Author Topic: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!  (Read 7133 times)

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Coley

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2014, 02:00:06 PM »
OP, I worked in a small office (5 staff) without a break room. There was a conference table in one room, but we weren't allowed to eat there. We had to eat at our desks if we ate in the office. I didn't like it one bit. There was no break time. If I was at my desk, even if I was eating, it was assumed that I was available for work-related questions. This was a boundary issue for me. It drove me nuts that my coworkers couldn't leave me alone for 10 minutes while I ate my sandwich.

"The copier is jammed."*
"Look what the printer did."*
"My computer locked up."*
"Read this and tell me what you think."
"What should we do about Client X?"

At a staff meeting, I proposed that we should allow each other to have a lunch break. We should be cognizant that when we approach someone who is eating lunch that they are "at lunch" even if they are at their desks. If the person is eating, ask if they have a minute. If they say no, respect that and wait until they are finished. Everyone agreed.

And you know what happened? The interruptions continued. Because that's how people are programmed. Sometimes they don't think first. Their matter of urgency has taken precedence. What I learned is that it's hard to change other people's behavior. You can only change the way you react to it.

I don't think it's wrong or rude to have a rule about wanting to eat an interrupted lunch. I understand where you're coming from. So, with that in mind, the question becomes how to handle those who interrupt your lunch. I would go with something like perpetua suggested: "I'm eating lunch right now. I'll drop by in few minutes to talk with you."

ETA: *And I wasn't even an IT person!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 02:02:41 PM by Coley »

meronym

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2014, 02:01:38 PM »
Yikes! That seemed really harsh and rude. There's nothing wrong with wanting not to discuss work issues during a break. However you can be polite, especially when dealing with a new person who may not yet know your preference. Unless someone's physically threatening you, throwing up up hand and yelling "STOP" is super uncalled for.

I feel like all you need to say is "I'd prefer not to discuss business during lunch, I'll come find you when I'm done."

To answer your question of "is this rule rude?" - of course not! Actually, I think it's becoming more common. I think people are finally becoming tired of being work-accessible every single minute and are actively trying to carve out personal time. You just need to be nice when you express your preferences.

perpetua

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2014, 02:01:52 PM »
Yes, I was rude, however, I'm pretty sure everyone in the building knows this quirk of mine. 

That is absolutely no excuse for how you spoke to this poor girl.

I'm really not a fan of the 'hostile work environment' term that keeps getting bandied around but this calls for it.

I would be making a complaint about you if you spoke to me like that in a work environment, whether it was your lunchbreak or not.

It is a quirk. While some people prefer not to handle work matters on their lunchbreak, they're quite willing to explain that politely. If you really can't handle that to the degree that you are this rude to people who don't know about it, perhaps you could consider having your lunch elsewhere away from the office altogether?

GreenBird

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2014, 02:02:40 PM »
I don't think it's unreasonable to want your break time to really be a break, where you're not talking about work.  But if you're taking your break at work, I do think it's a little unrealistic to consider it a hard and fast "rule".  You're still at work, with coworkers, and work will likely be mentioned from time to time. 

If most people are willing to honor your really strong preference, that's great (really great, as in, you should occasionally let people know how much you appreciate it if you can find a natural opening to do so).  When someone interrupts your lunch, I think it's okay to politely tell them that you really try not to talk shop during lunch, and you'll get back to them just as soon as you're done. 

But scolding someone like you did?  Completely out of line.  If you're so protective of your break time that you're going to jump on people like that for interrupting it, then you'd really be better served to just leave the building for lunch. 

Cherry91

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2014, 02:06:20 PM »
Quote
"I'm going to send you.. --- and I said STOP.

I think my biggest problem with this, OP, is that you didn't even let her finish. Even if she has a habit of approaching you about work related stuff at lunch, she could have been about to say "I'm going to send you X Employee's birthday card for you to sign, and this is the only time I can say to you about it without her hearing..."

I do sympathise with wanting to spend your lunchbreak in peace though. It's so annoying when someone comes over to you and wants to have a long and complicated conversation when you've obviously got a mouth full of salad/sandwich/cake if it was Friday or had been a long morning...

nayberry

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2014, 02:08:08 PM »
oh i've had coworkers like that.  i had to go above their head in the end.

at SmallCo i was senior in my dept due to longevity and sheer hardwork.  if i ate lunch at my desk all my dept knew its because i was swamped or had something extra the higherups needed done, so when i did go into the lunch room i liked to relax and read.
Babs refused to acknowledge that lunch breaks were exactly that, a break!! 
i ended up talking to her manager (who was a sweetheart!) and asking him to explain that when someones on a break its rude to pester them unless its a "the buildings on fire" type of emergency. 
he had a quiet word and whilst Babs was cold towards me from then on (no loss!) she didn't come down and ask me inane questions "when will blogco's order be processed?" (information already on the system we shared that would have taken her less time to look up than come and find me.)

she'd been there for about 6 months at this point and i'd asked her several times to check for herself and then if she couldn't find it to email me as i wasn't going to be looking whilst on a break.

lowspark

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2014, 02:11:10 PM »
I don't see it as a quirk. I think it's perfectly reasonable to not want to discuss business while on lunch break. But yeah, you need to be polite about it. I think the thing to do is let her finish her sentence (to see if it is, indeed, an emergency after all) and then, instead of addressing her comment/question, you let her know you'll address it later.

"I prefer not to discuss business on my lunch break unless it's an emergency. I can get back to you on that after lunch."

I think that you sort of already don't like this woman's work habits, as you noted, letting you know she sent you an email. Sometimes when someone you (general you) have a low tolerance level for does something that bugs you, you have a lot less patience than if it's someone you like more. I know I'm certainly guilty of that!

I think in your place I might go over and apologize.
"Sorry I snapped. I prefer not to discuss business on my lunch break unless it's an emergency and I sometimes forget that not everyone is aware of that."

And honestly, I don't see anything wrong with, in the future, when she comes over to tell you she's sent you an email, gently and politely reminding her that it's not necessary to make a point of telling you that, and that you will be getting to her email as soon as time permits.

wheeitsme

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2014, 02:24:40 PM »

So, enter newgirl (8 months now, so not really new).
She came into the break room and said Hi Goldlilocks.   I replied Hi.
She then said, "I'm going to send you.. --- and I said STOP.
She looked rather blank, and continued "about the XX project"
--- and again I said Stop.   I added - you can send me whateve you want and you can come talk to me after lunch, but you cannot speak to me now.


You know what?  I'm going to disagree that the OP was incredibly rude.

I believe that if you are in the "break room" you are on break.  Unless it is an emergency, why make someone deal with work on their break.

And newgirl decided to keep going after being told to STOP by a manager.  And it was only after she kept going that the OP had to tell her to STOP again.  And then she offered newgirl the option to send what she wanted and even to come by and talk to the OP after lunch.  Apparently the OP had to be very forceful and obvious in order to make it clear to newgirl that the OP's official break time is not an appropriate time to disturb her. Especially when it is for something as mundane as "I'm going to send you an email". 

I believe that the OP may have sounded forceable, but not rude. And it turned out that the force was needed.  And then the OP went and offered the newgirl a better time to speak to her.

OP, I don't think you are unreasonable at all.  Here's hoping that newgirl has learned something.

veronaz

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2014, 02:26:34 PM »
That is one of the reasons I move to the break room and not my desk.   I can understand people seeing me at my desk and thinkging I am working ( which I probably am), and also I cannot ignore a ringing phone so I'll pick it up even if I'm trying to eat. 

I just not sure that it's unreasonable to ask someone to wait 30 minutes until I finish lunch.  If I left the building every day for lunch, it'd be at least an hour that I'm gone.

Then you politely say 'Hey - I'm having my lunch, I'll come and talk to you about this when I've finished'. Not put your hand up and say 'STOP'.  That's just really rude - she isn't a child.

This.

And if the person continues with "Yes, but..."  - repeat: "I'm on my lunch break."

I also don't see where you being a manager or her reporting to a different manager have anything to do with it.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 02:34:19 PM by veronaz »

wolfie

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2014, 02:30:48 PM »

So, enter newgirl (8 months now, so not really new).
She came into the break room and said Hi Goldlilocks.   I replied Hi.
She then said, "I'm going to send you.. --- and I said STOP.
She looked rather blank, and continued "about the XX project"
--- and again I said Stop.   I added - you can send me whateve you want and you can come talk to me after lunch, but you cannot speak to me now.


You know what?  I'm going to disagree that the OP was incredibly rude.

I believe that if you are in the "break room" you are on break.  Unless it is an emergency, why make someone deal with work on their break.

And newgirl decided to keep going after being told to STOP by a manager.  And it was only after she kept going that the OP had to tell her to STOP again.  And then she offered newgirl the option to send what she wanted and even to come by and talk to the OP after lunch.  Apparently the OP had to be very forceful and obvious in order to make it clear to newgirl that the OP's official break time is not an appropriate time to disturb her. Especially when it is for something as mundane as "I'm going to send you an email". 

I believe that the OP may have sounded forceable, but not rude. And it turned out that the force was needed.  And then the OP went and offered the newgirl a better time to speak to her.

OP, I don't think you are unreasonable at all.  Here's hoping that newgirl has learned something.
It was also obvious that the new girl had no idea what the OP was telling her to stop and the OP didn't clue her in until after she was "forceful" twice. It would have been better to say "- stop - is this work related? I have a policy of only discussing emergencies during my break. So just send me the note and I will look into it when I get back to my desk" Then the new girl would have understood what was going on. I am sure now all the newgirl thinks is that the OP is temperamental and to avoid her if at all possible. Which might well work out for the OP now, but who knows what will happen in a few years.

guihong

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2014, 02:31:31 PM »
When I was in grad school and studying at home, I had a silly T-shirt that I wore that meant "Do not disturb unless someone is bleeding or on fire".  Even if I was in plain sight in the room, I was off-limits.  If your office environment has a sense of humor, what about wearing a silly hat that means "Goldi is here but not here"  ;D.

Other than that, you were abrupt.  You could word it like "Hey, I'll get back to you when I'm back at my desk."



Wordgeek

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2014, 02:34:08 PM »
OP has acknowledged she didn't handle the situation well.  Enough chastisement already.

Please confine your remarks to constructive suggestions on how to better handle such situations in the future.

Deetee

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2014, 02:35:02 PM »
I've worked with people who have a "no work at lunch rule" and it was fine. But they were always kind about it and would say something like.

"I turn off my work brain at lunch. Come see after lunch."
"I'll just forget it if I'm told stuff over lunch. I need to write it down. we'll talk later."

etc..
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 02:51:30 PM by Deetee »

meronym

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2014, 02:38:48 PM »

So, enter newgirl (8 months now, so not really new).
She came into the break room and said Hi Goldlilocks.   I replied Hi.
She then said, "I'm going to send you.. --- and I said STOP.
She looked rather blank, and continued "about the XX project"
--- and again I said Stop.   I added - you can send me whateve you want and you can come talk to me after lunch, but you cannot speak to me now.


You know what?  I'm going to disagree that the OP was incredibly rude.

I believe that if you are in the "break room" you are on break.  Unless it is an emergency, why make someone deal with work on their break.

And newgirl decided to keep going after being told to STOP by a manager.  And it was only after she kept going that the OP had to tell her to STOP again.  And then she offered newgirl the option to send what she wanted and even to come by and talk to the OP after lunch.  Apparently the OP had to be very forceful and obvious in order to make it clear to newgirl that the OP's official break time is not an appropriate time to disturb her. Especially when it is for something as mundane as "I'm going to send you an email". 

I believe that the OP may have sounded forceable, but not rude. And it turned out that the force was needed.  And then the OP went and offered the newgirl a better time to speak to her.

OP, I don't think you are unreasonable at all.  Here's hoping that newgirl has learned something.

First, it's quite common to address quick work issues while on break. I've personally never worked anywhere people were completely unwilling to talk about work during lunch. (Not that there's anything wrong with this preference. Like I said, I believe it's becoming more prevalent.)

Second, you simply don't shout  STOP at another adult unless there's some sort of danger involved. The co-worker is not a child and is certainly not a dog.  The new girl probably thought the OP was a little crazy and kept going out of confusion.

Finally, it's rude to cut someone off in mid-sentence. The OP didn't know what the co-worker wanted and should have at least get her sentence out.

wheeitsme

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Re: Do not speak to me in the lunch room!
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2014, 02:39:30 PM »

So, enter newgirl (8 months now, so not really new).
She came into the break room and said Hi Goldlilocks.   I replied Hi.
She then said, "I'm going to send you.. --- and I said STOP.
She looked rather blank, and continued "about the XX project"
--- and again I said Stop.   I added - you can send me whateve you want and you can come talk to me after lunch, but you cannot speak to me now.


You know what?  I'm going to disagree that the OP was incredibly rude.

I believe that if you are in the "break room" you are on break.  Unless it is an emergency, why make someone deal with work on their break.

And newgirl decided to keep going after being told to STOP by a manager.  And it was only after she kept going that the OP had to tell her to STOP again.  And then she offered newgirl the option to send what she wanted and even to come by and talk to the OP after lunch.  Apparently the OP had to be very forceful and obvious in order to make it clear to newgirl that the OP's official break time is not an appropriate time to disturb her. Especially when it is for something as mundane as "I'm going to send you an email". 

I believe that the OP may have sounded forceable, but not rude. And it turned out that the force was needed.  And then the OP went and offered the newgirl a better time to speak to her.

OP, I don't think you are unreasonable at all.  Here's hoping that newgirl has learned something.

Based on what we were told, I don't think the newgirl had any idea what the OP's "STOP" was supposed to mean.  The OP could have easily said, "Hey, I'm eating - come find me at my desk when I'm off break."  The way she handled it was confusing, demeaning, and unecessarily rude.

I'm not sure the newgirl had any idea either.  But when a manager tells me to STOP, I stop.  I might follow that up with something along the lines of "Okay. Do you want me to come back later?"  Not "I'm going to send you..." ---"STOP"--- "an email about xxxx project". 


Ooops!  SORRY.  I was writing my post when the Mod posted.

I do think that if you are given the chance, immediatly follow the forceful "STOP" with "I'm on my break.  I don't discuss work while I'm on my break".
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 02:43:06 PM by wheeitsme »