Work Life

I think my co-worker is living out of his car

Q: One of my co-workers has had a few financial setbacks, and I think he’s living out of his car – I see it parked in a local grocery at all hours of the day, and it is filled with clothes and boxes. Is there some way I can help him without offending him?

A: Your question reveals your kindness – both in your desire to help (Christian charity) and your sensitivity to his feelings (respecting his dignity). Kudos to you on both counts.

Can I ask people to put their phones away at meetings?

Q: I am responsible for running a weekly workflow meeting in our office. During the meeting, the attendees are constantly needing to have information repeated that they missed because they were too busy checking email on their smartphones. This results in errors on projects and makes the meetings run longer than necessary. How can I approach my boss to request a moratorium on smartphone use during meetings – he’s the worst offender!

I'm out of the lunch clique

Q: I work in a small office, where all of the “old-timers” go to lunch every day. I feel left out. Isn’t this rude office behavior? Any advice for me?

A: Join them. I’ve found this maxim to be true – the more I focus on the difficult behavior of others, the more I tend to feel helpless, small-minded and irritable. The more I focus on making a positive difference, the more I feel large-minded, empowered and happy – even if my attempted contribution is a dud.

I’m swamped by too much email

Q: I have hundreds of emails to wade through every day – which is not helped by one person in the office who has a “reply all” mania. I sometimes miss actual important items that pertain to my job because I tend to glaze over when I come to his emails. What is my best approach to handle this?

A: Email has a way of taking on a life of its own, swamping us with unnecessary information, drowning us in minutiae, appealing to instant gratification and reducing productivity.

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