Sunday, May 26, 2024

my new coworker’s annoying habits are driving me mad — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I’m afraid I’m heading into bitch-eating-crackers stage with my colleague. I have to both handle him higher, or perhaps change my perspective/response to keep away from that.

I’ve a brand new colleague, Niles. He’s new to working in an workplace atmosphere. He went again to high school for his diploma and is in his early (perhaps mid) 30’s. He has labored in different subject(s), however they weren’t workplace jobs.

We’re in a technical subject the place it’s frequent to have junior and senior degree staff doing related capabilities at a distinct degree. We’re in the identical workforce, he doesn’t report back to me, however I’m senior to him and he does come to me for coaching, steering, and recommendation. Our supervisor expects me to work with him, and supply steering. In concept I’m pleased to try this, however in follow I’m beginning to discover him annoying, and I want to find out which components could also be fixable. I believe if I can repair just a few issues, the remainder will annoy me much less.

Niles fidgets loads and I discover it distracting. How a lot can I ask him to cease, and if that’s the case how? Some examples: biting his nails whereas sitting subsequent to me; stretching (full physique) whereas standing close to me. Stretching upwards, stretching sideways, stretching his neck, again, arms, shoulders, bending over, popping his again, popping his fingers, popping his neck. Who knew so many joints might pop? This isn’t only a arise and stretch, it is a lot of stretching. This all happens whereas I’m responding to a query.

He’ll typically take out his cellphone and (responding to textual content messages, studying?) when I’ve to take a second to look one thing up. Different instances, he’ll (presumably) get a message whereas I’m speaking — and subsequently will take a look at of the dialog. Not go away my dice or excuse himself, however have a look at his cellphone, cease responding to me, or reply with “uh huh” or different perfunctory responses. This behavior feels exceptionally impolite to me — it feels so impolite that I can’t consider any strategy to reply that isn’t scolding.

If he comes into my dice and I’m in the midst of typing, he’ll stare instantly at my display screen, clearly studying what I’m typing. Typically he’ll touch upon what I’m typing. How do I appropriate an grownup?

I don’t count on him to sit down completely nonetheless, however the degree of fidgeting is distracting; pulling out his cellphone appears disrespectful; studying my display screen feels invasive.

I used to be working remotely for the previous a number of years till just a few months in the past. I think a few of that is normal annoyance on my half with the presence of different individuals, and the legitimate interruptions. The place do I begin?

You may tackle a whole lot of this!

The simplest, and most pressing, to handle is him trying out of conversations as a result of he will get distracted by his cellphone. The following time that occurs, you must say, “Are you able to cease your cellphone whereas we’re speaking?” And even, “You appear distracted and I don’t have a whole lot of time — can you set your cellphone down so we will focus?”

I’m much less involved by him glancing at his texts whilst you’re taking a minute to look one thing up, since that seems like a break within the dialog. However he completely shouldn’t be getting pulled into his cellphone whilst you’re in energetic dialogue, and you’ll plainly and instantly inform him to cease. You may do that even when had been a peer, frankly — however you particularly can do it while you’re senior to him and your boss expects you to offer him steering.

The secret’s to be matter-of-fact about it. You’re so pissed off that something you envision saying in all probability sounds pissed off in your head — but it surely doesn’t have to. Your tone can merely be direct and simple. If he takes it as scolding, that’s his to cope with — but it surely’s a really, very affordable factor so that you can say.

You can even inform him to cease (and commenting on!) your display screen. The following time he does it, say this: “I’d moderately you not watch my display screen after I’m in the midst of one thing; typically it will likely be one thing confidential.” Alternate wording if extra of a mentoring method feels extra snug: “I do know you may see my display screen with the way in which our desks are positioned, however there’s type of a normal settlement that we don’t have a look at individuals’s stuff such as you’re doing proper now, only for privateness.”

The fidgeting and stretching are trickier as a result of it’s attainable he has a bodily have to do it. You shouldn’t bark “cease shifting!” however you may actually ask if it’s one thing he can rein in. For instance: “It’s distracting while you transfer round a lot. Except you may have an actual bodily want for it, might I ask you to cease whilst you’re in right here?”

Should you can resolve these three points — or at the least the primary two — you would possibly really feel much less aggravated  general. However if you happen to tackle all of this and nothing adjustments, it’s price mentioning to your boss that Niles would possibly want some teaching on skilled polish. Not for the stretching and fidgeting (as a result of once more, there may be a bodily trigger for it, and likewise she’s in all probability seeing it firsthand herself anyway), however the cellphone factor is actually price mentioning — together with that you simply’ve given him direct suggestions on it and it hasn’t modified, if that turns into the case. Should you really feel bizarre about elevating that together with her, remember the fact that there’s a very good likelihood he’s doing it with different individuals too and it’s coming throughout as impolite/disrespectful; that’s one thing she ought to learn about.

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