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Author Topic: Used it with an explanation  (Read 5908 times)

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Used it with an explanation
« on: March 13, 2011, 07:28:54 PM »
So, a bit of back ground first.  My family is not close.  Lots of fighting for no reason etc, etc.  My mother has NO filter and tells her co-workers everything that is going on.  Currently, my youngest brother does not have anything to do with any of the rest of the family.  I rarely tell people this, as I don't think it anyone else's business.

So one day, against my better judgement, I took a job at the same office as my mother.  This places runs three shifts, and I work opposite her, so rarely see her.  However.

So, I'm working away, making deliveries, doing my job.  I stopped in one office and dropped stuff off, and stayed to visit a minute.  I counted one person working there as a work friend, others as only co-workers.  On my way out the door, one of my co-workers  said to me "hey Mmirth, is your brother still not talking to your mother?"  I ignored this most inappropriate for work place question and continued on my way out the door.  Co-worker repeated the question which I again ignored.  There was a lot of conversation going on and phones ringing but I know that co-worker realized I was not going to answer her question.  My work friend however, did not realize I was ignoring this inappropriate question and said to me, "hey Mmirth, co-worker asked you a question."  Then I realized, everone was waiting for an answer.  Stupid me.   ::)   So I simply said to my co-worker, "yes, I know, but her question is none of her business, totally inappropriate for the workplace.  I'm ignoring it."  I then turned and left the room.  The look on my work friend's face was priceless. Co-worker's eyes bugged out.

This conversation happened three hours after the mandatory inservice on workplace behavior. All realized I could report them for harrassemnet.           


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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2011, 07:56:06 PM »
Since this is an etiquette forum, I think it could have been handled better if your explanation had been more centered on your preference not to respond, than to her rudeness for asking.

While you are correct in her rudeness, its rude to point out someone else's rudeness.

At least it was effective :)  And certainly not a terrible way to handle things.


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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2011, 08:37:41 PM »
I tend to agree.  I think I'd feel the same way you do about a coworker asking about private family affairs, but it would have been less harsh to phrase it as, "I prefer not to get involved in the family drama.  I'm sure my mom will update you if you ask her.  See you all tomorrow!"   

I know that some people would have viewed the question as a way of showing concern or making conversation, so it wasn't necessarily that they were trying to put you on the spot.   
"I've never been a millionaire, but I just know I'd be darling at it." - Dorothy Parker


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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2011, 09:23:53 PM »
I disagree with the other posters.  I think you did the right thing by ignoring the question, and your answer was direct and to the point when you were pressed. The irony that these people pushed the question on you after a staff training on what is appropriate workplace behavior is even more surprising.   I can see no reason for anyone to bring up such a question.  It's a loaded question designed to stir up tension, ill-feelings and drama.  It has nothing to do with the job, with them or with you.  It's feeding the drama,it's nosey and it's an unpleasant situation.  No good could come of it. 


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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2011, 10:12:01 PM »
Unfortunately, I think you missed a good opportunity here. Perhaps next time something like this comes up (and it likely will, as you'll still be working in the same place as your mother for a while, no?), you could instead be gentler and explain that your mother speaks for herself, and you speak for yourself, and that for your part you're not comfortable talking about family at work.

It might avoid causing a dramatic scene like your stark silence did, too.

Many of us are fine with talking about our families, at least on some level, in our workplace, and I guess I don't see the question on its face (assuming every single one of your co-workers is not privy to the coldness of your relationship with your mother) as rude.

Unfortunately, if your mother's as open as you say she is, they might also presume you're like her (I admit it's a glaring assumption, but if a mother and child work in the same office, I'm inclined to think they at least get along). I think you would be well-served by showing them that (a) you are not your mother but (b) you are a nice person in your own right and (c) you have your own boundaries. 


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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 07:38:35 PM »
I agree with Kaypeep. I think your response was perfect.



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Re: Used it with an explanation
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2011, 07:29:32 PM »
The co-worker asked an inappropriate question, but your response went further. You could simply have said, 'This is neither the time nor the place for that question.' or 'I'd rather not discuss it at work.' You may need the goodwill of that co-worker, or of one of the co-workers who were listening.