Author Topic: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance? - RESOLVED  (Read 3226 times)

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Mal

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At work, we are five full-time and two part-time librarians all crammed into one office. Last week we rearranged the desks and shelves and in the process, got a small table for staff meetings and eating our lunch.

Yesterday, we found an A4 sheet of paper on that table with a note from our head librarian, "Ellen":
"PLEASE keep this table uncluttered and clean at all times. Thank you."

This table has been there for a week. Apart from a tea stain removed the very same day, the only thing "cluttering" it so far has been a plate of cookies Ellen had put there herself. Plus, when we want to use the table now, we don't quite know what to do with the note itself, it gets in the way.

Basically, we feel we're being treated like grade schoolers. Ellen is not usually the passive-aggressive kind, so we don't quite know what to make of this or if we should speak up.

Has anybody been in a similar position?
If you were, did you speak up?
How would you start that conversation?

All I can come up with is "Ellen, why do you think the note you left on the new table is necessary?" and even that would take a level of boldness I'm not sure I possess.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 10:18:32 AM by Melle »

katycoo

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 05:28:18 AM »
I would just clean away the note and leave it be.

Sparkle Star

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 08:22:19 AM »
I wouldn't think it was deliberately passive-aggressive - more like a note you might get in a shared kitchen: "Please leave these facilities in the same condition you'd like to find them" sort of thing.

But given the team is so small, I'm surprised she felt it necessary to put a note out rather than speak to you all.

I'd agree that if it's getting in the way and you've all seen it then it could be cleared away - but perhaps explain to Ellen first what you plan to do so that she doesn't think you're being rude!
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Missy2U

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 10:42:02 AM »
I would just clean away the note and leave it be.

This is what I would do as well.

Shoo

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 10:45:50 AM »
How can you properly wipe off the table with that note stuck to it?  It's bound to get wet.  Wet note needs to be thrown away, right?

I'd tell the head librarian, "Your table note got wet and I had to throw it away.  But don't worry...we all have read it and we know what to do!"

TootsNYC

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 11:31:27 AM »
I wouldn't think it was deliberately passive-aggressive - more like a note you might get in a shared kitchen: "Please leave these facilities in the same condition you'd like to find them" sort of thing.

But given the team is so small, I'm surprised she felt it necessary to put a note out rather than speak to you all.

I'd agree that if it's getting in the way and you've all seen it then it could be cleared away - but perhaps explain to Ellen first what you plan to do so that she doesn't think you're being rude!

I think I agree here. If she thinks that this note needs to stay there, then maybe it needs to be laminated to the surface.

But I suggest approaching Ellen and saying, "Since there's so few of us, and we've all seen it, can we get rid of the note now? It's in the way."

I suppose you could all sign the note (maybe for humor write "My name is Melle, and I approve this message," the way political candidates do on commercials; or other sorts of phrases) and hang it on the wall nearby?

Hmmmmm

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 01:58:52 PM »
I'm not sure what you think was "passive" about her note or her actions. She clearly does not want this table to become a catch-all of papers, books, left over napkins from take out, Avon catalogs, and left over plastic utensils that someone didn't use but thinks the next person might like to have.

Since she is the head librarian I think it is fine for her to put the note there and for it to remain if it is her preference. If you guys are really offended by the note, I think you need to approach her and state that everyone understands her wishes and you'd like to remove the note.  If the table does become a catch-all then the note can be replaced.

I'd be no more offended by this note then I am ones that say "Please remember to turn off the lights before leaving the restroom".

It's just a simple reminder.

Yvaine

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 03:02:19 PM »
Is it possible that someone else made a gigantic mess, which Ellen cleaned up before you could see it?

cheyne

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 09:37:38 PM »
Ellen's note is cluttering the table.  My desire to have a perfectly clean table wouldn't allow me to leave the note there for long.  I would toss it, surely Ellen doesn't expect the note to remain in perpetuity?

Mal

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Re: A case of the passive-aggressive note-writing... in advance?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 10:17:59 AM »
Thanks for your input!

The issue has since been resolved: I went with a variation of Toots' advice because we happened to need the table and Ellen was nearby. I asked her if it was okay to remove the note since we had all seen it and we needed the space and she said sure, she had just wanted to make sure everybody was aware of it.

I think it was the "tone" of the note that had rubbed us the wrong way; it was written like I had posted, including underlining and bolding (which was done by means of a red marker) as if it had been an irksome issue for a long time and despite earlier reprimands. That's not the case.

Come to think of it, we do clutter our desks - mainly because it's often necessary because we do have very little space. Maybe that's why Ellen felt the need to "warn" us. But as I said, the table had been next to pristine before and it just felt off and out of character for Ellen.

Funny thing is, the note didn't irk me personally as much as it did my co-workers - I haven't been here that long (going on a year) - but I kind of felt responsible because I'm a sucker for office harmony :/