Thursday, February 02, 2006

Immersed in Office-inappropriate Behavior

Dear Cassandra,

Over the past few months, I have found myself irritated, bewildered, and disgusted by my co-worker's poor office etiquette. This co-worker speaks with his outdoor voice when on the phone, loudly and messily devours food in the middle of business meetings, and is always dressed like he should be attending a football game, not working at the office. I won’t even go into the things he says when the office gets together at TGI Fridays during Thursday Happy Hour. The other day, this co-worker talked for about five minutes about his recent bowel problems. And another co-worker chimed in about fiber treatments that have worked for her. What can I do to remedy this situation?

Best Regards,

Immersed in Office-inappropriate Behavior


Dear Immersed in Office-inappropriate Behavior,

Indeed, you are correct. The office seems hardly the place to discuss one's bowel problems. Such topics of conversation should be reserved for visits to your doctor. This reminds me of a similar situation when I was working in an office in a corporate park just outside of Syracuse. One of my co-workers would come over to my cubicle to tell me all about her bowel problems. After realizing that this was not just a one-time occurrence, but rather a weekly ritual (usually after she had lunch at the local Mexican restaurants, The Acapulco), I decided it was time to stop this colleague in her tracks. One day, as she began to describe her most recent bowel movement, I simply said "Hah! You think that's bowel pain. My first husband's ex-wife disemboweled him with a sword (a bit of an embellishment since most accounts state that she beheaded him, but I needed to shut her up). From the body to the floor…Now that's what I consider a serious movement of the bowels." After that, she stopped coming by to tell me about her latest GI problems. Perhaps it was because she realized that in comparison to my dead husband, her bowel problems were really quite trivial. In any case, perhaps you might want to try this technique on your co-worker. And if "one-upping" him does not work...just invest in an iPod as a means of drowning out the stories.

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