Author Topic: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?  (Read 13206 times)

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portabella

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #45 on: July 27, 2012, 03:05:53 PM »
The first response that pops into my mind for such a question is, "I'm not the one to ask". If she asks, "who is?", my reply would be, "Well, the person you're wanting to know about.". If she instead asks, "why not?" my reply would be, "Because it's none of my business", the implication being that it's none of hers either.

Sounds to me like she just wants to be privy to some gossip. I absolutely abhor that.

Why do I get the feeling this sort of response might lead to the coworker approaching these people with "[OP] said I should ask you if you were gay!"?  :(

Because that's EXACTLY what CW is most likely to do.
The first time someone shows you who they really are, pay attention.

lowspark

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #46 on: July 27, 2012, 03:09:09 PM »
I didn't think of that. But it strikes me that this person is looking for gossip, and those people don't usually go to the source. But you're probably right. Best response to "who is?" might be to repeat "I'm not the one to answer that question, either."

Jones

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #47 on: July 27, 2012, 03:57:47 PM »
RingTail--Don't worry, I mix up similar words verbally all.the.time. On those particular words I had the meanings drilled into me as a kid and I still had to triple check before I dared say anything.

Regarding the nosey newbie employee: Is she the type to talk about herself all the time? If so, some mild questions referrencing stories she already shared could be some potent beandip.

TootsNYC

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #48 on: July 27, 2012, 04:47:42 PM »

OP - instead of answering CW's gay question, you might ask "Do you need more work to do?  I can talk to (supv) - there are several people who could use some help."


This is great--never answer; just reply with a different question. Preferrably one that implies a slight negative judgment, or is sort of unpleasant.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #49 on: July 28, 2012, 07:41:18 PM »
"Oh my goodness, what are you working on that you need to know that?"
It takes two people to play tug of war. If you don't want to play, don't pick up the rope.

deety

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #50 on: July 28, 2012, 08:38:21 PM »

OP - instead of answering CW's gay question, you might ask "Do you need more work to do?  I can talk to (supv) - there are several people who could use some help."

(Message:  I'm not getting involved in your garbage, AND whenever you bother me with such nonsense ;I'll see that you get more work to do.")

This....  This is staggering *genius*.  I  don't know what else to say.  This would apply to so many different things!  Talk about behaviour-curbing bean dip!

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portabella

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #51 on: July 28, 2012, 09:07:39 PM »
 ;D ;)

Works best when said with a frown (not a scowl, not a mean look), but appear to be genuinely concerned that CW needs more tasks to fill up her time - and offer to help solve THAT problem.   ;D  8)
The first time someone shows you who they really are, pay attention.

White Dragon

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #52 on: July 29, 2012, 02:09:49 PM »
This woman's questions are so out of line that I'm sputtering!

I just started a new job two weeks ago and I don't know anything about anyone - and I'm not asking!
I don't even know who is an engineer, tech or draftsperson and it really doesn't matter - I just need to know who to see for questions.
I'll pick it up over time, but I don't need to ask, so I'm not!

I was privy to a conversation that discussed traditions of the Purple religion, and it seemed pretty clear that both people were Purple (as am I), but I didn't even ask. Not appropriate to do so.

relationship status/preferences? So not going there!

I think the OP did a good job given the unexpectedness of the queries, but I agree with others that now that one is aware of this person's boundary issues, having a supply of non-responsive redirection is definitely wise from this point on.
The suggestions given so far are great.

siamesecat2965

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #53 on: July 29, 2012, 02:17:14 PM »
I think you handled things well, but she may bring up the topic with someone higher up or who really has no tolerance for those types of questions and commit professional darwinism!


ddawn23

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #54 on: July 30, 2012, 06:13:47 PM »
The first response that pops into my mind for such a question is, "I'm not the one to ask". If she asks, "who is?", my reply would be, "Well, the person you're wanting to know about.". If she instead asks, "why not?" my reply would be, "Because it's none of my business", the implication being that it's none of hers either.

Sounds to me like she just wants to be privy to some gossip. I absolutely abhor that.

Why do I get the feeling this sort of response might lead to the coworker approaching these people with "[OP] said I should ask you if you were gay!"?  :(

Okay, I know I haven't responded since the OP, and there is much to be said, but I just had to let you know this had me rolling.  I've got a mental image of CW, clipboard in hand, visiting each office one by one, leaving the occupants worried for my long-term memory.  As CW leaves they lean in and in hushed voices declare "I can't believe Dawn is having CW do this.  She really doesn't remember I'm straight?  She was at my wedding six months ago!"  In two weeks I'll get the shock of my life when they hold a you-need-to-see-a-doctor intervention for me.

Marbles

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #55 on: July 31, 2012, 03:04:58 AM »
"I'm sure as you get to know people, you'll find out."

RooRoo

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #56 on: July 31, 2012, 01:45:11 PM »
YummyMummy66 is right about her questions bordering on discrimination.

It would be a kind thing to tell her that, because it is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, religion and politics, those are all very sensitive issues. Then warn her that asking this kind of question could be misinterpreted.

If her response is "But I'm not a bigot!" tell her you know that, but HR and her bosses don't.

Then it's out of your hands. You've done your best, and if she tells people "OP thinks I'm a bigot!" that's easily explained.

You could even do it in an email, and cc yourself, so there's a paper trail.
"Someday we must write a book of Etiquette for sensible people," said Mrs. Morland, "though apart from a few rules it really boils down to an educated mind and a kind heart." ~ Angela Thirkell, Never Too Late

wyliefool

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #57 on: August 03, 2012, 11:03:32 AM »
--Give me a list of who's g@y!
--Why??  ???
--Bec I want to know!
--What do you care?
--[whatever response]
--Well I don't have that info on me but I'll tell HR you want to know. Maybe they can help.

 >:D

BeagleMommy

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #58 on: August 07, 2012, 03:35:46 PM »
What a bizarre person.  I love the "Maybe you don't have enough work to do" response.

Part of me wonders if the CW is single and looking and wants to know who's gay just so she knows with whom she can flirt (either way).

ddawn23

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Re: Coworker with boundary issues-- How should I have handled it?
« Reply #59 on: August 14, 2012, 06:29:55 PM »
"How the Hell would I know?" >:D
I know which of my coworkers are gay the same way I know which of my coworkers are straight.  I've met their spouses at parties and I've heard them use gender-specific pronouns when referring to their SOs in everyday conversation.

CWs questions ARE out of line.  OP continued to engage in discussion about the topic, which was a mistake.  People like this CW need to be cut off quickly and firmly.

Other than hello, goodbye, thanks, excuse me, and mandatory interaction I would not interact with this CW. 

In order to address this and other similar posts I need to tell you two things about my job.  First, the organization I work for deals with social, political, and religious issues.  There are frequent candid conversations about things like homosexuality, poverty, disease, and discrimination and their place in contemporary American society.  (While I am not directly involved in these conversations, part of my job is helping participants find relevent background information.  CW is both a participant and a helper like me.)  So while these sorts of discussions don't have to get personal, the nature of the subject matter can make it hard to stay completely clinical.

The second thing is that a sense of community is very important to the success of the organization.  Since I'm not directly involved in the aforementioned conversations I can remain aloof to a point, but not nearly as much as if I were, say, the groundskeeper.

So I guess the takeaways from this are 1) the kinds of political discussions that would be verboten at other places of business are not uncommon here, and 2) me having a strict 'business talk only' policy is not feasible.  Obviously CW was still way out of line to ask what she did, but maybe this will help you understand the context a little better.

Oh, and as far as flat-out avoiding her as some have suggested-- That's not possible for both work reasons (part of my job is assigning her tasks and part of her job is receptionist-type things like bringing me my mail) and geographic reasons, as she has to walk past me to get to her car and I have to walk past her to go anywhere in the building outside our department.  Silver lining: Our desks are nowhere near each other (not even within earshot  :D), and she shares her job with about half a dozen other people, only one of whom is ever on duty at any given time.