Author Topic: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down  (Read 5879 times)

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Mikayla

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2014, 04:27:41 PM »
I would have a quiet word with the other lady and say "Remember the other day when Boss scolded us for talking about shoes? I realize you were only paying me a quick compliment, but since that was actually the third time he'd got on us for talking about clothes I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't ask me about my wardrobe around any coworkers. Thanks."

If she does it again you can say "I'd rather not discuss that right now. So anyway, about the demo..."

I like this approach for 2 reasons.  One, it's a direct attempt to solve the problem.  Two, in the event there is some kind of set-up going on, it lets this woman know that OP is paying attention and isn't just going to become a pawn.   

I also noticed that the direct quote OP used about the shoes comment actually contained a question:  "Are they new"?  I've known people who used questions like this to keep someone engaged or force a response.  Besides, what difference does it make if they're new?  Who cares?  She may be phrasing the question purposely so OP can't just say thanks. 

It's tough.  There's a lot of dynamics that OP can't know yet, and this would bother me, too.




LifeOnPluto

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2014, 09:36:03 PM »
I also like the idea of having a quiet word with the other lady in private. Eg "Thanks for noticing my shoes earlier, but I don't want Boss to think we're getting side-tracked. Perhaps we should keep fashion talk to the break room from now on."

If she still persists in paying you compliments about fashion in meetings, I'd reply with a very brief "thanks". If she asks you a question: "Are those new shoes?" I'd make sure my response was very brief and didn't encourage further conversation. "Yep".

OK, I'm curious. Do the men ever talk about non-work related issues? Is there ever "Hey Scott, did you watch the game last night?" or other chit chat?


I'm curious to know this too!

AylaM

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2014, 09:40:03 PM »
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.

esposita

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 09:46:26 PM »
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.

I don't know, maybe I'm way off, but that sounds a lot more like a problem with him than with her?  :-\

Lynn2000

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2014, 09:47:07 PM »
I have to admit, the boss is starting to sound a little punitive, like he thinks "the ladies with their shoe talk" is some huge problem.

Or, if your co-worker often gets into fashion conversations with other people in the office, especially if she doesn't pick up on social cues as to when to stop, and/or has a voice that carries, maybe the boss is particularly irritated at HER for this continuing behavior, but didn't want to call her specifically out in front of everyone.
~Lynn2000

Another Sarah

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2014, 05:30:59 AM »
I agree, it sounds like this might be boss's problem.
If you don't have a work comment ready (and it can be hard to just come up with one on the spot), I'd just quietly say "thanks, (indicate meeting) I'll tell you later."

By pointing out it's the time to focus on the boss, you might eventually train her out of these comments but by not directly saying so, you won't put her back up.

laceandbits

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2014, 07:24:58 AM »
To me you are reading waaaay too much into this and taking it as a criticism of yourself which may never have been intended.

Re-read what you wrote (as this is all I can go on) as the way it reads to me is that your co-worker raised the issue, obviously loudly enough for all to hear.  You then replied with a short, polite but closed reply which honestly didn't invite further comment.   CW tried to extend the conversation and it was this extension which the boss cut short, not your reply.

Just because CW has been there a long time doesn't necessarily mean that boss is pleased when she makes off topic comments just as the session is about to begin, and at the very least the request for concentration was aimed at BOTH of you.  She initiated the OT conversation and was trying to continue it so to me at least at least two thirds of the boss's ire was aimed at her.  If over the many years she has been there she has made a habit of these OT remarks at inappropriate times, the scolding will have been to her, not you.  If previously she was the only female staff member she may have commented on their suits, ties, shirts - who knows?

As others have advised don't get drawn in by her in future, but also keep your dignity and don't JADE to the boss.  As far as I can see,  you have nothing to JADE about.

TootsNYC

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2014, 07:59:22 AM »
Quote
I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.


That's actually frequently given as advice for *how* to accept a compliment.

And interesting that you were -already- back on topic before Boss got all bothered.

Quote
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

Maybe then, this:
Ayla: You mean about doing xyz with the station? Yes, what have we done?

This points out, pretty subtly, that you were on topic actually.

Good luck!

Has it been a while since there was another woman in that office? Maybe the mention of shoes, or whatever, is new to him?

Mikayla

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2014, 01:21:52 PM »
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.

I don't know, maybe I'm way off, but that sounds a lot more like a problem with him than with her?  :-\

If OP is using a direct quote, it could be that he starts off with "Ladies,...".  When he talks to the guys, I seriously doubt he starts off with "Gentlemen,...".  He seems to think he has employees....and then "the ladies".!

Hmmmmm

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2014, 01:36:37 PM »
You said the boss and your female co-worker have worked together for a long time. And that co-worker is a self proclaimed fashionista. Do you think this is just a recurring joke between the two of them and he's not really concerned about the topic and is just using it as an opportunity to rib her some?

tinkytinky

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2014, 03:07:21 PM »
You wouldn't be rude or out of line to just say "Thanks, I'll talk with you about it at break!" with a smile. "It" can be anything, from shoes to hair to clothes to your weekend getaway. If you are working on a project you can add "can you hand the whosey-whatsit?" and just get right back into the work conversation.

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lollylegs

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2014, 07:41:25 PM »
Honestly, I think the fashion/gender stereotype is a complete red herring, and if you go to boss and complain about this or any other similar incident, you are going to brand yourself as even more unprofessional (in a whiny/immature way).  I mean, what you would basically be telling him is that you just don't know HOW to ignore distractions or steer the conversation.

I also think any speculation that Senior Woman is "jealous" or has it in for you, is unproductive and is going to undermine your ability to work constructively with her. It is far more likely that her personality type is not a great fit with Team Leader's, but she has proven that she can do the job in spite of that.  You have not yet proven that same thing, and I don't think it is at all wrong or unfair for Team Leader to be concerned about your ability to stay on task.

Team Leader = Lead the team, which includes running the meeting.  He did that, it's over. Focus on doing it right the next time.

This. All of this. Thank you for putting my vague thoughts into words.

AylaM

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2014, 12:46:32 AM »
OP here, thanks everyone!

I've thought on it and read the most recent posts and have come to the decision that,  as previously stated,  I will respond politely and redirect without further engagement.  I will also try not to take it personally otherwise, but will try to be sure there is nothing to correct in the future.  This decision stems from a combination of three things:

  • the boss does have a close relationship with other coworker and may have been teasing her, as  another poster suggested
  • I was once told that the boss is very direct and often comes off as rude or abrupt to "people like us".  I hadn't connected the two points until I read some of the posts here today.  It is not something I'd considered before.
  • I have thin skin and a problem with confrontation.  I'm one of those who start crying if you even look at me wrong.  I hate it, but I know I am.  I once began crying when a professor expressed disappointment in the fact that my work was missing.  I knew instantly that he'd looked in the wrong folder, but I started crying anyways.  I pointed it out to him and it was fixed in less than 30 seconds  ::).   There was no reason to be upset.  But I felt guilty anyways.  Once the direct/abrupt/rude thing popped into my head, I began to wonder if it was really as bad as I thought it was. Being as objective as possible, boss was still more strict/stern when issuing these corrections than I've ever head before, but I wondering if I'm not building it up a little in my head because this is one of few things that have been aimed at me.

So I am going to work under the assumption that a combination of "direct boss" and "thin skin" made this seem worse than it was, unless future evidence says otherwise.

CookieChica

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2014, 12:08:22 PM »
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

Betelnut

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Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2014, 12:53:19 PM »
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.
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