1. Sally

    My boss has atrocious conversational etiquette. He walks away from me when I am mid-sentence and just leaves. He will continue a conversation while walking away from me, and I am seated, giving the expectation that I should get up and follow him while he speaks (I don’t). He interrupts without apologizing, and can be very mean about it. When he DOES sit down, face me, and speak to me, he never makes eye contact, and/or is on his blackberry the whole time, looking everywhere in the room except at me. He shouts at me. He accepts calls during meetings, forcing us to sit there and wait while he speaks to his daughter/wife/friend about non-work related topics (“Hey! No, I’m not busy… What’s up?”). How do I curb his horrible habits? I am in a contracted position, which I will definitely not renew due to these habits, but I still have to work with him for the next two years.

    • Country Girl

      The short answer is unfortunately, you don’t. We don’t not hold the power to correct the bad habits or inconsiderate actions of other adults (especially those to which we report) and generally people who are not considerate of others do not respond well to being corrected. It is too bad that you are contracted to work under this man for the next two years. There are, however, a few things you can do to modify your own reactions which might make him at least a little more likely to consider his own behaviors.

      If he is ready to whip out his phone in the middle of a conversation you can, for instance, say “Oh, do you need to attend to another matter right now? Would you like me to come back?” If he interrupts you, you can wait until he is through speaking to say “Yes, and now back to what I was saying about….” Shouting at you seems like it may be a bigger issue here. That is typically unacceptable behavior, and you shouldn’t have to be subject to humiliation at your job. If he does this in front of others, you can speak with him privately and say something like “Mr. Cooper, I understand now that I filed the xyz report incorrectly. I want to do things right here, however I know I will learn better by being taught the right way or corrected privately.”

      You must walk a fine line, since of course this is your boss, and will have to evaluate and pick your battles. Try and ignore some of the simply annoying habits, thank him if and when he does something considerate, and know when to stick up for yourself if he does cross major lines of personal respect.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with CG. I would only add that there’s a difference between correcting your boss and drawing boundaries as to how you will allow yourself to be treated. Yes, this is your boss, and this person holds a certain amount of power over you. However, you can stick up for yourself in a dignified manner. If he walks away while talking, stay at your seat. When he comes back, you can say, “Oh, I”m sorry, you walked away, I thought you had concluded our conversation. If you’d like to continue the conversation, it would be helpful to me if you’d ask me to follow you.” If he accepts calls during meetings, slip out of the room and back to your desk. When he comes to find you, say “Oh, I’m sorry, it looked like you were taking a private call and I just wanted to give you some space. I figured we could continue when you were finished.” The eye contact thing sounds like he might have some social anxiety or some other condition preventing him from normal conversation. You might sit to his right or left instead of facing him, as that might be more comfortable for him. When he shouts, you can excuse yourself and say, “I’m just going to step out and allow you to collect yourself. It’s not appropriate to shout, and I’m sorry but I can’t allow myself to be shouted at.”

      Some of these may go too far, but you can see how in a variety of situations, you can act appropriately and with dignity and still not let someone trample your sense of humanity.

  2. Claire

    The brother of my boyfriend is getting married this summer and my boyfriend is the best man. My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and I know the family well. I did not receive an invitation to the wedding, but the invitation that my boyfriend received included “and guest.” Considering that I know the family well, my boyfriend is the best man, yet I did not receive my own invitation, what type of wedding gift am I expected to bring? I suggested to my boyfriend that we buy a gift together and split the cost, but he said he is uncomfortable with that idea because he already told his brother he would purchase an expensive gift for him (of the brother’s choosing, but TBD). What is my next step?

    • Alicia

      Give a gift in keeping with your budget and your closeness to the groom and bride.
      FYI you sound miffed that your boyfriend was given an and guest invite not a and you invite. Him being best man has nothing to do with this. You likely did not get a specifically you invite because you are only being invited because of dating your boyfriend and would not make the guest list without him. That is reasonable and normal and short of being engaged absolutely nothing to be miffed about.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I dislike the use of “and guest” for several reasons. For one thing it is as impersonal as you can get and good hosts hosts should try to make their guests have a feeling of intimacy with the hosts. For another thing it creates a lot of room for error. They very clearly had you in mind, but what if you couldn’t go and your boyfriend decided to make his guest a friend of his that the bride and groom aren’t fond of? Or what if someone who was invited to bring a guest, rsvped for 1, forgot and brought a guest anyway (which happened at my brother’s wedding, apparently it’s easier to forget when there’s no name attached to the person)? That being said, I would assume that in your case they used “and guest” for all of their friends/family with significant others so you shouldn’t take it personally.

      For your gift, as Emily Post said the amount you spend should be guided by your affection for the couple. I would add that it should also be guided by how much disposable income you have.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with the other posters that you could simply give a gift according to your means and affection, but the more obvious option (the road more frequently traveled, so to speak) would be for you to ‘chip in’ to your boyfriend’s gift and have him sign the card from both of you. There’s no reason you have to split it down the middle. As the best man and the groom’s brother, it makes sense that he’d get him a nice gift, but why not include your name on the gift as well, and you can contribute to that gift whatever you would have given otherwise? If your boyfriend has some reason to distinguish between your and his contribution to the gift, I would recommend getting to the bottom of that reason, as it doesn’t appear to be good.

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