Author Topic: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper  (Read 8069 times)

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cookiehappy

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Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« on: December 06, 2012, 02:41:56 PM »
I’d like to know if there was an etiquette breach in the following situation.

I posted a couple weeks ago about the coworker I sit next to and her sensitivity to my lotion which, for now, no other conversation has taken place.  But today, she made several comments that kind of made me say to myself, “wow, am I a leper?”

I am suffering from a sinus infection, which I am over the best of it, save for a few sniffles and nose-blowing.  I’m not a honker, I discreetly turn away, bend over slightly and blow my nose if I can’t catch it in time.  Other times, I walk away from my desk and go to a corner and blow.

Coworker has made the following remarks:
“Cookiehappy, are you sick?” (I replied:  Yes, getting past a sinus infection, believe it or not the worst it over and I chuckle)
“Ugh, you need to go home.” (I replied:  I’m fine, not contagious.  Plus, I have reports to finish)
“I’d go home if I were you.” (I replied:  Well, I have to be here, I have work to do)
“Is there anything I can do for you so you can go home?” (I replied:  coworker, you’re making too much of this, please drop it)

EH, it’s not like I am hacking and spewing germs all over the place.  She’s making me to feel as if I can’t even breathe in her direction.

Now, she has taken to staring at me at the slightest sniffle.  I’m thinking of repositioning my monitor so I can face away from her.

Any thoughts?

Lorelei_Evil

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 02:45:02 PM »
I'd go straight to HR with this.  You're handling it well, but you've got a drama queen of a cow-orker so I'd bring HR into the loop in case things escalate.

MrTango

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 02:45:54 PM »
There's a word for what she's doing: Harassment.

I'd tell her once (and only once) that she needs to stop commenting on your health.  If she continues, go to HR.

NyaChan

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 02:47:04 PM »
I would just make sure to be as visible as possible when you take your sanitization measures like washing hands, using wipes on the desk, hand gel, etc.  That way people around you can see that you aren't disregarding the dangers of giving someone what you have.  Your coworker may be acting this way because many people simply don't care that they are sick and show up to school & work anyways.  Sometimes they ARE contagious and do get other people sick.  She has no way of knowing whether you are legitimately okay to be at work.  That said, she is being obnoxious with the repeated nagging, and I think you handled her really well!


For example, at Thanksgiving, my uncle and his family appeared to be fine.  I went home right before finals at my parents' insistence which was insane for me, came back and got sick - I had no no no time to be sick right then and it really messed things up for me.  I then found out from my mom that my uncle and his kids had been sick and decided to come anyways.  We had all been sharing food and camping out on the floor together (the kids, not my uncle).  I was very very upset about it. 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 02:50:02 PM by NyaChan »

cookiehappy

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 03:11:02 PM »
I keep a pump jar of hand sanitizer in the corner of my desk and use it often.  Others use it too as it is on the walkway end of my cube.  She's also seen me use it. 

Since I told her to drop it, she hasn't said anything further, just looking at me.  Which I can ignore.  But if she reverts to making comments, then I will have to speak with someone about it.

Phoebe

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 07:25:45 PM »
There's a word for what she's doing: Harassment.

I'd tell her once (and only once) that she needs to stop commenting on your health.  If she continues, go to HR.

I'd go straight to HR with this.  You're handling it well, but you've got a drama queen of a cow-orker so I'd bring HR into the loop in case things escalate.


It's hardly harassment.  What she's saying sounds just like people in my office.  She's sympathizing and expressing concern.  This incident on its own is not something to get HR involved in.  They won't take you seriously if true harassment begins.

Deetee

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 07:33:49 PM »
While she is being annoying, I would not call this harrassment and perhaps you could try a little harder to alleviate her (annoying concerns). If this is a sinus infection, is it not contagious? If you aren't ill, I suggest you keep repeating that "I am not ill or or contagious. I have winter allergies but it's nothing I can pass on to anyone else and I don't feel bad so there is no reason for me to head home.

siamesecat2965

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 07:54:54 PM »
this would make me crazy as I suffer from both allergies and sinus problems and asthma. But I don't really ever get sick.  I do however, cough, sneeze, blow my nose and am sniffly most of the time. I try and keep my noises to a minimum, but sometimes it just can't be helped.  yet i am nowhere near contagious, and if someone kept commenting on my issues, I'd be pretty peeved about it.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 10:24:28 PM »
While she is being annoying, I would not call this harrassment and perhaps you could try a little harder to alleviate her (annoying concerns). If this is a sinus infection, is it not contagious? If you aren't ill, I suggest you keep repeating that "I am not ill or or contagious. I have winter allergies but it's nothing I can pass on to anyone else and I don't feel bad so there is no reason for me to head home.

This coworker already has proven herself to be a pain in the back-side.

Deetee

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 11:49:24 PM »
While she is being annoying, I would not call this harrassment and perhaps you could try a little harder to alleviate her (annoying concerns). If this is a sinus infection, is it not contagious? If you aren't ill, I suggest you keep repeating that "I am not ill or or contagious. I have winter allergies but it's nothing I can pass on to anyone else and I don't feel bad so there is no reason for me to head home.

This coworker already has proven herself to be a pain in the back-side.

Yup, which is why I mentioned twice that she is annoying. But, the truth is that nothing she has done has risen to the level of harrassment or requires intervention by a boss. This is simply an annoying person being annoying who will likely continue to be annoying for the rest of her working life.

I think the best way to deal with such people is to be brief and receptive, but firm. So listen and acknowledge her concern. Address it. Then state your action and move on. In this case, she is afraid of getting ill. In the previous post she was afraid of smelling scents. Next week, she will be afraid of tripping on a cable and the week after that the temperature will be too high or low.

So here, you let her know that you acknowledge that she is afraid that she may get ill because you are contagious. Then you let her know that you are not contagious. Then you let her know that you will be staying at work and then you close the conversation by leaving or moving onto other work topics.

If she brings it up again, you do exactly the same thing. Acknowledge concern, Explain, State Action, Move On. If she brings it up again do the same thing, but get briefer and more firm.



hobish

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 12:24:23 AM »
I’d like to know if there was an etiquette breach in the following situation.

I posted a couple weeks ago about the coworker I sit next to and her sensitivity to my lotion which, for now, no other conversation has taken place.  But today, she made several comments that kind of made me say to myself, “wow, am I a leper?”

I am suffering from a sinus infection, which I am over the best of it, save for a few sniffles and nose-blowing.  I’m not a honker, I discreetly turn away, bend over slightly and blow my nose if I can’t catch it in time.  Other times, I walk away from my desk and go to a corner and blow.

Coworker has made the following remarks:
“Cookiehappy, are you sick?” (I replied:  Yes, getting past a sinus infection, believe it or not the worst it over and I chuckle)
“Ugh, you need to go home.” (I replied:  I’m fine, not contagious.  Plus, I have reports to finish)
“I’d go home if I were you.” (I replied:  Well, I have to be here, I have work to do)
“Is there anything I can do for you so you can go home?” (I replied:  coworker, you’re making too much of this, please drop it)

EH, it’s not like I am hacking and spewing germs all over the place.  She’s making me to feel as if I can’t even breathe in her direction.

Now, she has taken to staring at me at the slightest sniffle.  I’m thinking of repositioning my monitor so I can face away from her.

Any thoughts?

I am definitely a fan of repositioning a monitor. It's one of the perks of having a work desk where you can move things around to your liking. Seriously. Why would you not take advantage of that?

Ettiquette-wise... as much as i  like to use scented lotions at work it isn't polite to if you know it is making your coworker have allergy attacks.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 12:31:51 AM by hobish »
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Deetee

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 01:34:20 AM »
Ettiquette-wise... as much as i  like to use scented lotions at work it isn't polite to if you know it is making your coworker have allergy attacks.

In the previous thread (which I'm sorry I don't have the link to) , the OP wore the lotion once  and the coworker mentioned it bothered her and the OP apologised and never wore it again. The lotion did stay on her desk and the co-worker continuously mentioned it to her.

I think those were the facts. I'm not sure of the details, but I know the OP never wore the lotion after the co-worker mentioned the sensitivity.

hobish

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 01:44:27 AM »
Ettiquette-wise... as much as i  like to use scented lotions at work it isn't polite to if you know it is making your coworker have allergy attacks.

In the previous thread (which I'm sorry I don't have the link to) , the OP wore the lotion once  and the coworker mentioned it bothered her and the OP apologised and never wore it again. The lotion did stay on her desk and the co-worker continuously mentioned it to her.

I think those were the facts. I'm not sure of the details, but I know the OP never wore the lotion after the co-worker mentioned the sensitivity.

Thanks, i didn't catch that.

It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
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AngelicGamer

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 03:00:47 AM »
Here's the previous post with this co-worker: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=122692

I really don't have an advice, just a bit of time on my hands while I wait for a friend in Japan to answer an IM.  :D




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sweetonsno

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Re: Now She Thinks I'm A Leper
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 05:39:40 AM »
Turning your monitor to face away isn't a bad idea.

My guess is that she's worried that you are sick. I think most people try to avoid getting ill, and that means avoiding folks who have symptoms. It's great that you use the hand sanitizer and make an effort to move away from the shared space when you need to blow, but as you know, coughing elsewhere doesn't necessarily mean that a person isn't distributing germs. If she thinks you're sick, moving away to blow is only going to make her relax somewhat. I suggest appealing to authority in this case. Let her know that your doctor has assured you that you are not contagious. If you can give more information (say for example, "My doctor said that I was probably contagious for the first day or so but that I've been 'clean' since Sunday at the latest"). That's probably the most you can do to get her to stop worrying about getting sick.

It could also be that she's annoyed at your noises. (Understandable.) There isn't much to be done about the sniffling and sneezing, but if it's happening a lot (more than a couple of times an hour), I think you should try to manage your symptoms a bit. If the dry office air bugs your sinuses, maybe keep a cup of hot tea nearby so the steam is soothing. If you have a tickly throat, maybe slippery elm lozenges or tea would help. Maybe your doctor has a suggestion. If it's very sporadic (once or twice an hour), I think your current course of action is fine. Maybe get some earbuds or headphones so you can block out her comments.