s probably a bit late for him to arrange this by tomorrow, but you’d definitely like the change to be made really soon, so you’ll give him a deadline. Of course you’ll attach the yoga classes agreement that you both signed, to prove to him that he should do what you’re asking.

Adjustment Case Scenario

You’re Manfred Mansion, the office manager at Welcome Home Property Management. You receive an email from the company you share office facilities with [the claim message described above]. You’re horrified—how could this have happened? Was it your fault or someone else’s? You definitely need to mend the relationship with your office neighbor—it would be really bad for the future relationship if they’re angry with you or think your company is careless/unfair. To make the other company happy in your adjustment emailmessage, you’ll need to do the following (make up whatever information would be reasonable, professional, and effective for the situation)[1]:

Use the adjustment message techniques to guide you about what to do (and what not to do) in the opening, middle, and closing of adjustments.
Grant the claim (give the neighbor company what it wants). (Optional: You may offer any additional benefit/extra that would be reasonable and professional in this specific scenario.)
Regain the neighbor company’s confidence fully and thoroughly (e.g. quality control, explanation/investigation, future improvement).
This situation is deliberately open-ended, so you have a variety of “what happened” options to work with. Remember, no matter what you decide (e.g. what went wrong, who was at fault), you should

Avoid blaming others. Instead, take responsibility and be tactful when mentioning other staff’s involvement.
Be positive about your company and all its staff (including yourself).
Make explanation reasonable and believable. What explanations would convince the reader that your company isn’t bad/careless/unfair? What explanations would allow you to improve your relationship with the neighbor company by changing something? What explanations would be likely/believable? Remember: no extreme situations like hospitalizations, floods, fires, alien invasions, etc.!

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