Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: GSNW on October 01, 2013, 04:41:11 PM

Title: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: GSNW on October 01, 2013, 04:41:11 PM
I've run into an annoying problem at work and need a polite phrase.

My husband and I coach one of the school's teams.  To be clear, he does the coaching (my coaching basically consists of, "get the ball!") and I manage the program's details and manage the bench during games.  This year, a new teacher has taken over the cheer squad (thank goodness).  Being that she's new to middle school athletics, she has a lot of questions - which isn't bad, and we are happy to help.

The problem comes when she has problems I don't know the answer to, things about facility use and some other things.  I have referred her several times to my DH, who does know the answers, as in, "I'm sorry but I don't know - DH will know."  I get that asking me is convenient because I'm right across the hall, but we have staff email which is easy to use. 

More recently, she has said, "I asked (your DH) but he hasn't emailed me back yet.  What is the answer?"  Well, I still don't know, and I don't think it's my job to bug him to email her back.  I've said, "I'll mention it to him," but I feel like this was probably the wrong answer because I don't want to encourage her to continue bugging me when he doesn't email her back in 4-5 hours.

What can I say politely to curb this?
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Promise on October 01, 2013, 04:51:44 PM
I can see that she probably thinks you know more than you actually do. The next time she comes over you might say, "I know that you might think I know about "sport/facility issue", but I don't. I'm so glad that you are looking for an answer! However, I get frustrated when you ask me questions because I really can't help you and I don't want "issue" to come between my husband and me. Going forward, just ask him any questions that you have about that. If he doesn't respond in a day, email him back."
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: White Lotus on October 01, 2013, 04:53:29 PM
"We have a division of labor.  That is his area of responsibility, and you need to ask him directly about that." Push, Push.  "This is how we handle questions to avoid confusion and mis-communications.  Please deal directly with him."  Push, Push.  "That will not be possible."
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: fountainof on October 01, 2013, 05:34:12 PM
If you are the manager of the team I can see why she is asking you as the managers would typically answer questions.  If you aren't required to assist her I guess I would keep telling her to ask your DH but if the team is responsible to support the Cheer Leader issues then I think you should ask your DH and relay the answers as this would be what a manager generally does.  If someone at a workplace asks their manager something, typically, the manager would then be responsible to find out rather than say "IDK, why don't you ask ...".
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: EllenS on October 01, 2013, 05:57:35 PM
My husband and I both do volunteer work in different programs at our church.  I used to get this a LOT.  I am generally more responsive on email and phone, and several of the people know me better socially, so all requests for his help/answers/presence/schedule would come to me.  In my part of the world, there is also a very strong expectation that married couples share a brain, and that wives are "supposed" to be in charge of communications and scheduling.

I have a very strict policy against "voluntelling" my husband for things, learned through bitter experience.

"Sorry, I can't answer for DH.  His cell number is..." Lather, rinse, repeat.  It has taken a couple of years to train them all.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: GSNW on October 01, 2013, 06:03:27 PM
...if the team is responsible to support the Cheer Leader issues then I think you should ask your DH and relay the answers as this would be what a manager generally does.  If someone at a workplace asks their manager something, typically, the manager would then be responsible to find out rather than say "IDK, why don't you ask ...".

We're not responsible for the cheerleader issues.  Basically the only thing the teams do together is travel to games, and that's handled by our assistant principal.  Maybe I can give a more concrete example.

Question:  Do the girls have to have proof of insurance before they tryout, or only if they make the team?
Me:  I'm not sure.  Since DH is in charge of tryouts, he would know whether or not they have to have it prior to tryouts or afterwards.

Then she emails him, and when he doesn't respond in her designated timeframe, I get the, "I asked but he hasn't responded."

I don't mind her asking questions, even if I don't know the answer or have to direct her to someone that does.  I do object to her policing DH through me - I don't control his email use at work OR home.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: greencat on October 01, 2013, 06:19:38 PM
I suspect that she may be asking you either in a spirit of female togetherness, or because she has had bad experiences working with a husband-and-wife team where the wife was suspicious of a another woman constantly talking to her husband, despite it being work related.  She might also have it in her head that, as you said, you manage the program's details,  so you must handle all that information-type stuff while your husband handles just the how-to-play-the-game part of things.

It would probably benefit her greatly if you and your husband spelled out exactly what each of you do for the team, so she understands who best to direct questions to.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 01, 2013, 06:52:03 PM
I think you need to ignore the fact your co-coach is your husband. Honestly, if if I ask one co-coach for an a answer and they refers me to their co-coach who doesn't respond then I can imagine asking the coach I see on a frequent basis.

If you don't want to have the responsibility of following up with your co-coach then tell her "He and I have clear decision of responsibilities. Anything to do with policy or facility use will need to be addressed directly by co-coach but I'll be happy to answer any questions about player registration or parent volunteering."
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Zizi-K on October 01, 2013, 08:29:04 PM
...if the team is responsible to support the Cheer Leader issues then I think you should ask your DH and relay the answers as this would be what a manager generally does.  If someone at a workplace asks their manager something, typically, the manager would then be responsible to find out rather than say "IDK, why don't you ask ...".

We're not responsible for the cheerleader issues.  Basically the only thing the teams do together is travel to games, and that's handled by our assistant principal.  Maybe I can give a more concrete example.

Question:  Do the girls have to have proof of insurance before they tryout, or only if they make the team?
Me:  I'm not sure.  Since DH is in charge of tryouts, he would know whether or not they have to have it prior to tryouts or afterwards.

Then she emails him, and when he doesn't respond in her designated timeframe, I get the, "I asked but he hasn't responded."

I don't mind her asking questions, even if I don't know the answer or have to direct her to someone that does.  I do object to her policing DH through me - I don't control his email use at work OR home.

I would just play clueless/helpless. Shrug and say, "Gee I don't know, I would check with Mr. GSNW..." I would not explain any more than that, or you are opening yourself up to additional questioning.

If she says, "But I haven't heard back from him." You can just say, "Hmm, I'm not sure why, but I'm sure he'll respond. You can always try resending..."

Let the implication that you should help her get the answer just roll off your back.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: TootsNYC on October 01, 2013, 09:21:03 PM
My mom used to say (about the community theater group they founded--Dad was the director, mom the costumer and an actress), "I don't carry messages to my husband. I'm sorry--it's just my policy. I don't like to be in the middle."

And she also sometimes said, "I'm not a reliable person to carry messages to him. Please don't give me that responsibility."

Sometimes she said, "I have so many things that I *must* communicate to him that are family related, and I simply don't have the brain space to carry messages."

You might, in this transition/training time, ask your DH to speak with her to set up more organized points of contact, etc. I realize that's a bit of "carrying messages," and perhaps SHE should think of that (you could suggest it to her), but it might be an organizational thing that would set up the expectation/plan BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM that would be valuable enough that it's worth interfering.

Otherwise, you might have a stock phrase--maybe the "cut and paste" would make her realize that she's not going to GET any other answer than, "You'll have to ask him--I don't speak for him, and I don't carry messages." And so she'll give up and go ask him.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: TootsNYC on October 01, 2013, 09:21:56 PM
In your specific example--surely the assistant principle would know?

when she has a question, you might think before answering to see if there's anyone OTHER than your DH who can answer that question.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: cwm on October 02, 2013, 09:19:28 AM
When she emails you, respond do her and CC your husband clearly.

"CheerCoach, I don't know the answer to your question, so I'm forwarding it on to Mr. GSNW, he's the person you need to talk to. I'm sure he'll get back to you as soon as he's able."

Do this every time. It will reinforce to her that you are not the person to ask, and it may let your husband know how many of these questions you're getting on a regular basis, so he may be persuaded to respond sooner. At the very least, they'll both be aware that you are not a middleman and will not be available to pass messages along.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Zilla on October 02, 2013, 09:27:59 AM
...if the team is responsible to support the Cheer Leader issues then I think you should ask your DH and relay the answers as this would be what a manager generally does.  If someone at a workplace asks their manager something, typically, the manager would then be responsible to find out rather than say "IDK, why don't you ask ...".

We're not responsible for the cheerleader issues.  Basically the only thing the teams do together is travel to games, and that's handled by our assistant principal.  Maybe I can give a more concrete example.

Question:  Do the girls have to have proof of insurance before they tryout, or only if they make the team?
Me:  I'm not sure.  Since DH is in charge of tryouts, he would know whether or not they have to have it prior to tryouts or afterwards.

Then she emails him, and when he doesn't respond in her designated timeframe, I get the, "I asked but he hasn't responded."

I don't mind her asking questions, even if I don't know the answer or have to direct her to someone that does.  I do object to her policing DH through me - I don't control his email use at work OR home.


If asked again, I would say, "I really don't know  That's solely his job.  Try emailing him again. " with a smile and walk away.  Whatever you do don't offer to remind him to check his email etc.  Keep a complete hands off on it.


But if your husband is normally slow in answering emails, I might privately tell him to please check his emails more frequently.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Slartibartfast on October 02, 2013, 11:04:38 AM
"You'll have to email [Husband] about that - it's not really my field."

One of my friends had to do this to me a while back - I was thinking of her and her husband as a social unit, so I didn't realize how often I saw her and it reminded me of something I needed to ask him about (usually for a hobby group he and I share but she has no interest in).  I had just gotten in the habit of seeing her and saying "What does your husband do with X?" or "Could you ask your husband Y?"

It stung a bit that she had to ask me to knock it off, but mostly that was because I was embarrassed to have been doing it in the first place  :-[
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: fountainof on October 02, 2013, 01:51:44 PM
I think it is interesting as a previous poster mentioned to consider how you would address it if the co-coach weren't your spouse.  Would you nag that other coach to respond, get the answer yourself and respond or just forward all the emails to the other coach to address and wash your hands of it?

I have never done such a volunteer position and you do indicate your assistance is voluntary so in that case I would just forward the emails with a CC to the sender saying Co-Coach can answer this.  I would limit any reference to saying your husband and just use his name instead. 
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: jibby on October 02, 2013, 02:20:10 PM
I get this a lot for DH.  I don't forward messages or pass along most things and I'm politely upfront with people who ask me to do so. Don't forward messages unless you want the behavior to continue.  Just respond, "sorry, but that's DH's area, wish I could help but you'll have to ask (or follow up with) him".  If they persist, give a sympathetic nod and change the subject. 
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: bopper on October 02, 2013, 08:37:48 PM
"That is a question for Coach OP...I don't want to be a bottleneck so it is best you ask him directly.  How are the cheerleaders looking this year?"
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: miranova on October 02, 2013, 08:45:01 PM
Hmmm...this one is tricky because I think eventually I WOULD find out the answer myself if the co-coach wasn't my husband.  If he wasn't answering his emails, I would feel a little bad for her having to keep asking and I'd find out the answer and let her know.  But I admit there is something about it being your husband that somehow makes the question more...irritating.  I guess I wonder whether she would even be asking you twice if that weren't the case.  Like, she expects you to "get him in line" and make him answer his emails or something.  And that's something I wouldn't want to be doing.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: FauxFoodist on October 03, 2013, 01:44:55 PM
"You'll have to email [Husband] about that - it's not really my field."

One of my friends had to do this to me a while back - I was thinking of her and her husband as a social unit, so I didn't realize how often I saw her and it reminded me of something I needed to ask him about (usually for a hobby group he and I share but she has no interest in).  I had just gotten in the habit of seeing her and saying "What does your husband do with X?" or "Could you ask your husband Y?"

It stung a bit that she had to ask me to knock it off, but mostly that was because I was embarrassed to have been doing it in the first place  :-[

I used to get this a lot when my mom and I worked for the same area of the company and I still lived at home.  People saw nothing wrong with saying, "Hey, when you see your mom, could you ask her __________ or tell her ___________?"  I flat out said no.  I said I keep a strict separation between work and home and will not cross the line in order to convey anything for them nor would I accept any information given to her to convey to me.  I stated that we were not paid once we left the company so it was unreasonable to expect us to continue working once we got home.  The people in my department understood this, but one of our area admins refused to accept this and told me I was being difficult.  I didn't care and stood firm.  She had no choice.  She actually asked me how she was to get some paperwork to my mother if I refused to be the courier.  I told her I didn't know but that it wasn't my responsibility to take care of it (seriously, not getting paid to do this and, given how much I hated working for that company and what shysters they were/are, I wasn't benefiting in any way by doing them any favors).
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: EllenS on October 03, 2013, 02:15:40 PM
Hmmm...this one is tricky because I think eventually I WOULD find out the answer myself if the co-coach wasn't my husband.  If he wasn't answering his emails, I would feel a little bad for her having to keep asking and I'd find out the answer and let her know. 

See, I wouldn't.  I would assume that finding out the answer from another source was HER job, not mine.  She can ask the assitant principal, or whoever, just as well as I can.

Now, if I A) actually knew the answer, or B) Knew or strongly suspected someone else might know, I would give her that info.  But I would not take it upon myself to do research.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: LEMon on October 03, 2013, 02:29:54 PM
Something caught my eye - if it genuinely has just been 4-5 hours (and especially if your DH works and this is during work hours), that may be something you need to address.  She needs to have an understanding that just because she wants the answer now doesn't mean she gets it now.  Volunteers have other things to do (like work) and will answer the questions when they can, not when she asks.

If there are other people who can answer her during the day, particularly people who are paid to do so, I would direct her to them if she needs the answer now.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: FauxFoodist on October 03, 2013, 02:31:00 PM
This story reminds me I used to have the opposite problem (at same terrible company).  There was a guy who regularly needed specific information from me, but he wouldn't call me directly or even ask to speak to me.  He would call my coworker's desk so he could talk/flirt with her and ask CW to ask me for the information (my desk was next to hers).  I would tell her then she would tell him.  I didn't think anything of it the first or second time.  By the third time it happened, I was starting to get really annoyed because I thought, "And you refuse to ask me directly, why???"  I said something to my manager about it.  I said I had no problem if he wanted to talk to CW but, then, make CW responsible for gathering the info as I thought it really unprofessional to not even bother asking me directly so that he'd have an excuse to call CW.  My manager thought it unacceptable as well so not only did he stop calling CW but he never contacted me for the info either.  I have no idea how they received the info after that but, at least, I was no longer expected to play the game of "telephone" at work.
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: Carotte on October 03, 2013, 02:55:34 PM
I personally think that she's asking you again (after emailing your husband but not getting an answer yet) because you are husband and wife and have a special psychic connection and of course if she asked him he told you everything and now you know it too.
Ok, that going a bit far, but she might expect that you too will communicate more often and maybe sooner between you than with someone else.
It's understandable if she emails on a Friday night and then see you first thing on Monday, like 'hey, did you husband say anything to you about what I emailed him last week?".
It's bordering on harry potter business if she expect you to tap into your husband's brain in the middle of the day.
So for every "your husband hasn't messaged me back, what's the answer?" you rinse and repeat with "I don't know either, it's not the kind of issue we talk about so you'll just have to wait for him to answer" or "I haven't heard from him/I've been stuck at work all day/I don't know more than you do"...
Title: Re: Tell Your Husband...
Post by: bopper on October 04, 2013, 10:29:20 AM
The other thing you could do is tell your DH that people are coming to you because he is not answering email for 4-5 hours...
You could ask him what he thinks about acknowledging that he got the mail and giving them an ETA on the answer?
You don't want people to get mad at you about issues you don't know about.