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Guarding the gate or not

Q. As the new administrator for a small office, I also handle all receptionist duties. Several of my boss’s colleagues occasionally drop in without an appointment and literally walk past me to head into his office. I believe he has created this environment by not setting boundaries initially. My boss, not being one for confrontation, would like me to intercept visitors. How do I stop them without being rude and set boundaries from this point forward?
C. S., Atlanta, GA.

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A. Regardless of whether he deals well with confrontation or not, your boss has given you the task and authority to guard his gate, even from his colleagues. That authority is the key to solving this situation. The difference between your success and failure lies not in if you deal with the colleagues but rather how you deal with them. Fortunately, you are new to the position and can create your own protocol. First, speak with your boss and let him know how you intend to handle visitors. From now on, whenever one of his offending colleagues starts cruising past you, you plan on saying, “Excuse me, Mr. Jones. Mr. Smith has asked me to announce all visitors. Please, if you would just wait here for a minute, I’ll check with him.” Then ask your boss if he would prefer you to call him on the intercom or check with him in person. By asking him how he wants you to announce visitors you get his implicit support of your plan. Good luck.

Q. If a husband and wife are both employees at the same company, how should a card of sympathy be addressed, if the deceased is the mother of the wife?

B. K., East Stroudsburg, PA

A. Sympathy notes may be addressed to an individual or to the family of the deceased. If you only know the wife, then address your note to her. If you know both husband and wife, then it’s kind to address your note to both. In the note express sympathy to Mrs. Jones personally, as well as to the family.


More from this blog on: Etiquette at Work , Office Issues