Author Topic: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!! Small update p 40  (Read 11116 times)

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blue2000

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I move around a lot at work, but I've been working in one particular area lately. I like that department but it has its drawbacks, one of which is that 'Susan' works next door. Susan is young. Very very young. Talking to her sometimes feels like I'm back on a playground, usually because of the endless inane questions.

Do you think Manager hates me? Do you think he'd let me do X? Do you think OtherManager would yell at me tomorrow if I did X? Should I do Y? Would there be more space for X if I did Y? Why do people buy so much X and Y? Do you think they feed it to their dog? Do you think everyone in Mytown has a dog? Blue, can you help me...Bluuuuueee... can you help meeee.... Bluuuuueee... Bluuuueee... Bluuuuuuuuuuuuueeee...

Aaaauuuuggghhh!

My usual answer to most work questions is "I don't know. You would have to ask Manager." That sometimes gets her to call him and ask him instead of continuing to ask me, but it doesn't stop her from asking me the next question. And she has to either call me over to her section to ask, or walk to mine and bother me for a few minutes asking before she will call Manager. She also needs help with the oddest things - sometimes they are legit, but sometimes it is things like opening a door or pushing a button. Something only a small child wouldn't know about - or someone trying to be Barbie. "I can't do that hard stuff. I'm just a girl." <commence eyelash batting>

I get the feeling that she's a little lonely and doesn't like working by herself. And I'm a convenient person to drag over so she can socialize. But sometimes I'm freakishly busy and can't afford to talk to her.

I've got the broken record going. "I don't know. I don't know. Ask Manager. I don't know." It isn't slowing her down much. I'm not sure what else to say.


(Although writing it out has certainly helped me see things better. I don't want to get management involved. It is kind of a nuclear option on our crew. But I may have to.)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 06:11:13 PM by blue2000 »
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

greencat

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2014, 01:09:20 AM »
I would suggest that you communicate to your management team that she is frequently interrupting your work, for social talk and for work-related questions that aren't things you can even help her with.  Ask them to clarify to her that questions need to be addressed to her manager and not to you, and further address that she shouldn't be interrupting your work and her own for social chats.

Deetee

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2014, 01:22:49 AM »
If you don't want to involve managers, I'd work harder on being less available.

So instead of

"Blueeeee, how do you get water to come out of the shiny thing in the sink in the bathroom?"
"I don't know. Ask a manager"

Go with

"Blueeeee, why are camels so grumpy?"
Very briefly: STOP your task, make eye contact, hold up a finger. Turn back to your task.
If she asks again, say very shortly "Just a minute."
Then turn to her and ask her what she wants. Listen to her question and tell her to ask a manager.

Basically, she wants human interaction and this makes it harder for her to get it. It also makes it very clear that she is interupting your busy work.

PlainJane

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2014, 08:27:51 AM »
My response is off the cuff and tongue-in-cheek but as I think about it, I suppose you could actually do it?

Make 4 sparkly tokens (sparkly is always better for a child!) At the beginning of the day, go to your immature co-worker (ICW) and say, "ICW, each time you ask me a question, you have to give me back a token. When you run out of tokens, I will no longer answer any of your questions for the rest of the day."

When she comes around after the tokens are gone, ignore her or have a spray bottle filled with water and give her a squirt.
(What?! It works with cats!)  >:D

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2014, 08:57:15 AM »
Tokens work with a cat?!?

Man, I gotta try that one, because the little fur ball can be demanding.
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lowspark

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2014, 09:18:37 AM »
Have you tried the direct route?

Susan, please stop asking me so many questions. I just don't have time and I'm really not the go-to person for most of this stuff, as you may have noticed, since I usually don't know the answer. You need to start going directly to Manager with these questions.

Don't wait till she asks more questions, just state it right out. And if she continues to ask, just say, "Remember that chat we had?" Well, anyway, the first couple of times. After that I'd say, "sorry, no time to help you now!" And after that I'd pretty much ignore her. Walk away, pick up the phone, concentrate on the paper on your desk, whatever. And I would absolutely never again go to her desk when beckoned.

MommyPenguin

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2014, 09:55:32 AM »
Tokens work with a cat?!?

Man, I gotta try that one, because the little fur ball can be demanding.

LOL!

perpetua

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2014, 10:12:01 AM »

I've got the broken record going. "I don't know. I don't know. Ask Manager. I don't know." It isn't slowing her down much. I'm not sure what else to say.


I agree with lowspark. It doesn't sound as if you've directly told her to stop asking you questions or to stop interrupting you and somewhere along the line she's got the idea that you're the go-to person for, well, anything, so, the 'what else to say' is to be blunt and tell her that she's not to bother you with questions any more. She's not going to slow down until you tell her that. She thinks you're the go-to person who just doesn't know the answer to the particular question she just asked, and she hasn't connected the dots yet that you're not the person to ask, full stop.

bopper

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2014, 10:35:24 AM »
'Gee Blue, you seem to be having problems with the most basic tasks.  Are you sure this is the job for you?"

"Blue, do you want me to talk to your manager about getting extra training?"

"Blue, every time you ask me a question, I tell you to call your manager because I don't know the specifics of your job.  Let's skip the part where you ask me.  Just call your manager first."

Make it so she doesn't want to talk to you.

GreenBird

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2014, 11:01:29 AM »
I would first keep a log of all of her interruptions for a few days.  This way, once you start telling Susan "no", if she goes to her manager and says "Bluuuuuuue won't heeelllppp meeeee!!!!" you can authoritatively say Susan was interrupting you 17 times a day asking about a,b,c which aren't your job, and x,y,z which are utterly basic job skills she should already have. 

Once you've got a few days logged, it's time to start clearly telling her to knock it off:   

"Susan, I really don't have time for all of these interruptions.  If you need additional training, go ask your manager."

"Susan, I'm trying to work here and I don't have time for all of these interruptions.  If you can't figure it out, go ask your manager."

"Susan, I don't have time for all of these interruptions and I'm not even the right person to ask.  Go talk to your manager."

"Susan, please go ask your manager and leave me alone.  I've got my own work to do."

She sounds exhausting!  Hopefully a broken record of "I don't have time for your interruptions" instead of "I don't know" will shut her down and/or redirect her to someone else to pester.  And in case someone says you're not being a team player because you're not constantly 'helping' her, your log will demonstrate that she's the one who is way out of line and disrupting your work.

lowspark

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2014, 11:23:54 AM »
Honestly, I'd find it exhausting to keep a log. As a supervisor, if an employee came to me with a log like this, I'd have to wonder if the employee herself didn't have enough to keep busy if she felt the best use of her time was keeping a record of questions asked by a coworker.

I don't think you have to have detailed examples if you choose to take this up a level. You just give general types of questions asked, mention the fact that you've repeated the same answers and they don't seem to be getting through and that you would like the interruptions to stop.

But again, I so often feel that the direct route is the best one and that the next step should only be taken if the direct approach has failed.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2014, 11:42:32 AM »
Years ago, a new hire was asking procedural questions of the person who had held the job before her.

Finally, Nan went to the supervisor and laid it out.  "Sherry has had this job now one year to the day.  And she is still asking me questions on a daily basis.  By now, the few times the question does not concern something that I have already told her, it is because the situation is so unusual that I have no idea."

Supervisor went to Sherry and said that since Nan now worked in a different department, it was best if Sherry directed her questions directly to the Supervisor.  Basically, questions stopped, to be replaced with complaints that we were all unfriendly.  Supervisor told her that everyone needed to be polite and professional, and that was all that was required.

Sherry quit without notice about a month later.
I have enough lithium in my medicine cabinet to power three cars across a sizeable desert.  Which makes me officially...Three Cars Crazy

GreenBird

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2014, 11:46:42 AM »
The log wouldn't have to be excruciatingly detailed - you could even just make a check mark for every interruption, and then at the end of the day write a few notes on the types of questions she asked.  I just think it's more powerful to be able to say, "Actually, I kept count one day, and she interrupted me 17 times" instead of just saying "She interrupts me a lot".  One is a concrete example, and the other is more easily dismissed as 'you're annoyed so it just feels like she bugs you all the time but it can't really be that bad'. 

blue2000

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2014, 11:57:49 AM »

I've got the broken record going. "I don't know. I don't know. Ask Manager. I don't know." It isn't slowing her down much. I'm not sure what else to say.


I agree with lowspark. It doesn't sound as if you've directly told her to stop asking you questions or to stop interrupting you and somewhere along the line she's got the idea that you're the go-to person for, well, anything, so, the 'what else to say' is to be blunt and tell her that she's not to bother you with questions any more. She's not going to slow down until you tell her that. She thinks you're the go-to person who just doesn't know the answer to the particular question she just asked, and she hasn't connected the dots yet that you're not the person to ask, full stop.

The trouble is, I am the person to ask - for some things. If she cannot lift something because it is too heavy, she is expected to ask the nearest person to help her. That's me, most of the time. If she cannot get the computer to work, I know how to do that and I'm right next to her.

But there is a big difference between not being able to lift something and calling me over, and refusing to lift it or refusing to call the guys in the back to help (the door to the back is the same distance from her as I am, and they have power equipment to lift stuff, dagnabbit!).

And of course, I'm not the go-to person for "why is the sky blue?" either. I'm looking for phrases other than my mental reaction of "Why the <bleepity bleep> are you asking me?!?"

Have you tried the direct route?

Susan, please stop asking me so many questions. I just don't have time and I'm really not the go-to person for most of this stuff, as you may have noticed, since I usually don't know the answer. You need to start going directly to Manager with these questions.

Don't wait till she asks more questions, just state it right out. And if she continues to ask, just say, "Remember that chat we had?" Well, anyway, the first couple of times. After that I'd say, "sorry, no time to help you now!" And after that I'd pretty much ignore her. Walk away, pick up the phone, concentrate on the paper on your desk, whatever. And I would absolutely never again go to her desk when beckoned.

I may go with that. A blanket policy of "that's not my department" might help. I might still have to get the OK from the manager to refuse to help her.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

blue2000

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2014, 12:02:34 PM »
I would first keep a log of all of her interruptions for a few days.  This way, once you start telling Susan "no", if she goes to her manager and says "Bluuuuuuue won't heeelllppp meeeee!!!!" you can authoritatively say Susan was interrupting you 17 times a day asking about a,b,c which aren't your job, and x,y,z which are utterly basic job skills she should already have. 


She probably won't complain that much to other people. Just me. "Blue, I need help! Blue, why won't you help me? Blue! Blue! Blue!"

Yeah, I'm lucky that way. :P
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.