Author Topic: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!! Small update p 40  (Read 10451 times)

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blue2000

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2014, 12:04:13 PM »
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.

Oooh, Sherry sounds like loads of fun to work with!
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

GreenBird

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2014, 12:26:54 PM »
Well, once you've tried the direct route, and tried the broken record, if she still won't back off, maybe you need to go ahead and really snap at her one time.  Choose what you'll say ahead of time so you don't just completely lose it at her, but maybe when she's asking something particularly useless, let her see how exactly how frustrated you are.  Go ahead and make her uncomfortable one time and see if that gets through to her.  Maybe something like, "Susan, for crying out loud, will you just leave me the heck alone and let me get my work done?  I don't have time to respond to every thought that runs through your head!" and then walk away.   

Use with caution, of course, and maybe this is a bad idea at your work.  But if you can choose a time when there's no one else around, and choose what you'll say in advance of the frustrating moment, I'd be really tempted to just let her see how exasperated I am.  She apparently doesn't think it's a problem to keep bugging you; maybe you need to let her see that it is a problem.   She'll likely sulk afterward and I wouldn't respond at all to any of the sulking, but if she backs off it might be worth it. 

ETA - Maybe the above is terrible advice, and maybe it's not smart to go that far.  But I do think that letting her see that you're frustrated may well be helpful.  Maybe you don't snap at her, but instead just let her hear the frustration in your voice with some of your broken record replies.  She thinks all is well and her interruptions are having no negative impact.  Let her see that you're getting fed up and there is a negative impact, and maybe it will start to sink in that she needs to back off.  Or I hope so, anyway!
« Last Edit: July 29, 2014, 12:37:56 PM by GreenBird »

veronaz

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2014, 01:11:10 PM »
Tokens work with a cat?!?

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

No, but spray bottles do!  I just grab mine and kitty goes flyin' in the other direction. ;D

Lynn2000

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2014, 01:30:52 PM »
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?!?"

I think your last response could actually be appropriate--modified to be polite, of course! :) So if she has a "why is the sky blue?" type of question, you could look at her silently for a moment, then say, "Why are you asking me that?" Then she'll say something, and you can respond with something like, "As you know, that's not my department. Ask your supervisor," or "Oh, it's just a social question. Sorry, I don't have time to chat right now." And in both cases swivel back to your work.

Possibly, you could also try something like, "I don't have time to answer right now, but email me your question." If she decides it's not worth emailing, so much the better. If she does email it, you'll start accumulating a record of all the questions she asks you, that she should already know how to do. You can get around to answering the email whenever you have time, copying your supervisor if appropriate, and feel free to say, "You should already know how to do that. Look it up in the manual," over and over.

If it's something where, if left to her own devices, she might do something dangerous or cause a safety violation, you might have to step in for the greater good. However, I would consider that situation serious enough to go to my supervisor about. "Susan refused to follow the proper protocol to do X, despite having training and being reminded of it several times. I had to step in to avoid a safety violation occurring."

I will throw in the story about my former co-worker Emma for good measure. She was in way over her head at work and our boss said I should help her out. There were a lot of basic things she didn't know, got wrong, couldn't figure out, didn't want to try--everything from fundamentals about why we do what we do, to how to do things in Microsoft Office programs. It was taking up a lot of my time and more importantly a lot of my head space.

What I decided to do was set limits. For example, I said that I was busy in the afternoons and could only help her in the mornings, so if she had questions she should ask me before 10am and I would be happy to help her then. Never happened, because she couldn't get herself organized enough by 10am to get her big questions in.

For minor questions I would only answer/help if I could do so in less than 5 minutes, and preferably without getting out of my chair. "How do I underline something in Word?" I could tell her that right away, from my desk. "How do I fixed my messed-up formatting?" "You know, I'm not sure. Maybe you should ask the IT guys." Or, if I did go over to look, once the five minutes was up I would say, "Sorry, I don't really know what else to do," even if I did, and go back to my desk. It was all a lot less stress and time commitment for me, yet I hadn't ever said, "No, I'm not going to help you." I could say, "Of course, I'm happy to help you! In the morning, before 10am," or "Sure, ask away!... Oh sorry, I don't know."

In Emma's case she wasn't looking for attention, exactly, she really needed to know the answers, so eventually she stopped asking me things and found other resources.
~Lynn2000

PlainJane

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2014, 04:23:17 PM »
Tokens work with a cat?!?

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

RainyDays

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2014, 11:04:25 AM »
I would preemptively tell her that I'm going to be very busy today and to please only bother me if it's really important. Then I'd put on headphones or earbuds -- whether you want to listen to music or just have them for show is up to you. Then if she comes to ask you a question, let her call you a couple of times before you "hear" her. After all, you are apparently listening to background music and very involved in what you are doing. Most people tend to back off when it becomes really apparent that they are interrupting. Maybe she will finally realize that there is actually a better person she should be asking (or figure things out for herself!). And of course, you are still available if it really is something that requires your help; you won't have directed her to someone else for everything, just made her realize that not everything is important enough to interrupt you.

tinkytinky

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2014, 12:05:38 PM »
Make a pro-active strike and hand her a small pad of paper and a pen and tell her, "I am going to be super-heavy-duty extra busy today. I know you will probably have questions about project 'x' but unless they are an emergency, you need to write down your questions. I will have about 5 minutes at 11:30 to try to answer some of them for you."  If she tries to ask you before then, tell her "I can't right now." unless it is an emergency. Then at the appointed time, go over to her and ask to see her questions. Checkmark the ones that are questions for the manager and tell her she needs to ask them. Help with the very few left, and then leave and go back to work.

You may have to do this a few times, but the beauty of it is that when she asks the same question over and over you can then tell her "Remember, this was on your questions and I answered this one yesterday." and let her figure it out for herself.

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bopper

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2014, 10:31:47 AM »
I had a problem with a co-worker that was the opposite.  I was supposed to work with him and he kept finding ways not to do the work.   I tried stopping by, I tried making appointments, but still nothing.   So I went to my boss and told him what I had tried and he told me to "keep a log" of when this happened.  I suspect that he knew there were issues with this guy and wanted more ammunition.

So the next time she comes to you I would directly outline what you want. "Cow-irker, I have noticed that you keep coming to me with these issues that I don't know about because they are not in my area.  So I keep getting interrupted from doing my work, and you have to waste time asking me.  I would like you to ask all of your questions to your manager." 

Then after that keep a log.  If you have to talk to the manager, explain the situation and say "I wanted to accurately report how many times I get interrupted a day so I started writing it down.  5 times on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, ...."

misha412

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2014, 02:48:45 PM »
Tokens work with a cat?!?

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

No, but spray bottles do!  I just grab mine and kitty goes flyin' in the other direction. ;D

Spray bottles are EBIL!!!! EBIL I say!!! (Or so the kittens tell me when I point one at them). ;)

Softly Spoken

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2014, 01:28:22 PM »

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?!?"

Per the bolded - maybe you should ask her that, without the "bleepity bleep" of course.  ;)
I see it as a sort of rhetorical question or along the vein of "why would I want to do that?" Or better yet: turn and look at her and, with gentle exasperation and no snark, ask her frankly - "Why on earth are you asking me about that now?" Unless she is a complete flufflehead, she should realize that, oops it isn't the time or place to wax philosophical about the ways of the world or expect you to. Perhaps if she sees you are puzzled/bewildered by her questions, she will realize that you aren't keeping the answers from her out of spite or as a game.
OTOH, if you say something like "Why are you talking/asking about this?" and she just obliviously shrugs and says "Oh I've always wondered/just curious/just making conversation," then you could maybe try any of the following:

"Hmm, well let me know what you find out."
"I think that's what Google is for."
"That sounds like an 'after-work' question." (not technically saying you'll talk to her about it later, just saying you can't talk about it now)

The above are just me brainstorming and I realize they are pretty tone-dependent. I know you are annoyed as heck at her, but you haven't indicated whether you want to stay civil with her or be sharp enough to maybe discourage her from approaching you - but then you don't want her complaining to higher ups that you are unhelpful so it's a fine line. I'm guessing you are worried about encouraging her as much as discouraging her. A tough line to walk.

Good luck!
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-William Shakespeare

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blue2000

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2014, 02:15:39 PM »
Minor update - I almost had an oops!!! moment. She was quiet for most of today, but she was complaining to me that she needs forms for her job, and Manager One has not printed them for her. I was about to say "I can print those..." and then thought "Shut up, shut up!!! Don't say that!" I'm my own worst enemy. :(

I told her to ask Manager One to show her how to print them, and she said yes, she should do that. And then didn't bother. :P Oh well.

I haven't had a chance to talk to the managers myself yet.
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 #26 on: August 03, 2014, 02:38:51 PM »
The above are just me brainstorming and I realize they are pretty tone-dependent. I know you are annoyed as heck at her, but you haven't indicated whether you want to stay civil with her or be sharp enough to maybe discourage her from approaching you - but then you don't want her complaining to higher ups that you are unhelpful so it's a fine line. I'm guessing you are worried about encouraging her as much as discouraging her. A tough line to walk.

Good luck!

She doesn't seem terribly bothered if I don't know the answer to something. She'll just ask me something else. She's more bothered if I can't pay attention to her at all.

I can't be blunt and give her the impression that she can never come near me again. That would cause major problems. I want to give her the impression that we (everyone at work) are not her BFFs hanging with her at recess. We are co-workers who have our own work.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

shortstuff

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2014, 02:58:29 PM »
The above are just me brainstorming and I realize they are pretty tone-dependent. I know you are annoyed as heck at her, but you haven't indicated whether you want to stay civil with her or be sharp enough to maybe discourage her from approaching you - but then you don't want her complaining to higher ups that you are unhelpful so it's a fine line. I'm guessing you are worried about encouraging her as much as discouraging her. A tough line to walk.

Good luck!

She doesn't seem terribly bothered if I don't know the answer to something. She'll just ask me something else. She's more bothered if I can't pay attention to her at all.

I can't be blunt and give her the impression that she can never come near me again. That would cause major problems. I want to give her the impression that we (everyone at work) are not her BFFs hanging with her at recess. We are co-workers who have our own work.

I had a chatty co-irker once, who always followed the same tired script whenever she came to my desk: 

Her: Hey I know you're busy, but can I ask you something?
Me (naively thinking it was about work): Sure, real quick, what's up?
Her: Oh, well my ex-husband gave his stink-pile car to my daughter, and she's driving it and hear's a noise, so I told her to do this, but she didn't listen and now....what do you think?

And I'm like  :o  what does this have to do with work?  So I changed my response to her lead-in:

Her: Hey I know you're busy, but can I ask you something?
Me: You're right, I am busy.  I only have time for 1 work related question, what's up?
Her: Oh, well.... I guess you're just too busy, bye!  (said with much snark and sulking, but I got the desired outcome: less interruptions in my work). 

Perhaps you can adopt a new broken record mantra, saying "If it's not about work, allow me to please do my work."

greencat

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2014, 11:32:40 PM »
I have a chatty coworker who doesn't normally have any work-related reason to talk to me (and if she does, it's about something incredibly important along the lines of "The building is on fire again") - but she likes to have non-work-related conversations.  I am not always able/willing to talk and quite frankly some of the time she should be doing her job duties instead of talking to me.  I've taken to cuddling with my computer monitor, making sure I am obviously typing into a document/spreadsheet, and responding to her conversational gambits with a very short response and "Sorry, I've got work to do right now."  At that point I turn back to my work, because obviously the conversation is over.

DanaJ

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Re: I don't know, I'm not going to know, and please stop asking!!
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2014, 06:20:47 PM »
We had three co-workers who would interrupt another's work to ask for information they already had. It had been emailed to them specifically so they could refer to it when they needed it. Intead of looking through their emails, they would call (or worse, leave their desks to go in search of) the employee who had emailed it to them to ask for the information. They would always start with: "I know you emailed me this, but I thought it would be faster to ask..."

In fact, it was not any faster to ask. The employee who sent it would have to look up the information too, because she had dozens of cases. So her manager said: "Tell them you will give them the information at the very end of the day before you go home."

That put and end to lazy questions. They didn't want to wait that long so they'd take care of it themselves.