It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Talking to a depressed coworker/friend about B.O.
I have a very good friend who’s also a coworker (on another team from mine). I happen to know that she’s suffering from very bad depression, and I’m very proud of her for getting through it as well as she is.
Here’s my dilemma–in the last few months, she’s developed a definite problem with body odor. I think it’s very likely to be related to her depression, since I know she has trouble gathering the energy to do even basic tasks. I’m concerned that it may damage her professional reputation–I know some of our coworkers have already complained about what they think is her flakiness, and the fact that she’s not been as put together as is expected in our industry (think wearing visibly rumpled clothes, that kind of thing). Should I say anything to her? And if so, what would you recommend I say?
(As a side note, I don’t think this is due to cultural differences in diet.)
If she’s a good friend and you believe she’d want to know (most people would, for what that’s worth), yes. Exactly what to say will depend on your relationship, but it could be less awkward to make it about laundry rather than her actual body. You could say something like this: “Hey, I hope you don’t mind me telling you this, but I’ve noticed an odor from your clothes lately that didn’t used to be there. It might be that you’re washing or drying your clothes differently than you used to. It’s hard to noticed stuff like that about yourself, so I thought you’d want me to tell you.”
Or you could be more straightforward, although most people really struggle with directly telling people they’ve got B.O. But if you’re up for it, you could say: “I want to be a good friend and tell you that I’ve noticed lately you’ve had a smell you didn’t used to have. Normally I’d ask if everything was okay, but I know you’re going through a really tough time and figured this might be related to that. I’d count on you to tell me that if you ever noticed it about me so I hope it’s okay that I’m telling you.”
2. My coworkers keep touching me
Several people in my office have been touching me. It is not inappropriate touching; it is more like make a connection touching. I don’t like it at all. Is there a nice way I can get it to stop? I am not a toucher type. In the beginning it was happening a little. Then we got a new person and he was touching me the minute he walked in the door. I mentioned this to someone and then many more people started touching. I suspect the person wanted to get to me and spread the word. Do you think if I tough up and ignore it they will tire of it and stop?
Possibly, but rather than waiting it out, why not just tell people to stop? Just say, “Oh, I’m not really a toucher.” Smile and say it kindly, and people are less likely to take it as a chilly push-away. But if someone continues after you’ve told them to stop, getting chillier is perfectly appropriate; at that point you should say firmly and without smiling, “Please don’t touch me.”
3. Putting degrees/certifications in your email signature
How do you feel about email signatures with degrees/certification in them? Like, “Sansa Stark, MPA” or “Brienne of Tarth, Esq” ?
For most people, not good. Avoid.
There are a few fields where it’s normal to do that (like the medical field, for example), but for most people, it’s unnecessary and comes across as putting too much weight on the degree. If it’s the norm in your field, you’ll presumably know it — but define that as “nearly everyone working in this field,” not “I’ve seen a couple of people do it.”
4. How to give feedback to consultants
At my organization we have a formal performance evaluation system for staff, which consultants are not included in even though many of them do staff-like work. As a team leader of projects, management frequently assigns people to my team who do work on my projects but do not directly report to me (except in the context of the project). It has always bothered me that there is not a formal way to provide feedback for consultants, particularly those who have done a great job. I have started doing emails, but was not sure about the appropriate protocol, especially as no one else really does it and I work in a formal environment.
Is it better to write to their supervisor directly saying what an excellent job they did and why and copy the person, or write to the person thanking them for their good work and copy their supervisor?
Either one! And in either case, they and their manager will likely really appreciate it.
You can also provide feedback informally on an ad hoc basis as you notice things that person is excelling at or that you’d like them to do differently, or in slightly more formal debriefs at the end of a project. (The latter wouldn’t be a performance evaluation; you don’t really do that for consultants. But you can certainly ask them to set aside time to debrief with you about how the work went.)
5. Can my friend connect me to a recruiter who contacted her about a job?
My friend is being regularly emailed by recruiters. She’s not interested in most of the positions, but occasionally shows me one that might be a good fit for me. We work in related fields, though hers is more technical. Our skill sets overlap, and it wouldn’t take long for me to learn the ropes.
If my friend is contacted by a recruiter with a job that isn’t right for her but might be right for me, what should we do? Should I reach out to the recruiter directly? Should she send the recruiter my contact information? Should she include my resume? We’re really stumped on the etiquette here.
Do both. Recruiters are usually happy to get leads, so it wouldn’t be at all weird for your friend to say, “I know someone who could be great for this. Her name is Cordelia Plufferton, and I”m attaching her resume if you’d like to reach out to her.” Meanwhile, if you don’t hear from the recruiter a day or two after that, it would be fine for you to contact the person directly and say “I learned about this job from my friend Valentina Warbleworth and would love to talk if you think I might be the right match” (and of course, attach your resume).