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Your Office Coach: Employee’s life choices, work habits are not co-worker’s problem

By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune News Service –

Question:  The owner of our company has hired several of my friends, based on my recommendation.  He trusts my judgment because I have been with him ever since he started the business 10 years ago.  The last person I recommended was “Angela,” a woman whom I have known for 15 years.

Unfortunately, after Angela was hired, I learned that her husband recently left her because she drinks every night until she passes out.  I have not shared this information with the owner, since it doesn’t seem job-related.  However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to watch Angela misrepresent herself at the office.

Angela talks constantly about what a hard life she has, so management gives her special consideration even though she doesn’t do a very good job.  In reality, her friends have given up trying to help her because she habitually lies to everyone.

Given her tendency to lie, I’m afraid Angela might start spreading false rumors about me at work, which could cause the owner to stop trusting me.  I am also tired of her stealing my parking space.  What should I do about this woman?

Answer: The parking issue is easy, so let’s start with that one.  If you have an officially designated space, you should simply inform Angela that she is not allowed to park there.  However, if this spot is “yours” only by habit or history, then anyone arriving before you has an equal right to occupy it.

Your anxiety about damaging rumors seems premature, given that nothing has actually happened.  Based on your description, Angela is an incompetent, lying alcoholic, while you are a respected employee with a 10-year track record.  Her ability to harm you would therefore seem to be quite limited.  In my experience, chronic liars are soon discovered and seldom believed.

Finally, regarding the “special consideration” that Angela receives from management, the key question is whether these privileges interfere with your own productivity.  If so, ask your immediate supervisor for help in correcting the situation.  But if not, then you might as well accept the fact that Angela’s life choices and work habits are really not your problem.


Q:  You recently answered a question related to purchasing gifts at the office.  In my department, we have a gift-giving procedure that has worked well for many years.

Whenever there is a retirement, wedding, or other special event, we circulate a large envelope with everyone’s name listed on the front.  People check off their name to show they received the envelope, then add a contribution if they wish.  No one ever knows who contributed, so there is no pressure to participate.

The envelope also contains a card, which anyone can sign regardless of whether they make a donation.  The person who started the collection then buys an appropriate gift with the money that was received.

A:  Thank you for sharing a creative solution to a common workplace dilemma.  Your “anonymous envelope” sounds like a great way to avoid many of the problems related to office gift-giving.

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