Help! My Co-Worker Keeps Butting In!
Q: Whenever someone comes to me with a question, the woman in the next cubicle yells out the answer before I have a chance to speak. I think it is very rude of her to butt in when someone has specifically asked for my opinion. How should I handle this?
A: By trying to beat you to the answer, your know-it-all colleague is definitely overstepping her bounds. However, since you’re not her boss, you appear to have only two choices. The first is to politely request an end to the interruptions.
For example: “Mary, I know you’re just trying to help, but it really bothers me when you yell out an answer to someone who is asking me a question. I would appreciate your giving me time to respond. If I don’t have the information, I will gladly refer the person to you.”
Should you prefer not to have that conversation, your second option is to simply ignore her unsolicited input and continue with your own answer.
The key to giving effective feedback is to be honest, but not critical.
Q: Because of a serious hearing loss, I wear hearing aids in both ears. Although my manager has installed adaptive equipment and adjusted my job duties, there are times when my special requirements are ignored.
Periodically, all employees are required to attend meetings where management provides updates on current business issues. When these speakers turn their back on me, they never try to talk louder or repeat the questions being asked. As a result, I miss a lot of information. How should I address this?
A: Given the constant interaction at work, I can only imagine how often you must deal with aggravating communication issues. However, I’m fairly certain that this particular problem is a matter of forgetfulness, not disrespect. Unfortunately, out-of-sight disabilities can easily slip out of mind.
Since your immediate boss may have little to do with companywide meetings, consider having a talk with your human resources manager. Instead of complaining, explain your dilemma and suggest a reasonable solution.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and author.