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Author Topic: But I just wanna know...  (Read 8220 times)

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Dahliahdarling

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But I just wanna know...
« on: February 25, 2015, 10:10:26 AM »

Hi everyone! Not sure if this is the right board to be posting in but here goes:

 BG/I work in a building that houses 2 different organizations, I work for "a" and "becky" works for "B". Our 2 organizations are not affiliated, nor do we work together in any way, shape or form. Since these are both very small offices (less than 3 employees each, becky and I are the only full-time employees for our organizations), we are often alone in our respected areas of the building We share a common area of the bathrooms and kitchen, so we see each other several times a day. She often comes over to mine to say hello, make small talk etc. I know she has expressed to me that she finds it very lonely working alone (I don't! I rather enjoy the peace and quiet!). I have come to dread her little visits to my office, because she is only interested in asking me either personal questions or questions about my organization, what my job is and how I do it. She often gives me unsolicited advice "you should really do it like this". She has never worked at my organization, nor has she ever held a position like mine, but still feels qualified to tell me exactly how I should be doing my job (she is quite a bit older than me, I think her intentions are good, to "mentor me",  but she is barely computer-literate, and has very little knowledge about what my job entails). /End BG

So I started using some E-hell suggestions! Like "oh, I wouldn't want to bore you with the details of organization A, I'm sure you've got enough on your plate with organization B. Bean dip?" or "I've got that covered, thanks for your interest. Bean dip?". Becky eventually became bean dip-prone, and would respond by repeating her question "yeah but why don't you do it like this?"On one particular occasion she crossed the line by saying "you need to tell your employee to do it like this" and I had enough, I said "becky, I am in charge of that employee for organization A, my employers are very satisfied with my performance and the only people I need to answer to are my bosses and my customers. You worry about organization B, I'd appreciate it if you stopped telling me how to do my job." She was very hurt by my response, and spent the next 3 days giving me dirty looks when I passed her in the hall, slamming her door, just pouting in general. I was still smiling and waving hello in passing, she was ignoring me. It was very awkward and uncomfortable.

Since I have to see her in the building every day, I decided to try to smooth things over to avoid the awkwardness. I went to her office and explained that I don't want any hard feelings between us, I'm sure she means well, I would just prefer to have to justify the way I do my job to her(I really wanted to tell her to mind her beeswax!). She was apologetic and also eager to end the little feud, and said "I'm not telling you HOW to do you job, I just wanna know!"..I was not sure how to respond so I bean dipped. ;D

So then the daily visits resumed: P. I assumed that she got the point about being nosey, and it would stop. I was wrong. She asks the same type of questions/comments as before, but now finishes with "I'm just curious" or "I just wanna know".  I need to find a way to tell her to mind her business, a way that will actually get through to her without hurting her sensitive feelings.

Have you ever dealt with a well intentioned but very nosey person? Have you a way to remedy their nosey-ness? I would love some advice :-)

lowspark

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2015, 10:27:46 AM »
I think you need to come up with a stock answer that you can apply to every question. So for example, when she asks, "how do you do xyz?" you say, "according to the Company A manual." She says, "you should do it this way" you reply, "I do it according to the Company A manual." She says, "you should tell your employee to do it this way," you reply, "I tell my employee do it according to the Company A manual." Etc. After a while she'll stop asking. It can be hard to do because you really do have to stick to it every single time even when you sometimes really do want to answer. But it's the best way to get someone to stop asking questions you don't want to answer.
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

EllenS

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2015, 10:31:38 AM »
Similar to lowspark. The only way I know to deal with a nosey, lonely person is to be more boring than being alone. And to say "no" as you did, when she crosses the line.

You could try, "I really need some peace and quiet now, to get this done." But she has already shown you that actually politely telling her "no" is going to result in a tantrum/grudge. You really had nothing to apologize for, and telling her "no" again is probably going to result in more of the same.

So, if you're not up to dealing with the tantrum, you're back to boring her to tears.

Mikayla

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2015, 10:45:02 AM »
I might get some flak for this, but I am not a fan of bean dip for situations that are likely to be repetitive or frequent.   It just postpones that moment when you need to be direct.

Honestly, if I was in this position, instead of trying to deflect what she says, I'd be trying to limit or eliminate the visits.  You don't say how often this happens, but if it's more than once a day, tell her that with the nature of your job, it sets you back to be interrupted.   Maybe you could offer to stop by her office every day around lunchtime.

Whatever you do, any chatting should not be taking place in your office.  Either find neutral ground or go to hers.  This gives you much better exit control!

greencat

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2015, 10:49:24 AM »
Every time she interrupts you, be busyVery busy.  So busy, in fact, that you don't have time for a chat.

Lynn2000

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2015, 11:03:52 AM »
I think since the topic of her overstepping has already been broached, you can now refer back to that. So perhaps you could say, "Becky, do you remember a few weeks ago when we talked about how I don't like being told how to do my job? I feel like we're starting to get to that place again, and I don't want to snap at you."

If she claims she isn't telling you what to do, she just wants to know, you could respond, "Well, that's how I'm seeing it, and you don't need to know. Now, I have a lot of work to do today, so I would appreciate it if you would let me get back to it."

Not saying this will entirely avoid hurting her feelings, but I think it's perfectly polite. She's the one being rude and taking up your time, so I think the direct approach might be helpful here.

Another thing you could do is channel her into certain parts of the day. Like, "Oh, I'm so busy lately, I don't have time to talk except after 4pm. Becky, please come back after 4pm and we'll catch up. No really, after 4pm." Or, would it be possible to lock your office door? Just various ways to get her used to limits, so she isn't dropping in on you all the time.
~Lynn2000

PastryGoddess

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2015, 11:35:17 AM »
Just because her feelings are hurt, doesn't mean you are rude.  Just because someone asks you a question doesn't mean you owe them an answer.  Becky doesn't like hearing no in any shape or form.  So unless you tell her exactly what she wants to hear she's going to be unhappy.  What's more important?  Your peace of mind or her feelings? 

All you can do is be tactful when you rebuff her questions/comments.  If she gets upset, thats on her. 

EMuir

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2015, 12:33:08 PM »
Can you completely change the subject? " Oh, I don't want to talk about work. Have you planned your garden yet? How are your children/pets/plants/pet rocks doing?"

GreenBird

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2015, 12:51:30 PM »
I'd start saying, "Becky, I really don't have time for all of these interruptions and visits during the work day.  Let's just catch up when we're in the break room / kitchen / common area instead."  Stopping the visits is probably the most sure-fire way of stopping the nosy questions, so I'd go for that.  Besides, even if she was constantly coming by wanting to talk about her garden, she's still interrupting time when you're supposed to be working.  Be really consistent about only having time to chat in the kitchen, and never while you're working. If she gets her nose out of joint about it, let her.  Just be friendly in the break room and my guess is that her boredom will overcome her anger before very long and she'll get over it.   

Onyx_TKD

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2015, 12:57:24 PM »
Every time she interrupts you, be busyVery busy.  So busy, in fact, that you don't have time for a chat.

I agree. Busyness is your friend here.

Betsy: "[Nosy question]. I just want to know!"
You: "Sorry, I don't have time to explain. I need to get back to work now."

If she questions the idea that you can't take a "break" to talk to her, you can point out that "You're asking me to talk about my work. That's not a break for me. I need my breaks to be an actual break from work so I'll be refreshed afterwards."

Dahliahdarling

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2015, 01:21:35 PM »
OP here!  Thank you all for the insight!


Just because her feelings are hurt, doesn't mean you are rude.  Just because someone asks you a question doesn't mean you owe them an answer.  Becky doesn't like hearing no in any shape or form.  So unless you tell her exactly what she wants to hear she's going to be unhappy.  What's more important?  Your peace of mind or her feelings? 

All you can do is be tactful when you rebuff her questions/comments.  If she gets upset, thats on her.


This is spot-on.  I think hurting her feelings might be unavoidable

Just to clarify my situation: Even when I'm not in my office, I walk past hers every time I go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, get my lunch out of the fridge, grab a coffee, etc. When she hears approaching footsteps she pops out of her office and starts gabbing. I can limit the interactions in my office by saying I need to get back to work, we'll talk after 5, etc. but the fact is the way our office-sharing is set-up, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these daily interactions. I would love to be able to lock my door to her! Unfortunately my office is open to the public :-( 

And really, the issue for me isn't how much of my time she's taking (she'll find a way to be nosey in a 3 minute conversation!), but the things she is saying to me. And it’s hard, because she’s otherwise a sweet lady, who has major boundary issues and is a little PA.

Since she doesn’t take a hint (no amount of bean-dipping, or the lather-rinse-repeat approach) works on her), I guess I will keep having to address it until she stops. I like Lynn2000’s idea of saying “remember that conversation we had? I wouldn’t want to snap at you again”.

In the end, my annoyance with her nosey-ness far outweighs the awkwardness I feel when she’s pouting. Thanks everyone for the perspective!






BeagleMommy

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2015, 01:45:20 PM »
OP here!  Thank you all for the insight!


Just because her feelings are hurt, doesn't mean you are rude.  Just because someone asks you a question doesn't mean you owe them an answer.  Becky doesn't like hearing no in any shape or form.  So unless you tell her exactly what she wants to hear she's going to be unhappy.  What's more important?  Your peace of mind or her feelings? 

All you can do is be tactful when you rebuff her questions/comments.  If she gets upset, thats on her.


This is spot-on.  I think hurting her feelings might be unavoidable

Just to clarify my situation: Even when I'm not in my office, I walk past hers every time I go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, get my lunch out of the fridge, grab a coffee, etc. When she hears approaching footsteps she pops out of her office and starts gabbing. I can limit the interactions in my office by saying I need to get back to work, we'll talk after 5, etc. but the fact is the way our office-sharing is set-up, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these daily interactions. I would love to be able to lock my door to her! Unfortunately my office is open to the public :-( 

And really, the issue for me isn't how much of my time she's taking (she'll find a way to be nosey in a 3 minute conversation!), but the things she is saying to me. And it’s hard, because she’s otherwise a sweet lady, who has major boundary issues and is a little PA.

Since she doesn’t take a hint (no amount of bean-dipping, or the lather-rinse-repeat approach) works on her), I guess I will keep having to address it until she stops. I like Lynn2000’s idea of saying “remember that conversation we had? I wouldn’t want to snap at you again”.

In the end, my annoyance with her nosey-ness far outweighs the awkwardness I feel when she’s pouting. Thanks everyone for the perspective!

I have stock answers for people who "want" to know but don't "need" to know.  The ones I use most are:

Federal law prohibits me from discussing any aspect of a student's record with any person other than the student."
That's on a "need to know basis".  I only use this as a last resort.

Maybe you could try:  "Becky, my bosses won't let me discuss company procedures with people who are not employed by our company".

GreenBird

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2015, 02:02:37 PM »
I think that deflecting her and refusing to answer questions about work is probably your best approach.  But part of me wonders what would happen if you started turning her questions back on her in a "mentoring" kind of way.  For example, if she asks about a spreadsheet you're working on, instead of answering the question, reply by saying, "You know, the community college has some spreadsheet classes if you're wanting to learn more about them."  If she asks about other procedures, you could say, "Are you thinking of looking for another job?  We're not hiring here, but you could check Monster.com (or whatever)."  Just deliberately interpret every single "just wanting to know" as her asking for learning opportunities, for which you redirect her to outside sources.  She might find it frustrating enough to quit asking you questions. 

Dahliahdarling

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2015, 03:22:33 PM »
A lot of people are suggesting to cut off the chit-chat during work hours, which is a great idea in principle..But she also chats me up in the parking lot, at the grocery store, etc.  all situations where "i have to get back to work" doesn't apply :-[ Also, its not the 5 minutes of chatting during work hours that bothers me, its the nosey questions and comments.  If she wants to come over and have a 5 minute chat in the morning, I don't mind exchanging a little small talk, I just want the subject matter to change..

Since changing the subject doesn't work, I guess I'll have to risk her being offended and pouting again by reminding her of the last conversation we had about these types of questions.

Thanks again everyone for taking the time, love this site! I feel like it is my "safe place" to ask questions on the internet :-)

Mergatroyd

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Re: But I just wanna know...
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2015, 04:08:39 PM »
 >:D
I think I would be tempted to make a game of it, and see how many e-hell phrases I could use in a day or even a conversation..

"Why would I do that?"
"I'm afraid that's not possible"
the silence

(Isn't there more than three? I'm drawing a brain blank.)

I'd also throw in a few others for responding to I want to know, like, "Curiousity killed the cat." "It is what it is, and that's just how it is." "If wishes were fishes beggars would ride." "How lovely for you, the only thing I'm curious about lately is how on earth they get those little boats in the jars."