It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Do I have to respond to a request for help from someone I can’t stand?
There’s a woman a few years younger than me (i’m in my mid-30’s, she’s in her late 20’s) who is a friend of my parents through a church community, but who, simply put, irks the heck out of me. There are a number of little personality things that she does that get under my skin, so I just try to avoid her in my personal life. I’ll call her Monica.
At my most recent former job, Monica ended up interning while she worked on her Master’s degree. She talked over people, interrupted my director while he was talking to vendors, and offering up ideas as solutions, and this was the first meeting she had ever had in our office. I read your article on annoying coworkers, and Monica is both an “interrupter” and a “know-it-all.” My director didn’t correct her (he’s a super nice guy and is great at avoiding what he sees as unnecessary conflict/criticism). She also had a tendency to show up to the office wearing inappropriately short dresses, spending all day tugging at the bottom of them to cover herself.
Because I knew I had personal issues with Monica, I tried to put all of that aside and work with her in a professional manner. But even trying to get along, I just can’t get past being annoyed with her.
I am now at a new firm in a new position, working with someone who is a mutual friend with Monica, and who thinks the world of her. Monica is now applying for a job with this new company. I don’t expect to be working directly with her, so I think I can keep up my keep-to-myself policy and not be overly annoyed with her. However, I just received a message via LinkedIn from her asking me for advice as she prepares for her interview. Normally, I’d suck it up and hold my nose while I replied with something helpful. (It’s not Monica’s fault she gets so under my skin.) But, she spelled my name wrong in the message, which is ridiculous, considering this was through a networking site where my name is clearly written right in front of her! (On the other hand, I have an unusual name and NEVER take it personally when someone misspells it, which makes me think it’s really all about her.)
My professionalism is slipping and I really just want to pretend like I never even received this request. How terrible would I be if I just ignored her request for help over this mistake? I feel like it just goes back to the overall feeling I get from her that she thinks she is better than everyone, and therefore, doesn’t need to pay attention to the details.
I’m not a fan of ignoring a direct request like this from someone you know, but I also don’t think you’re obligated to help her get a job at your company when you don’t want to work with her. One option is to reply back with something like, “Unfortunately, my schedule is packed this week and I don’t think I’d be of much help, but good luck!” Frankly, you could also wait until after the interview and reply that you realize it’s too late to be helpful. Neither of these will feel especially kind, but you’re really not obligated to help her get a job when you don’t think she would be a good coworker.
I actually think the bigger thing here is that you have legitimate, work-related reasons for not thinking she’d be a good hire and you should be sharing them with the hiring manager. If I were the hiring manager, I’d absolutely want to know what your experience working with her was (probably limited to the interrupting and poor interpersonal skills and not about the short dresses).
2. My coworker asked us if we’d support him becoming our team lead
I work on a team that has seen key individuals leave my company within the last few months. It has left the remaining of us a bit confused and overwhelmed with picking up the pieces as we try to cover the departed employees’ responsibilities.
Recently, one of my colleagues called a meeting with those of us who remain. My colleague wanted to get our thoughts and feedback about whether we would support his efforts in becoming the new team lead so he could then approach the director about a potential new role. We were asked point-blank.
I did not answer the question directly because I did not feel like this person is fit to be in this new position. (There are several reasons behind this, mostly because I do not believe he has done his fair share of the workload even before anyone quit, is not reliable because he or someone in his family is constantly sick, and periodically sends email blasts that are unprofessional). Instead, I simply told him that he should have this conversation with the director because the director had previously told me his own vision of rebuilding the team.
Is this an appropriate answer? How else could I have answered this? I didn’t want to be rude but I didn’t want to just say, “Yes, totally, of course I support you being our new team lead” when I felt entirely the opposite.
Your answer was perfectly fine — better than fine, considering that you were put on the spot and in an awkward position. Other options could have been “Hmmm, that’s interesting, I’d want to think about it” or “I’m not sure — I’d want to hear more about your plans for the role” or even, if you were comfortable saying it, “I’m not sure I see you in that role, but I’d be glad to think about it.”
3. Paging a coworker with his first, middle, and last names
We have a paging system at work that we constantly use to page coworkers to locate them on the floor. I recently paged a coworker by his full name — first, middle and last. I then got in trouble with my manager and was told it was unprofessional. The reason we know his middle name is because he has told us. I was really confused when I was told not to do it and got reprimanded. Can you shed some light on this for me?
I’m guessing your manager assumed you were joking around (since that’s what it sounds like to me), and doesn’t want the paging system used for mirth.
4. Listing one-time volunteer work on a resume
Is there a way to appropriately list one-time volunteer experiences on a resume?
I do consistently volunteer with one organization and have that listed, but every once in a while I do a one-time thing: I helped out at a local Rotary event for “breakfast with the Easter Bunny,” both helping with raffle tickets, and actually being the bunny; I’ve cooked food at a local Ronald McDonald House; etc.
On the one hand, I completely understand if it’s not appropriate to list those things. I just don’t want to short change myself, either.
I’d leave them off. They do demonstrate community involvement, but they’re so short-term that they don’t really rise to the level of resume-worthy.
5. Update: Can I ask to work from home for a few days if I can’t stop crying?
Remember the letter-writer in January who was wondering about asking to work from home for a few days because she was facing a possible break-up and couldn’t stop crying (#2 at the link)? Here’s her update.
The request to work from home wasn’t approved, but not for any reasons personal to me. There’s been some general “cracking down” on folks working remotely past their typical one day a week schedule, and so I was asked to stick with my normal schedule if I could — that said, my boss suggested I use any sick or vacation time I needed. So I did that, and in doing so, realized I needed some general larger-scale help with my emotions.
As I was going through this breakup, my long-present-but-dormant depression and anxiety were really starting to pop up. I ended up taking leave for a month to attend an intensive outpatient treatment for people with depression and anxiety, and I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have the time and space to focus on just getting better.
Anyway, I’m in a much better place now — a single place, but a place where I have many more tools in my toolbox to handle my up and down emotions when they swing too far in either direction. Thanks to you and to your readers for the advice and support.