Tag Archives: work

My team at work had a meeting the other day, and we were discussing some ideas to present on a conference call with our boss’s boss. I had a terrific idea, we were all excited, and agreed that it was our best strategy. When the time came for the conference call…you guessed it…my coworker “Judy” completely stole my idea and presented it as her own! She was being dodgy about making eye contact for the rest of the call, and no one else on my team spoke up to defend me. I’m so angry, disillusioned, and hurt that she would do this to me, and that no one would back me up. It’s really depressing and now I hate going to work every day.

That a-hole exists in every office, in every company, in every city in this country. Possibly the world.

Confronting Judy about her dickishness is going to do nothing. Neither will asking her why she did it, yelling at her that you’re going you get back at her some day, or making voodoo dolls and stabbing them in the brain with ice picks. I think it’s okay to say to her, very calmly, “Judy, I don’t appreciate you presenting my idea as your own. Don’t do it again.”

I like to say stuff like this and then run away without giving the person an opportunity to respond. Really, you’re not interested in what she has to say, anyway. After that, carry on as if it never happened.

In the future, at your team meetings, announce all the shitty ideas you’ve ever had and act like they’re totally awesome. When the conference call comes and Judy The Idea Stealer mentions one of them, shoot her down. Being completely nice and professional about it, give all the reasons why her idea sucks, and then present your own, which will be much, much better.

This, of course, requires that you be prepared. So keep doing your work, be pleasant to her, and resist the temptation to give her a Joe Pesci-style fingers-to-eyes-I’m-watching-you gesture. Out-psychoing someone never works.

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Would you like a copy of my tax return?

My husband is unemployed right now and I’m a stay-at-home-mom. When people ask where my husband works, sometimes I say, “Nowhere,” and sometimes I say, “He used to work as an accountant but got laid off in January.” Neither response seems to fend off the next question, which I hate, which is, “How are you paying for things?” or “Do you have a lot of money saved up?” or “What are you going to do if he doesn’t get another job?” Even when posed with the best of intentions, these questions seem rude and prying and I wish there were a way to prevent them from being asked.

Oh, come on. This is awesome! It presents so many opportunities for messing with people. If you can maintain a straight face during the delivery, I have some ideas for you.

1. He’s been pimping me out at the 7-11 on Saturday nights. It’s been nice because we get a babysitter and go out for a drink afterward, and it’s become a great date night for us.

2. My parents “accidentally” (finger quotes are perfect here) passed away and I inherited some money.

3. We’ve been stealing prescription drugs from peoples’ medicine cabinets at parties and selling them to the teenager who lives next door.

4. We started a Ponzi scheme. (Pause for a second.) By the way, I heard about an amazing investment opportunity the other day…are you interested?

5. We pretend on Craigslist to have a baby available for adoption, then we skip town with the money that parents give us for medical expenses. Hopefully he’ll find another job before the money from that dries up!

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Work is fun because I meet boys there!

“Bob” and I dated for a while, and now “Tom” and I are dating. The breakup with Bob was mutual; Tom and I are having a great time getting to know each other. The problem is that we all work together, and I think Bob is starting to have some bad feelings about me dating Tom. I don’t know if he’s jealous, or territorial, or what, but I do like him and want him to be happy. Should I have said something to Bob before Tom and I made our relationship public? Did I breach some protocol here?

You’re allowed to date any man you please, but that’s not the problem here.

Stop dating people from work. I’m all for office romances; they’ve produced some of the most delightful couples I know. But your office isn’t your own personal dating service; the break room isn’t a pickup joint. I know it’s not fair, and it’s not right, and it shouldn’t be this way, but a woman taking the part of the company Casanova is not going to do the same things for your career that it might for a guy. It’s easy to get another boyfriend, but not so much another job.

Your private life is your business, but the minute you start skipping through the office halls holding hands with the second guy as many weeks, you might want to reconsider. If you think Tom is the love of your life, then fine, go for it. Don’t worry, Bob will get over it. But if it doesn’t work out, no more fishing in the company pond. No more.

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How to not make friends and not influence anybody.

My wife’s brother’s wife is a [insert offensive name for the female anatomy]. I hate her.  Never liked her.  She and I are in similar business, so I called and asked if she could introduce me to her boss.  She said she would talk to him about it. Days went by and she didn’t get back to me.  I sent her an email that said, “Maybe you could just give me his name, and I will go about it myself by sending him an email.”

She wrote back saying that her boss said “No [insert f-bomb] way do i want to talk to anyone.”  Professional people do not say this about someone that they do not know.  He does not know me at all, has never heard of me, and has no reason to think ill of me.  That said:

1.  I don’t believe she spoke to him.
2.  If she did, I am completely sure she didn’t do my story justice at all because she is mildly [insert offensive name for developmentally disabled people].

So I asked again if I could just get his name and I would find a way to just call him myself.  She wrote back that she is completely uncomfortable with that because she knows her boss hates solicitation.   Of course, I could get the name off the company website, but she said that she would help… how would I know she would go psycho.

So I replied, “Thanks.  I will remember this when you ask me for something.” Now of course, everyone in the family is mad at me. They know she is a fruitcake, but think I should massage her to keep the peace.  I am tired of being the peace keeper.  If someone is an asshole, can’t I just say, “You are an asshole?” Seriously, do I have to be nice to someone who is going out of the way to be an asshole?  My wife says to be nice because she’s family.

You asked a favor of someone you hate, and have never liked. Based on your sweet letter, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, but my excellent intuition tells me she’s not such a fan of yours, either.

She skirted around doing the favor and tried, gracefully, to not do it for you, but you kept asking. This made her feel (if she is lying) like she had to keep making up excuses. Finally, she just said no, and then, wait…who went psycho?

That brings us to your next question…no, you don’t have to be nice to someone who is going out of their way to be unpleasant. But for whatever reason, your sister-in-law was trying.

And your wife is right. Especially because it’s her family, not yours. Terrorize your own family all you want, but try to make things easier for your poor wife.

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Sometimes you just have to be a corporate a-hole.

I have a good friend who works in a different department of my company. We started off in the same role, but over the years have moved into totally different positions — mine a bit senior to hers. We have drinks and lunch regularly, and do our fair share of gossip. I’ve heard recently — and the volume of the rumor is getting stronger — that her department is going to have some major cuts made in the coming quarter. From what I can tell after our last get-together, she has no idea. As a corporate person, I feel like I should put a sock in it. But as a friend to a person with a pretty tight budget, I feel like a jerk not giving her even a hint. I don’t want to risk it coming back to me, though.  What do you think I should do?

I think you should keep your trap shut. It’s not like the CEO sat you down and told you that they’re laying people off. You said it yourself: it’s a rumor.

The reason I floundered so brilliantly at a professional career that required going to an office is that I often forgot the real reason I was going to said office: to work. I got stuff done, but at three times the volume and half the pace. I had more fun talking to people and listening to what they had to say about our colleagues than I did with my actual job. (Helpful tip: if you don’t want just a cubicle, you can get a real office with a door by having a voice like a foghorn and a laugh like a dolphin who just sucked helium. It worked for me!)

Being the office gossip isn’t a good role, but being completely oblivious to what’s going on around you is just as bad. Your friend is in a position where people don’t tell her things, and she doesn’t have anyone to ask. Since you’re in a slightly senior position, what you’re hearing might not have trickled down quite yet…but you’re not the person who should be doing the trickling. Imagine the scenario if you told her, and she asked someone about it.  She’d go talk to someone else, and say, “Judy said our department is going to be cut in half.” Uh-oh, Judy. Now you seem like you can’t be trusted.

If you had to choose between yourself having a job and your friend having a job, I hope you’d choose yourself. What you can do is have a general talk with her about your industry and how crappily it’s faring as a whole, and mention that you’ve been saving a little in case you were to unexpectedly lose your job. (p.s. If your company is making cuts, you should be!)

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I work really hard and my spouse is at home watching Oprah and eating bon bons all day.

I work full-time and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. When I come home at the end of the day, the house is a mess, the kids are fighting, the TV is always on, and he’s in the worst mood. We decided that I would work and he would stay home because it made the most economic sense, but I resent having to clean up the messes they made during the day, and I feel like he could make a better effort to entertain the kids. We fight all the time and our relationship really sucks right now.

If you were a man, I’d go find you and scratch your eyes out. Then I’d put them back in so you could see me yelling at you about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.

Since I feel some solidarity with the ladies, there will be no eye-scratching, but there will be yelling. BEING A STAY-AT-HOME PARENT IS HARD. My poor husband used to come home from work to find all three of us crying. I regularly presented him with the home-cooked delicacy of defrosted chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes, I was still in my pajamas. It was totally hot.

Babies are difficult, and being with them all day can make a person crazy. Cut him some slack, and consider this: you come home after a shitty day of pressure and stress and 27 conference calls that accomplished absolutely zero, and you’re worried about making your commission this month, and you’re all pissed off that your assistant forgot to send that important email and your boss yelled at you for 20 minutes about it. You need a break. Your husband was puked on by the cat, the two-year-old, and the two-year-old’s friend who came over for a playdate. Then, the dishwasher leaked all over the kitchen floor and while he was cleaning it up, the baby crawled under the kitchen sink which was left open in your husband’s haste to find a sponge. The baby might or might not have drank some Lysol, so while your husband is mopping up soapy water, he’s on the phone with poison control, trying to keep the toddler from tracking water all over the house, and keeping an eye on the baby to make sure it doesn’t suddenly collapse from drinking a toxic substance. He needs a break.

Unfortunately, children don’t allow you to take breaks. I think you both need to lay out your expectations of what your own responsibilities should be and what you think the other person should be taking care of. If they don’t match up, figure out how you can get in sync. I’m not talking about some anal-retentive list where you’re each doing exactly 1.3 loads of laundry a day; I think it needs to be more fluid. The strain on your relationship is coming from finger-pointing and blaming and misplaced expectations. Figure out what needs to be done, and figure out who’s going to do it, and I think it’ll be less stressful.

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I have enough friends. I don’t want to hang out with my crazy boss.

I have a work-related issue. My boss pays me A LOT of money, but she asks for too much in terms of personal commitments. It is like I am a paid friend and employee. How do I shift her away from this behavior without confronting her directly? She calls 24/7 with no respect for my personal time, and becomes angry if she cannot reach me at all times via cell. I have great flexibility but also a great albatross around my neck. Please help.

I suspect that you’re too scared to talk to her about it, which means you’re a total wuss, which means she knows she can take advantage of you, which is why she’s doing so.

But if that’s not the case, then…

Your boss is a complete mess in her personal life: insecure, anxious, self-conscious, unself-aware, socially awkward. By forcing her employee to socialize with her, she gets to feel like she’s in control and therefore not completely overwhelmed by self-doubt and the deeply-hidden knowledge that she sucks and no normal person would want to befriend her.

If it was understood when she hired you that all that money meant around-the-clock hand-holding, you can’t do anything about it. Sorry. It’s your job. Otherwise, just totally lie. Tell her you have issues with insomnia, and that you’re going to turn your phone off after 9 pm so you can wind down and try to get some sleep. Overcompensate for your absence by being super attentive, cheerful, and ass-kissy during the day. If she gets angry with you over not answering your phone, just apologize. Over and over. Sweetly but firmly.

Also, if you really can’t live with it and accept her after-hours companionship as part of your job responsibilities, get another job. She’s not going to change.

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