Author Topic: Where do I start?  (Read 3406 times)

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January Girl

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Where do I start?
« on: November 04, 2014, 09:41:19 AM »
I have an issue at work and I need some advise on how to approach this. It's a sensitive issue...I need help with wording.

I'm an office manager for a local company. I have 3 people who report to me. They are considered admin assistants. Tammy, Maria and Julie. All very nice, hard working ladies, however very different personalities. Tammy is outgoing, funny and goofy. Maria is shy, quiet and reserved. Julie is a loudmouth (at times) and everyones best buddy. I love them all for the variety they bring to the office.

Maria recently got pregnant. Her first baby and we were overjoyed for her. In her first trimester she got morning sickness in the worst way. We were all sympathic. She was able to finally get on some medication to help with the nausea. The side effect to the meds was gas. From the top and bottom. Maria was mortified. She would be reaching for a paper or something simple and oops! It was frequent. Maria apologized over and over. She even sent an email to our immediate team explaining and apologizing for any time it happened. It got to the point we told her to stop apologizing..we understood. She had a healthy baby and the gas stopped shortly after.

Julie went to the doctor and had a recent change in her medication. Lo and behold the side affect was gas. We all had a good giggle about it. We joked 'who would be next'. So as with Maria, we understood and when it happened we let it slide.

That's about where the similarities ended. After a while, when Julie felt it coming, she would lean or lift her leg a little bit. I knew she was trying to be funny. This is a professional office. Yes, we have our funny and goofy times. And yes, we are sympathic to things beyond our control. However, there is a decorum to follow.

I have to talk to Julie. I want to be tactful. I know (because I know her) she will say I treated Maria differently. Well, Maria handled it differently. Julie treated it like a joke.

I'm at a loss as to where to start. Help with wording?

cicero

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2014, 10:00:00 AM »
I sympathize with you - this would drive me nuts.

I seem to remember a thread here about someone whose colleague would act like a frat boy about the gas issue -you may want to look for that thread becuase there may have been some good advice there.

I don't know how much you can say to her about her meds but if this is a side effect from a medication, and this isn't a temporary issue (like pregnancy or nausea related to pregnancy are) then she should go back to the doctor and change her medication. (i dont' know if this is something youa re allowed to say to her).

If Julie says anything about how you treated Maria differently, you can say "Julie, we are talking about you now, not Maria". don't let her sidetrack you. And you can say "Julie, I understand that this is a long term issue for medications that you are taking. This isn't a short term issue and you are going to have to deal with this in a professional manner".

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SingActDance

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2014, 10:26:23 AM »
I wouldn't go right to a "sit down and talk meeting." Start by seeing if some pointed sentences in the moment get the message across. Next time she does it, raise your eyebrows and say, "Okay, Julie. I know it's involuntary but there no reason to make a scene about it." Hopefully she will get your point without you having to have a come-to-deity about it.
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Goog

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2014, 11:35:35 AM »
I wouldn't go right to a "sit down and talk meeting." Start by seeing if some pointed sentences in the moment get the message across. Next time she does it, raise your eyebrows and say, "Okay, Julie. I know it's involuntary but there no reason to make a scene about it." Hopefully she will get your point without you having to have a come-to-deity about it.

I like this.

You could try something akin to what I try with my teenagers: the old stern look followed by "There's a time and a place for that, and this is neither."  Of course, that needs to be altered slightly by the fact that she can't help the gassiness, but she can help how she deals with it.  Maybe it could be phrased lie that?  "Julie, I know you can't help the gas, but you don't need to draw attention to it other than the polite 'excuse me'."

Or maybe, "I get the involuntary gas problem, and we can deal with that.  But when you intentionally draw attention to yourself by lifting your leg....well, that's just not professional.  So please, stop the drama surrounding the issue, okay?  A 'excuse me' is all that's needed.  Or if you feel something coming on, feel free to excuse yourself to the bathroom."


Oh Joy

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2014, 12:41:29 PM »
How about starting with a casual 'It's embarrassing for everyone - how about we all act like it's not happening?' next time she adds physical emphasis? 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2014, 01:26:48 PM »
That's my understanding about involuntary biological functions - you're just supposed to pretend they never happened.  'Excuse me' isn't necessary.

I *never* say it when I pass gas.  I already want to sink into the floor and the last thing I want to do is draw more attention to myself.  And I say this as a person that when I get together with my brother and nephews, there are often farting competitions and score keeping on the SBD or sound factors.  But at work?  Not happening.

So I like Oh Joy's suggestion and SingActDance's suggestion.
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browzer11

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2014, 01:18:09 AM »
I may take flack for this, but I'll say it anyways.

Women and girls, men and boys, pass gas and make jokes.

Ladies and Gentlemen do not.

Goog

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2014, 08:52:08 AM »
I do agree that for most people, passing gas would be mortifying and they would do their best to ignore it.  I've done that the couple of times it's happened to me (with people outside of my family).  No way do I want to acknowledge that.

But it's obvious that Julie isn't most people.  In my commentary of suggested responses, I just suggested the "Excuse me" as an alternative to suggest for Julie so she can say something about it, since it's obvious that she wants to acknowledge her gas in some way.  So, since you know she's likely going to give some reaction because of her 'outgoing' personality, you're modeling the correct and polite public type of reaction (to excuse herself), just like you do with children when you want them to learn the polite and socially acceptable response to something.  Some might say it's condescending to treat her like a child, but hey, when you act like a child....

TootsNYC

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2014, 12:42:37 PM »
I wouldn't go right to a "sit down and talk meeting." Start by seeing if some pointed sentences in the moment get the message across. Next time she does it, raise your eyebrows and say, "Okay, Julie. I know it's involuntary but there no reason to make a scene about it." Hopefully she will get your point without you having to have a come-to-deity about it.

actually, if she has enough warning that she can lift her left, she could probably control it long enough to leave the room.

But I like this approach, because there's no sense in making a big deal about whether she should fart around other people. Focus on the grossness of making a scene.

And having had to have convos like this now and then, I'll say this:
Make it short.
Make it direct.
Don't allow for discussion.
Make it an order.
Say, "I need you to change something. You lift your left and make a bit of a scene when you are passing gas. Don't do this anymore. The best thing to do is to leave the room. If you can't, and I recognize how disruptive it can be to have to leave the room, then don't make a scene about it."

If she tries to make it  discussion, etc., say, "I don't want to have a discussion about this. This is an order, actually. I don't generally come along and be a bossy boss, but this time, it's an order."


Yes, traditional etiquette says you never, ever say "excuse me" for farts. You do for burps, but farts are considered -so- disgusting that one never, ever mentions them.
    If I felt I wanted to give a reason for my "direct order," that's what I'd say. And so if you're not, in polite society, even supposed to mention them in apology, it is certainly not polite to make them a joke and call everyone's attention to them.

Be short. Be direct. Be firm. Don't allow discussion.
You don't need her to agree with you, or to persuade her. Oh, sure, that's a useful approach sometimes. But....given her personality, and the type of joke she is making, I don't think it will be effective so don't even bother.

Think about it this way: She -knows- this is impolite. So channel your Inner Day-Care Worker (to get the calm authority you need), and simply tell her, "this is not the way I want things to be in this office. Please keep your farts to yourself, as best you can."

I like Goog's script as well.

GoodyGoody

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2014, 02:46:51 PM »
I have to talk to Julie. I want to be tactful. I know (because I know her) she will say I treated Maria differently. Well, Maria handled it differently. Julie treated it like a joke.

I'm at a loss as to where to start. Help with wording?

Actually, you are asking of Julie the exact the same thing you asked of Maria: stop drawing attention to yourself over this.