I’m wondering about something that at my workplace and how to handle it.
I’ve just started working as a counselor in a large office. There are a lot of people who have been here for decades and, at thirty five years of age, I’m one of the youngest. I’m letting my grey hair grow out a little, I dress very conservatively and professionally, and I am polite and courteous at all times. In spite of this though, I’ve encountered a few people who seem to think that they need to explain random things to me “in case I don’t know better”.
One woman pointed out that I should wear my hair up all the time. Another prefers specific jewelry on me. One of the men made his opinion on hair and nail care known in no uncertain terms (my nails are short, clean, and have very sheer/pale pink polish and my hair is a long bob that’s always tidy). Again, I look professional and well groomed. My clothing choices are usually pant or skirt suits or knee length dresses with hosiery. I do not wear bright colours, loud patterns, short skirts, or sleeveless or low cut tops and I leave my red lipstick at home.
I am extremely respectful. I never let doors slam behind me, I always hold them and let others go before me and so on. I do not interrupt people or bring smelly food for lunch. I wash dishes that have been left in the sink by others. I try to always be at my best here.
But here is what I’m wondering about. Aside from a few spots reserved for managers, parking is not assigned and it’s on a first come, first served basis. I got to the office early today (as usual) and, as I was backing into a spot, a man approached me. I rolled down my window to see what he wanted and he said that he’s not trying to be “anal” but I should be respectful of my elders and park farther down the lot. It was raining and I had a lot of things to carry. Regardless, I moved four spots down to keep him happy.
I completely understand the importance of respecting one’s elders. But our office has an absurd amount of staircases and everyone here can manage them just fine. We do not have senior citizens working here and we have a lot of reserved spots for clients in front of the building. No one needs special parking privileges in employee parking. And our parking lot is really small so parking at the end isn’t a big deal at all.
What I’m annoyed by is how this guy felt that it was his place to condescendingly tell me what he thought I should do when there’s no policy for it. Am I over reacting by being annoyed? And should I make a point of always parking farther away even though no one else does? Also it should be noted that this guy doesn’t normally work from our office; he’s just here because it’s quieter here than at his normal one today. I did ask my boss about this and he confirmed that there are no parking “rules” here and that it’s the first he’s heard of the issue. It kind of felt like the guy was just trying to save a good spot for his buddy.
So I need advice on how to grow a polite spine here for when these things happen. Should I comply with the “suggestions” from my “elders” or should I just politely carry on and do my job? I don’t want to upset anyone but I also have the right to not be bothered too. I am always open to legitimate feedback but some of the things I’m being “advised” on are a little absurd and completely unnecessary. What would be a good way to handle future “suggestions” without ruffling feathers please? 0314-16
In regards to comments about your appearance, the only opinion that matters is your boss’s and if he doesn’t appear to have an issue with your workplace attire, you can smile at the silly comments of your co-workers and then completely flush it out of your mind. Frankly, to me you sound a bit defensive so you haven’t learned yet to be inwardly confident of your choices of clothing, hygiene and how you behave in the office and so you get rattled by every comment you hear. A significant part of having a polite spine is having the inner conviction that you live your life based on good principles that then translates into having a calm yet polite spine.
As for the co-worker who opined that for you to show proper respect for your elders by parking farther down the lot, I would have sweetly asked him, “I will move but I have a lot to carry into the building and am in need of a gentleman to help me. Would you know of one?”