How to han­dle the of­fice busy­body

Boston Herald - - CAREERS - By MARIE G. MCINTYRE

I share an of­fice with a nosy woman. “Jenna” is good friends with our man­ager and has a rep­u­ta­tion as the depart­ment tat­tle­tale. She con­stantly mon­i­tors my ac­tiv­i­ties and asks what I’m do­ing. My job in­volves spend­ing a good deal of time on­line, so she may think I’m goof­ing off.

Jenna also ap­pears to be jeal­ous of my friend­ship with other co-work­ers and fre­quently asks me about their per­sonal busi­ness. She doesn’t get along with most of these peo­ple, so I sus­pect she’s pump­ing me for in­for­ma­tion to give the boss.

Al­though I love my job, I’m be­com­ing para­noid about my of­fice mate. What should I do?

Kindly re­mem­ber that you are not re­quired to share in­for­ma­tion just be­cause some­one wants it. That’s rule No. 1. Rule No. 2 is that you can usu­ally di­vert an in­quiry with­out be­ing rude. Your goal with Jenna, there­fore, is to re­spond in an ami­able man­ner while re­veal­ing noth­ing of im­por­tance.

When she asks what you’re do­ing on the in­ter­net, say some­thing like, “Oh, it’s an­other bor­ing project.” If she presses you fur­ther, re­ply that you don’t have time to ex­plain, but it’s re­ally not very in­ter­est­ing. If you con­sis­tently pro­vide neb­u­lous re­sponses, even­tu­ally she will stop ask­ing.

When Jenna probes for dirt about your col­leagues, the best re­sponse is to be com­pletely clue­less. Sim­ply smile and say “I re­ally have no idea” or “I haven’t heard any­thing about that,” then change the sub­ject.

You cer­tainly don’t want to alien­ate some­one who is bud­dies with your boss, so just be sure that all your con­ver­sa­tions with Jenna are pleas­ant, friendly and vague.

I have un­in­ten­tion­ally cre­ated a big prob­lem with my man­ager. Un­for­tu­nately, I have doubts about his tech­ni­cal skills and feel that he needs more train­ing. Since I didn’t want to tell him this, I de­cided to take some of my tech­ni­cal con­cerns to his boss.

His boss es­ca­lated our con­ver­sa­tion into a for­mal dis­cus­sion with hu­man re­sources. As a re­sult, my man­ager is now aware of my feel­ings about his tech­ni­cal abil­ity. I didn’t in­tend for this to hap­pen, so how can I re­pair our re­la­tion­ship?

Com­plain­ing about the boss is al­ways a risky propo­si­tion, so any­one con­sid­er­ing that step should weigh the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits against the po­ten­tial cost. Even if your con­cerns are valid, your man­ager prob­a­bly feels that he has been sand­bagged. Since this was not your in­ten­tion, the first step toward re­cov­ery may be a sin­cere state­ment of re­gret.

For ex­am­ple: “I want you to know that when I talked with your boss, I wasn’t try­ing to get you in trou­ble. I had no idea that he was go­ing to get HR in­volved. In the fu­ture, I can as­sure you that I will bring any con­cerns directly to you. I hope this mis­un­der­stand­ing won’t ad­versely af­fect our work­ing re­la­tion­ship.”

Af­ter that, just give things time to set­tle down. As long as you keep com­mu­ni­ca­tions pos­i­tive, your man­ager’s re­sent­ment is likely to fade.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.