General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Immune to Social, Non-verbal, and Blatant E-Hell Cues

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Mental Magpie:
I put this here because this is a coworker, and I will even be working with him in my facility.  I seriously worry for his well-being as an officer, but that is not up to me to decide.  I mention this only because I am sure other people will notice that, if he is like this constantly, how will he fair with the offenders?  He won't fair very well, unfortunately.  Regardless, I won't be able to necessarily pull the, "Oh, I need to go do this..." to get away from him at work due to the work we'll be doing, so I need to figure out a way to get him to stop.  The problem?

He does not catch onto social cues of people not wanting to talk or listen to him; he does not pick up the non-verbal cues, like me fully turning my back to him, after answering him, to engage another coworker in conversation; and he does not respond to bean-dips, a la returning immediately to whatever topic he was previously on regardless of my attempts to redirect the conversation.  He also thinks it is absolutely acceptable to completely usurp my time.  I think it is rude to not respond when he is obviously talking to me (and I do mean obviously...if he walks up to me directly and begins to speak, I think it is rude to pretend he hasn't...if he is nearby, I can easily pretend I didn't hear him), but I don't know how to get him to stop, because I have tried everything I can think of!  Help, please, I don't want to talk to other people at work and I want him to stop talking to me all of the time!

Have you come right out and told him that you can't talk to him?  I mean saying something like "I'm sorry, I can't chat now, I'm in the middle of X" or "I can't reply to you now, I have to concentrate on Y"?  That would be the first thing to try. 

Mental Magpie:
At this juncture, I don't really have that excuse.  It was a 10 minute break between training and I was lounged on a set of bleachers relaxing.

Then again, would it have been rude (I think so, but then I'm not sure if I'm confusing mean and rude) for me sit up just as he began speaking to me, grab my binder, and say, "Sorry, I'm trying to study."  I think it would be rude because I am shunning him straight to his face...or is that just mean?  Even so, if it's mean, how can I do it nicely?

I'm so conflicted on this, because I definitely don't want to be mean, either.

If he's fairly oblivious, then be straight-forward.

"I'm not up for chatting right now, thanks."

"I'm trying to let things gel from that last session. I need silence right now, thanks."

"I need to do X, and can't talk right now."

"I need to change the subject."

"We already talked about that."

"I have to go now. Bye!"

Said with a pleasant tone of voice, but firmly, you're being assertive and drawing appropriate boundaries, but not being rude. If he was sensitive to social cues, he wouldn't be pestering. Since he's not, he's likely not going to mind very firm statements, either.

It's like when adults are hesitant to tell a child to go home, etc. Most kids really don't mind at all, because you're just giving them information and directions. When they hear, "Hey, Kiddo, it's time to go home now. You can come back tomorrow (or Saturday, etc) at X time and play til Y time. See you then!" in a pleasant but firm voice, they're FINE.

Being able to assert your needs and boundaries with a moderate tone and pleasant expression are really handy skills to develop. I use them a LOT. (And I'm not dealing with offenders, just loads of kids and an ADD husband. :) )

You mention concern for his welfare as a CO...this affects everyone else's welfare while on the job also.  If Clueless is trying to engage people in conversations at inappropriate times, when their attention needs to be focused on the inmates, it could cause serious problems.  In training it's just annoying; when you're keeping an eye on the TV room with 15 inmates in it, a distraction like this could mean that a fight starts or something worse.  He should get used to be ignored now, because that's what everyone is going to have to do on the job.


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