Struggling With Stories: When too much is shared

by epi on November 15, 2012

Q: My co-worker recently moved into a new subdivision in a suburb pretty far out from Boston.  Every Monday, he comes in with a new story of the animal he “had” to kill.  These animals have ranged from ants and mice to birds and foxes.  I’m a person who prefers other options besides killing (options I’ve suggested), or just trying to live with the creatures.  I’ve tried to excuse myself from these conversations, but the configuration of our desks makes it quite hard to stay out of earshot.  He knows my beliefs, but truly believes what he’ doing is necessary.  How do I stop him from telling me his odd tales of murder?

A: Unfortunately, the subtle approach hasn’t worked.  And given your office setup, escaping doesn’t seem possible.  It seems your only choice is a direct approach.  That means talking to him.  The most important elements of the conversation are that it be done quietly and privately.  Your first goal is to remedy the situation; your second goal is not to embarrass him or put him on the defensive.  Set up a time to talk, so that you’re not jumping on him at the moment he’s telling his story.  Don’t make him out to be the bad guy: Simply ask him if he realizes his stories are making you very uncomfortable.  By “asking,” you’re forcing him to acknowledge that his stories have upset you.  Next, ask him to please stop telling them when you’re around.  Again, by asking him you are putting him in a position where he has to commit to a specific action.  Hopefully, given this approach, he will stop.  Good luck.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Resume or No? November 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

A colleague of mine recommended a company to me (with whom he has done business) as a potential place of employment for me. I called today to speak with the owner (who has worked with my colleague) and found out he is on leave for a while from surgery. I explained why I was calling to (whom I assume might be) the receptionist as her name isn’t on the company director online and she said I could email my background and contact information to her.

I am wondering what is the best way to proceed in this instance. Should I email a full blown cover letter/resume? Should I just give a quick synopsis of my background and contact info?

To add: I am not applying for a posted position, the company’s website states they are always looking for good people to fill these positions. Also my background is slightly different than the position I seek, but their website states that a new hire will be trained from scratch so experience is not necessarily among what they value in a new employee. Should I mention any of this in my email?

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Elizabeth November 15, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I would follow the directions of the receptionist… but it sounds like her directions were a bit vague. What does ‘background’ mean? (It could imply something very informal, or it could mean your resume.) The safest thing, I would think, is to go ahead and send a cover letter and your resume. You can mention your friend’s reference in the letter (not in an email), you can describe the position you’re interested in, and you can address the slight mismatch in your background by describing why your background sets you up as a good candidate – paint it in a positive light, and explain why you are looking to make a shift (it aligns with your interests/ambitions/skills, etc).

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Resume or No? November 16, 2012 at 2:19 am

Thank you for your reply. In the length of time it took my post to show here, unfortunately, I already had written her. I essentially wrote a cover letter in the email with a synopsis of my work experience and how it related to the job, why I was looking into this position, and contact information and then said I look forward to an opportunity to present my resume. Maybe my thought process was keep ‘em interested? ;) She seemed very satisfied with the email saying she would pass it along to the owner.

(I know it is difficult for EPI to have an actual person monitoring questions constantly, but I thought I read here quite a while back that they were looking into a new system so posts could be more immediate? I hope that is still the case, I like your input Elizabeth and wish I would’ve had time to consider it!)

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