During the course of our lives, we have to be able to get along with people we don’t necessarily like. It happens every day of our lives. From the time we’re in school and a kid makes fun of us, mom/dad would tell us to ignore it, and not take it personally. That turned into the bullying issue we see so often now. I faced it, and I survived, but if I knew a better way to make it stop, I would have. Now that I’m an adult, I find myself facing the same sort of issue. Granted, people don’t generally screw with me the way they did when I was younger and unpopular, but they still get on my nerves with things that they do.
When it’s my choice to read what someone has to say about a certain topic, and their opinion may burn me a bit, it becomes my issue, because I chose to read the topic, and further if I comment on it and get nasty responses. I can live with that. What I don’t like is having to deal with negative feelings all day (yes these feelings are my own, but they’re really hard to handle sometimes – of which I am also responsible). To survive one must work (except for extreme circumstances). Unless you are your own boss, and work from home with no co-workers around, you probably have experienced some of these situations.
Before I continue, I want to preface that these are my opinions and questions. I realize that they may come across as whiny, or annoying, and I admit that I could handle things better, but this is really a difficult area for me. Also, as an individual (and many of my friends can attest to this), I prefer not to get into conversations about religion, politics, or money. With money, it’s none of anyone’s business how much money I make, or what my BF makes. It’s simply our business, as we are the one’s affected by the income we bring home, or what we chose to spend on certain items. With religion & politics, my beliefs are probably contrary to the majority, so I choose not to talk about them because I don’t want to piss people off, and try not to get annoyed myself.
That being said, I work in an “office” where we are in a relatively small space, where five of us are separated by cubicles. There is enough room for us to work in an individual 8×10 space, about the size of your standard jail cell. There is one man made hallway down the middle, so there are three of us on one side, and two on the other. It’s very easy to get into the habit of simply raising your voice to ask a question, as it’s a small space. I will say that I don’t mind that so much, especially when the question/answer is beneficial to everyone in the room. Because that’s become so habitual for a couple of people, another co-worker and I have noticed that their personal conversations have gone from standard “inside voice” to the near yelling across the cubicles to talk about something that’s not relevant to anyone else but these other co-workers. When on the phone with a client, it’s difficult to hear when they’re speaking, but what’s more irritating are the topics of conversation.
In the past week, I have heard talk of the following:
• A Muslim’s views on Christianity & Judaism.
• A Christian’s view on the Bible, and lack of knowledge therein.
• Ongoing comment on the fact that a co-workers husband is a “doctor,” and further on their monetary standing.
Now, because we work in the political arena, politics are usually a topic of conversation, but as it relates to our job, so that doesn’t annoy me so much. Between the five of us, two (myself & co-worker) have talked about these issues that we have to one another, and have made decisions to help us handle these annoyances to the best of our ability. Both of us now have noise cancelling headphones we wear when it gets to be too much, we e-mail back and forth when we need to bitch a little bit, without being too specific, because we don’t want to get into trouble, and we’ve gone for walks just to get out of the office.
She has vocalized her disgust with our other co-workers commenting on her financial standing, because her husband is in his residency period, and is a doctor, but anyone who knows about the time of residency knows that they are probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to the student loans, and that residency pays little to nothing, compared to being an independent practitioner. She has also been pegged as the rich girl because her family comes from Nantucket. She has mentioned several times, quite nicely I might add, that she would prefer people not talk about certain things. I too have told one co-worker who asked how much I make that it was none of her business, to get the retort that because of who I work for it’s public information. Granted it is, but if she wants to know, she can do a search. Regardless of our requests, the topics continue to be discussed with no regard to the requests that have been made.
I’ve often wondered if this happens at any other office. In previous jobs, I have never run across this kind of behavior. So, what’s tolerable? What would you be offended by, or put off by, as a conversation while at work with people who are not your friends but co-workers?
My list includes the following:
• Unsolicited comments on personal life
• Unsolicited opinions
• Overly dramatic reactions to a small issue (What your mom would refer to as insignificant because there are starving children <insert country>
I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of them right now. So, have at it! I’m really curious!