Insensitive Boss

19 Sep

Dear LetterBalm: I have a job I like, with a boss who is appreciative and talented. All is well except that she constantly asks me personal questions about my life that I think she shouldn’t. I’m engaged now, and she wants to know every aspect of my relationship with my fiancé, how our parents have accepted our coming marriage, what we want to do about children, our wedding, and so on. I probably should have nipped this in the bud by not answering when she started probing, but I thought she’d stop – besides, we get along well, so the questions were almost always in good humor. I must stop this, but she’s my boss. Now what?

–Tired of the Questions

You’re in a tough spot. Obviously, you have to be careful when you tell your boss to put a sock in it. You don’t want any fallout from this because it could have a negative impact on your job. So, think carefully what you want to say; rehearse in front of a mirror. You want to be confident, yet empathetic. And, you want to leave your boss with no doubt as to no further intrusive questions. Ms. L.B. advises that you don’t bring up Human Resources now – no threats at this time. But keep the idea in the back of your mind, and, if she doesn’t stop, tell her you will be forced to take it up with HR or her superiors. (Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.) For now, when she asks the next personal question, escort her into her office, close the door, take a deep breath and speak slowly:

Rhoda, I’m very fortunate in this day and age to work at a job I love. A lot of that is due to you. You’re talented and fair, and you always give me more responsibilities and credit me when I do well. This is why what I have to say is a bit difficult. I know that you are interested in my life out of friendliness, but for some time now, I’ve felt uncomfortable with some of your questions. I think it’s best to keep my personal life out of the workplace, and I’m hoping you will understand, and we can move beyond this. I always feel nothing less than a real advantage in working for you, you know that.

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