Dear Margo: Too Much Information

Dear Margo: I work in a small department that is part of a big university. There are just 12 of us here, and for the most part, we all get along. There are, however, three individuals who irritate me. One is a man who’s been divorced for years and is always bringing up his dating sex life. The second man discusses his colonoscopy procedure in detail, as well as his wife’s problems with menopause. The third man tells me things such as his not having had a bowel movement in five days.

I have a feeling the other people in the department don’t hear about all this, because no one has so far mentioned it. And I know they would. I, therefore, assume I’m the only target of this flow of personal information. How do I make it clear to these men that I don’t really need to know (and don’t care to know) so much about their private lives? Sometimes I’m so appalled that I don’t know what to say, except “that’s nice” or “that’s too bad.” — Trapped

Dear Trap: Wow. I think I would say, “That’s gross.” If you are a department of 12, you and the three men with no judgment make four. I am wondering whether the other eight are all men, which might explain why you are the designated mother confessor. I don’t know where you got the idea that you have to listen to whatever some people choose to tell you, but it is an incorrect notion. Next time one of these clowns starts in with bowel movements or babes, simply say, “You know what? I find this kind of conversation inappropriate, and you should consider talking either to your physician or a therapist.” Over and out. — Margo, definitively

Dear Margo: I have a co-worker who is impossible to work with. I’ve always been very cordial and treated him with respect. However, he rudely ignores me when I speak to him, and when he does hear me speaking, he always tells me to shut up. When I greet him and say hello, he is hesitant or reluctant to return the greeting. I feel this person doesn’t like me at all and wishes that I didn’t work in the same place. I find the whole thing very strange. What can be done about this? I want this problem resolved peacefully, but I don’t want to confront him or do anything to get him in trouble. — Victimized at the Office

Dear Vic: Why not? He is behaving miserably and making your work life hell. Is there a chance the man is partially deaf? This might account for what you perceive as being rudely ignored. If this is the case, the frustration of not hearing may make him behave like an angry bear. Do others in the office get the same treatment?

If you, alone, are the object of his incivility, I would write him a note (easier than taking him aside) saying you are unaware of anything on your part that would elicit his unfriendliness, but if there is something, you would like to know. And additionally, his ill-tempered comportment is no longer acceptable. Further, say that his behavior requires an explanation — if there is one — and modification because you are not inclined to take guff from a co-worker any longer. If you receive no satisfactory answer, or no answer at all, do go to a superior or HR. Work, after all, is where many of us spend a third of each day, five days a week. — Margo, adamantly

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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