A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Dear Sue: I work with this lady who constantly goes through my
desk and the stuff on it. I do not have anything to hide or be ashamed of,
but it is very irritating to know that she is so disrespectful of her
co-workers. I have seen her go through other people's desk as they have
seen her go through mine. She usually does this before people get to work
as she gets here about 30-60 minutes before everyone else gets to work or
while they are at lunch. Any thoughts on what I should do?
Sue Says: I am having trouble understanding why you (or your
coworkers) have permitted this to go on and havenít approached this lady
about her snooping. This person has the nerve to peruse through other
peopleís desks, and you donít know what to do about it? The answer is
quite simple: you need to inform her that you know what she is doing, and
let her know it is totally unacceptable and inappropriate. Tell her that
each person should be entitled to privacy in their own work area and that
if she needs something, all she has to do is ask someone for help. Keep in
mind that this lady is the one who is doing something inappropriate and
that she is the one who should be uncomfortable, not you. You need to be
firm and direct with her, and let her know that if she continues this
practice that you will be forced to report her.
Dear Sue: I have a problem with one of the supervisors in the
office. He has been trying to get me fired for a long time. Yesterday, I
left work with a horrific migraine. It was all I could do to make it home.
I called a coworker and asked her to tell my immediate supervisor when he
returned to the office. Today when I came to work, the supervisor who has
it in for me had written a warning up on me and gave it to my boss. My
boss and I always got along well and could talk openly about anything.
When the two of them asked me to talk with them, all hell broke out. I
read the letter and it was a pack of lies. I told the supervisor who wrote
the warning that he was a liar, threw the written warning on the floor and
told them they would have my two weeks notice on their desk.
My father is in the hospital with terminal cancer and this supervisor
is making my life miserable. I still need to put my resignation in
writing, but I am not sure how to say that it is due to this big liar. I
love the company, the other people I work with and am sorry to leave, but
cannot work with this person. Please help me.
Sue Says: I am truly sorry for all you are going through. Your
fatherís illness, your migraine, and your supervisorís behavior
undoubtedly brought you to a breaking point. Give yourself time to cool
down before writing the letter. I am not certain if you are convinced
leaving is the best thing for you to do or not, but do think it might do
you some good to initiate a meeting with the boss you always got along
well with. As calmly as you can, discuss with him the reason for your
reaction that day and your resignation.
Although not always possible, itís nice to try to leave a job on decent
terms. Even if this supervisor is the reason you are leaving, you do need
to take some ownership for your departure, and should not write a letter
that entirely blames or bashes him.
Keep in mind that you are bound to run into other difficult supervisors
in the future; it will help if you can learn ways to communicate and cope
with others that are less combative and more effective.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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