terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My boss and I like each other and it’s uncomfortable

My boss is a female and I am a male. We are both married. I really do like her and she gives me the impression she likes me too. The problem is that I think I make her uncomfortable because she likes me. Neither of us have done or would ever do anything inappropriate, but my thinking that I make her uncomfortable is bothering me. I see how she interacts with other people and she is very relaxed and comfortable, but with me she is tense and nervous. It’s because I genuinely like her and working for her that her uneasiness bothers me. I’m a shy introvert and ahe has also admitted the same to me. When we are alone, it is a little better but around other people she practically ignores me. I want to confront her, but think it might make her even more uncomfortable, and the whole idea of making her uncomfortable is making me uncomfortable. I thought it was cute at first, but it’s been 8 months and starting to make me feel some kind of way. Can’t emphasize enough that we get along fine. It’s just this tension between us. How should I resolve this?

Pretend it’s not happening, and interact with her like you would anyone else. Do not under any circumstances “confront” her about what you believe her feelings to be; that would be wildly inappropriate.

Also, consider the possibility that she’s uncomfortable around you because you’re either giving her the vibe that you’re attracted to her or that you think she’s attracted to you — either one would make one’s manager uncomfortable.

2. Coworker distracts me by looking at me

I work in a small office and unfortunately I am easily distracted. I have a coworker who often gets up and every time they do, as soon as they are in view, they look at me. Almost every time and it is making me feel uncomfortable. Is this action normal?

It’s annoying, but it’s not shockingly uncommon. Can you put up some kind of barrier?

3. Interpreting interviewer’s signals at the end of an interview

I had my first-round interview on Monday. I did okay on the interview, with some good answers and some bad ones. I’m worried that I may have done worse than I thought though because she didn’t ask for references at the end, and also said, “Thanks for coming in” at the end. Do these things mean anything? Could it be that they don’t ask for references until the second interview? She did tell me that they will know by next week regarding the candidates for the second interview, and that I am welcome to follow up in the meantime. (I don’t intend on following up until at least a week has passed, don’t worry :D )

I wouldn’t read anything into either of those things. Employers often don’t ask for references until the very end of the process, and “thanks for coming in” is a normal thing to say at the end of an interview, because they want to thank you for, well, coming in. It’s not dismissive or code for “I don’t expect to ever speak to you again” or anything like that.

4. Offering a personal business card to your interviewer

I saw another blog recommending that you should bring your own business cards with your contact info on them to hand out at interviews. Is this now a thing?

I hope not. Anyone interviewing you has your contact information, because they have your resume. Business cards that you’d have printed up specially for job-seeking would be extraneous.

5. Vacation days when you start a new job at the end of the year

I have been at my new job for just under a month. My offer included 5 vacation days which expire January 1, 2013. Associates hired this late in the year typically do not get any vacation days, but since my offer was somewhat generous, I figured the days were just an added bonus. Last week, I inquired about scheduling some of the paid days off, and my manager seemed surprised. She did not know that I was given any and really had to scrounge the calendar to find some dates that would work. Now I am concerned how “needing a vacation” after just a few weeks will make me look. Am I jeopardizing people’s view of my work ethic by not letting these days go to waste?

Probably. I know that they were part of your offer, but in general taking time off right after starting a job doesn’t look great. The holidays are often an exception, but I’d use them only for specifically holiday time (i.e., the days connected to Christmas and New Year’s), and only if your manager doesn’t seem put out. I’d value the impression you’re making on your new manager over the principle of being able to use days that were part of your offer.

6. Avoiding looking like a job-hopper

I graduated from college two years ago, and since then have had terrible luck beyond my control in terms of employment. My first professional job was with a small start-up company, but I was caught in a downsize only three months after starting the position. I’ve been at my current job for a year now, but the company is in dire financial straits, the workplace environment has become toxic, and I’m being forced to take a part-time position working only a fraction of my previous full-time hours. I’m currently job hunting and don’t want to appear negative in any resumes, CVs, or cover letters by mentioning the situations surrounding my short tenures at jobs, but I’m worried that I look like a poorly behaved employee or a job hopper. How would I go about protecting myself from that impression without becoming a case of “the gentleman doth protest too much”?

I’d probably leave the first job off your resume altogether, since three months is such a short stay that you won’t have any notable accomplishments to include anyway, and it won’t strengthen your resume (and instead will just raise questions). That would leave you with just the current job, and you can explain if asked that the company is struggling financially and cutting people’s hours.

7. Confrontational coworker tape-recorded our conversation

I have a coworker who is fairly incompetent. Now I typically don’t care, but here screw ups affect my job as well. I work in the U.S., but my company is based in the UK. I bring this up because it’s my understanding that in the UK they don’t fire people very often, unless they do something totally egregious.

Well today I was working from home, and I found out that this coworker decided to handle something that was my job, not hers (which is a common problem many people have with her). I called to try and A) figure it out so I could correct it, and B) discuss why she felt the need to do it in the first place. The fact that she refuse any wrong doing made me extremely frustrated, and the conversation got pretty heated (more from my end then hers). All of a sudden we were “disconnected”. She then called me back and we talked some more then got “disconnected” again. She called back again and we had some words. It wasn’t going anywhere so I essentially suggested me, her, and her manager have a meeting to discuss this. At the end of the conversation she said that she would let people judge me themselves because she recorded the call. Now aside from that being completely ridiculous to do that to a coworker, I work in Illinois where its actually illegal to record someone without their knowledge.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about dealing with this. She is kind of a brat and its probably withing my rights to actually have her arrested, although I think that is a bit extreme (even though I can’t stand her). But my manager is on maternity leave, her manager (who is actually on the organizational chart even with me) isn’t back in the office until next week. Also, we have no HR department in our office and I’m not really familiar with UK HR policies. Talking to this girl clearly doesn’t work since I’m just the latest in a long line of people to have these type of confrontations with her.

Talk to her manager about it when she returns next week. However, it sounds like you weren’t exactly a paragon of professionalism here either. Trying to get a coworker to admit wrongdoing rather than simply solving the problem, “having words” with a coworker, and even contemplating whether you could have her arrested are rarely productive actions, and they’re rarely things that will reflect well on you.

Anyway, talk to her manager about the situation — explain she’s confrontational, difficult to work with, and illegally recorded your conversation as some sort of ammunition, and request that her manager address the problem with her and resolve it, because you need her to adhere to basic levels of professionalism when working with you.

This entry was posted in HR, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.