You Don’t Need to Like Those Vacation Pics
Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to [email protected] Include your name and location, or a request to …
Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to [email protected]. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters may be edited.
Far Too Much Flaunting
It is in poor taste for your senior colleagues to flaunt their wealth while running a nonprofit that helps alleviate conditions of poverty. Talk about cognitive dissonance. And the implied obligation of your positive reactions to their lifestyle is an added frustration. As for how you should proceed, it depends on the temperament of your senior colleagues and the professional consequences of voicing your concerns. Would they be open to constructive feedback? If so, tactfully mention your concerns about the optics of their personal sharing given the organization’s mission. You might remind them that for far too many people, perception is reality and as such, it is better to not undermine the work you do by making it seem like the people who run this nonprofit are wildly out of touch with the realities of poverty. I also don’t think you have to respond to their privileged oversharing. That’s not part of your job description. You can be collegial without fawning over their new boat the way they want you to.
The Honeymoon Is Over
We’re all going through it right now in one way or another. Ideally, we should be more patient and considerate of others. And sometimes, stress will get the better of us. But your boss is chronically taking out her personal problems in a professional setting. It’s not just unkind. It’s unproductive and unacceptable. How do you defend yourself from a manager’s volatility when you can’t predict it? And when you’re trying to develop defensive strategies to protect yourself from a colleague, you’re positioning yourself as the problem when you are not. The only real way to shield yourself is to stay out this manager’s orbit, which doesn’t seem possible. The frustrating reality is that there is little recourse when a manager behaves badly. There is Human Resources, but that department serves the organization rather than employees. They are not always allies. It seems like your manager has a lot going on and isn’t irredeemably evil. Is there a way to give her direct feedback about her behavior when she’s in a bad mood? She may not be aware of the effect she is having on team morale or individual team members. When your manager says something unacceptable, can you point it out and push back? Can you encourage others to do so too? Confrontation is uncomfortable, but so is an abusive boss. I would choose the former.
Back Seat Bossing
You say there has been no conflict or rancor, but this is mildly rancorous. You aren’t being too sensitive. Your colleague is trying to usurp your authority or question your judgment in passive aggressive ways. I’m not sure if there is a graceful way forward, but the next time your colleague engages in this behavior, point it out and explain, firmly but gently, why it’s a problem. Someone who wants to be offended will be offended no matter what you do, so focus on being professional, honest, kind and resolute. All you can control is your own behavior.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at [email protected].