Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: TootsNYC on January 06, 2013, 04:39:19 PM

Title: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 06, 2013, 04:39:19 PM
I'm going to have to change my tactics, because twice this week I've gotten burned.

When I'm working on a project, sometimes I need input from the person in charge of it. And occasionally I get that input by having them come over to *my* desk and look over my shoulder at the computer screen.

So on Wed., I called a project head and said, "I'm almost done, but I need your help with this. Can you come over?" She said, "sure," and then I waited. And waited. I was hungry, but I didn't want to go to get something because I thought she'd be there any minute. I got distracted with a few piddly things while I waited, and then I called her and left a message saying, "I'm waiting on you."
    About 20 minutes later, or more, she comes by. I said, "I was waiting on you," and she said, "I had to go through my emails." (She'd been away between the holidays.)
    I didn't say anything (maybe I should have, but I was too crabby and hungry to trust myself), but I thought, "you couldn't have told me that when I called? Then I could have gone and gotten something to eat instead of staying here."

Later in the week it happened again--I called someone and said, "Can you come help me with this?" and she said sure. So 10 minutes later I send an email saying, "here's what I think will fix it." I wait 7 more minutes, no answer, so I walk over there.

I'm going to start saying, "How soon will you be able to get here? Will you be able to come right away?"
I know they have lots of stuff to do, but so do I. And I'm happy to wait--I'm actually good at being patient. But I'd like to know.

What do you think of the new plan?

And am I right in thinking it wasn't particularly polite of them, to not say, "sure, in about 15 minutes," or "I'm got to go through my email first." Or to call once they realized how long it was taking.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 06, 2013, 04:55:13 PM
Yes, please ask if they can come now or will be by later.  "I'm finished with X.  Are you available to come now?"

If someone doesn't give me a time frame, I am assuming they are leaving it to me to come when I want.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: MyFamily on January 06, 2013, 05:08:40 PM
Your requests for assistance never indicate that you need them to come now.  So, why would you expect them to drop everything right away and come help you?  Unless there is a time demand, my assumption is that your request is for you to come when it is convient for me to come, based on my personal workload.  If you want to know when they will come over, that is legitimate, but you need to ask that, and not assume they are coming right away.  I'd envision a conversation like this:
"I'm up to X section of project B.  In order for me to go further, I need your input on Y. Can you come to my desk to review this with me?"

"Sure!"

"Great! Thank you.  What works for your schedule?  I don't want to be too pushy, but I can't go forward on this project until we meet.  Thank you."
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 06, 2013, 05:10:05 PM
hmm, that's interesting.

I sort of though that there was an unspoken timeframe--right away. Stuff normally moves through my own department pretty rapidly; we're the last in the chain.

And I guess I also was acting under the assumption that if the weren't coming right away, they would say. That "can you come by my desk and look at this thing I'm currently working on, and have open on my screen" means "pretty promptly."

Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: buvezdevin on January 06, 2013, 05:25:32 PM
Maybe make the immediacy of your request more explicit, while acknowledging that if "right now" is not convenient for them, can they let you know when they can come look at the project.

"I need your input on X project, and think it would be best if you can come by my desk and see the widget-in-progress - would you mind coming over now, or let me know what works for you?"
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: oceanus on January 06, 2013, 05:36:09 PM
I think when you initially ask for help you should say "Are you in the middle of something?" or "Do you have a few minutes?", and make it clear that you can't go forward.

Then the other person has the chance to say "No problem, be right there" or "Let me finish checking my emails, and I'll be over in about 10-15 minutes."

Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: blarg314 on January 06, 2013, 07:50:28 PM
I agree that checking the time frame is good, and also not expecting them to come over immediately.  Assume that whatever they are currently working on is also important, and that they'll need a bit of time to come to a natural stopping point.

I know that for the kind of stuff I work on, five-ten minutes can make the difference between easily being able to pick up where I left off, or spending fifteen minutes or more getting back to that point.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: perpetua on January 07, 2013, 04:12:26 AM
It's a bit snowflakey to expect other people to immediately drop what they're doing to attend to you. Perhaps "I need some assistance with (x) task - when might you be able to stop by?" would be a more polite way to handle it.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: YummyMummy66 on January 07, 2013, 06:54:11 AM
Is there a reason they must come to your desk?

You say looking at your computer screen.  Could you not get up, go to said person't desk and/or office and ask about the help and load the info. onto their computer?

You are asking for help, not them.  If it were me, I would be going to them for the help, not expecting them to drop everything and come to me at that very second.   You have a job to do as they do also. 

I agree with others that when you ask for help, you might want to also ask when they will be able to stop by.  This way, if you are not able to go to them, you can work on other things as well until they are able to come to your desk.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 07, 2013, 07:09:29 AM
Is there a reason they must come to your desk?

You say looking at your computer screen.  Could you not get up, go to said person't desk and/or office and ask about the help and load the info. onto their computer?

You are asking for help, not them.  If it were me, I would be going to them for the help, not expecting them to drop everything and come to me at that very second.   You have a job to do as they do also. 

I agree with others that when you ask for help, you might want to also ask when they will be able to stop by.  This way, if you are not able to go to them, you can work on other things as well until they are able to come to your desk.

I dont think there is anything wrong with them going to Toots desk.

Toots didn't say she was needing help.  She said she is doing a activity for them and needs their input.  I'm imaging some type of design thing and she wants them to review and approve before finalizing.  It's their project, she is just completing a portion for them.  Many people at my office use specialty software that is not loaded on everyone's computer so it really wouldn't work to take to someone else.  Or the time it would take to load up fir someone would be unreasonable.  I'm thinking of CAD drawings.

I think just clarifying if they are available now is fine.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: bopper on January 07, 2013, 08:43:50 AM
Do you have one of those "Live Meeting" or "WebX" computer screen sharing programs? Then nobody has to get up!

Otherwise, "Do you have a minute to come by now to give me the info?"
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: amylouky on January 07, 2013, 09:30:52 AM
I think you'll save yourself a lot of headache (and hunger?) by specifying a time frame. As seen from these replies, "come over" is not always interpreted as "right now".. actually, I think more people take it as "when you have time".
I generally start with, "Do you have a minute to look at something with me?" which I think prompts the other person to say when they do/will have time. It isn't always easy to drop everything to go off and do another task. If I get asked something like this, I'll reply with "Sure, can you give me 10 mins and I'll walk over?"
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 07, 2013, 10:41:56 AM
The first one was the one that annoyed me, mostly because I would have left my desk if I'd known she wasn't coming over.

And I guess I got myself into this by thinking that, at our organization, where things happen pretty rapidly, I'd have said, "Give me 5 minutes" if I needed some time.

  So when she said, "sure," I thought she'd come within the next 10 minutes. I waited much longer than that, every minute thinking, 'well, she's done with whatever was holding her up; she'll be here any minute."

Clarifying it will certainly keep me from being annoyed (and hungry but trapped at my desk).
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: lowspark on January 07, 2013, 01:23:48 PM
I actually work in a somewhat similar situation where I ask people over to my desk occasionally for advice on things I am working on for them. This office is full of very busy people so the chances that someone I contact (almost always via IM) will be able to come over immediately are low. Mostly it's going to be at least a few minutes or probably more.

But my conversations are always similar to what you describe:
me: can you come over for a quick look at xyz please?
them: sure, I'll be right there.

So, after that exchange, if they don't come over right away, I just go on about my business as usual. If I have to get up to go to the restroom or lunch or if I have to make a phone call or whatever, I just do it. When they come over, I'll either be able to receive them and discuss the issue or I won't. If I'm not there or if I'm busy, they can come back later.

It just seems to be understood that everyone is busy (including me) and we do the best we can to get together even if it takes more than one try. If I had to sit around waiting for people to come to my desk I'd end up being chained to it all day long!  ;D

So... I think you're fine to ask when they'll come over, but even then, I'd say, be prepared for the eventuality that they still might not come as planned in case they get side tracked or interrupted or whatever.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 07, 2013, 03:34:29 PM
I'm totally ok w/ them getting sidetracked on their way to me. It's just that the first person seemed to have voluntarily tackled a task that could have waited.

And maybe I also need to declare stuff like, "Hey, I called you, but you didn't come, so I'm going to get a snack--I'll be back in about 7 minutes."

It's just that minutes can sometimes count. At least, for moving a task forward one stage!
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: lowspark on January 07, 2013, 04:01:23 PM
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I'm in a very similar situation. All the work I do is initiated by someone else's request. So if they want it fast, they have to be available to answer questions. If I need further clarification on something and can't proceed until I get it, it's in their best interest to be there to answer. And I've even had people tell me they'll be in a meeting and to come get them out if I need something. So I figure, it's their project, and they know the urgency of it.

If I ask them to come over and they feel that something else takes precedence (even answering emails) then, well, that's their call. In my case I've pretty much always got something else to work on if they can't come right away so I just divert my attention as needed.

Maybe it's the particular dynamic of the office I work in. Because everyone is so crazy busy, and they all know that I am too, no one ever bats an eye that I've moved on. I just get back to whatever it is I was asking about when they do come over, sometimes taking a few seconds to refresh in my mind what the question was. Or if I'm away from my desk, they just come back or IM me to say they came by or whatever.

Are you worried about a backlash if you aren't at your desk when they arrive, even if it's been more than just a couple of minutes?
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 07, 2013, 04:22:23 PM
I'm not really worried about the backlash so much as about not accomplishing things in the fastest manner for the sake of the people who follow me in the process.
   And, every half-hour of delay in the early part of the process can really hit us all in the end.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: bopper on January 08, 2013, 07:54:00 AM
Just had this occur with my daughter...I think some of this is P.A.ness on their part.  They know they should do it, but don't feel like it. Also they may be doing something else they "need" to finish up.
I wanted my daughter to put away some ornaments back into a box and I wanted to show her which ones.  I said "Could you come here?"
and she said "Yes."  So I stood there waiting for her to come into the other room.  And stood.  I remembered this thread and said "Now?"
and I got the "i am trying to finish something" (which would have been better if she just said that in the first place, but no).
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 08, 2013, 11:37:42 AM
funny how often work and home are a lot alike, no?
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: Jocelyn on January 12, 2013, 01:24:50 PM
I think this is a prime example of 'never attribute to malice that which is equally well explained by stupidity'. It's possible that your request just doesn't create an impression of urgency in your listeners. So that rather than ignoring you, or rudely making you wait, they just don't realize that 20 minutes is too long from your pov. Being more specific in your request : I need to get your input on this, but I'd also like to go to lunch within the next half-hour. Can we meet right now, or should I go to lunch first?'  might get you the results you desire.
Personally, there have been days when I was out of the office, and had not had a chance to see if there were any urgent emails waiting for me, so that flipping through my email seems like both a priority and a quick task...but then, I start answering and lose track of time.
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: jpcher on January 13, 2013, 04:26:25 PM
LOL! this hits home. One of my big complaints. Although on the different side, not me asking to with meet someone, someone else (big director (BD)) asking to meet with me.

I got into work Friday morning and had an e-mail from BD asking me to work on a project. She said that she will come to my office in about 15 minutes. I e-mailed back and said "No problem. I'm here." This was 7 a.m.

I put aside other projects, called up her files, prepped with my questions, etc. . . . BD was a no-show.

10:25 BD called me and said that she had a 10:30 meeting and could we get together at 11:00. I said "No problem, I'm here."

11:30 -- my lunchtime. I went to lunch, even though I had trepidations about BD showing up as soon as I left the office.

BD didn't show up until after 2:00.



Yes, the people that keep you waiting until it's convenient for them is a huge problem area in my book.


Toots -- I agree with the other posters, set a time for them to come to your desk. I think that a phone call instead of e-mail would be better. With voice-to-voice you can insist on the need/reason for prompt timing . . . "In order to push this project forward to the next level in a timely manner, I really need your approval as soon as possible. When is the earliest time that you can meet with me?"

Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 14, 2013, 10:44:56 AM
I think this is a prime example of 'never attribute to malice that which is equally well explained by stupidity'. It's possible that your request just doesn't create an impression of urgency in your listeners. So that rather than ignoring you, or rudely making you wait, they just don't realize that 20 minutes is too long from your pov. Being more specific in your request : I need to get your input on this, but I'd also like to go to lunch within the next half-hour. Can we meet right now, or should I go to lunch first?'  might get you the results you desire.
Personally, there have been days when I was out of the office, and had not had a chance to see if there were any urgent emails waiting for me, so that flipping through my email seems like both a priority and a quick task...but then, I start answering and lose track of time.

Oh, I didn't attribute this to malice! I was annoyed (esp. the time I was delaying "fueling the machine"), but I didn't think they were being mean.

I guess if I think I actually will do something before to head over to someone's desk, I *say* so. Neither of these people did.

It was a lesson to me in differing expectations.

(Oh, and if I want them right away, I *do* phone them. I'm just going to need to say the word "now.")
Title: Re: *when* are you coming over to my desk?
Post by: AuntyEm on January 15, 2013, 07:01:40 AM
If I needed them to come to my desk, I would go over to them (or call if necessary) and ask if they had time to look at something on my screen.  I think that implies that you would like them to come over now and I think you would be able to tell from their response how quickly they would be able to do it.

If they look like they're in the middle of something, you could tell them that you could run out and get a sandwich while they finish up which would also prompt them to give you a time frame.