Q. What would be the best way to solve this issue: a colleague in the cubicle next to mine passes gas all the time?C. P., San Ramůn, CA
A. You have two choices: live with it or talk to him. Which is best is really up to you. Unfortunately, approaching co-workers about personal issues is difficult, even for a friend. If you arenít a friend who has his trust and respect, it will be difficult to have a successful conversation, so you may have to talk with someone who is that friend or your manager about how to proceed. If you are that friend, itís very important not to display an accusatory attitude that implies heís doing this intentionally to annoy you. Instead, if you talk to him, base your conversation on your concern for him as a person and his success as a colleague. Do it with the goal of improving the situation and, hopefully, building rather than hurting your relationship with him.
In addition, itís important to recognize that there may be a physiological/medical reason for his flatulence. Obviously, this conversation should take place in a private place and everything discussed should remain completely confidential. ďTom, Iíve got to ask you about something that really is difficult for me to bring up. But I know itís something that may affect your chances for success. Is everything all right with you because I canít help but notice how often you pass gas?Ē Once youíve broached the subject and asked the question, you can discuss options with him to remedy the situation, whatever the cause.
Q. When at a business event serving a meal, usually on circular tables, and your back is to the podium, is it appropriate to completely turn your chair around to face the speaker or should you only partially turn the chair and strain your neck?T. R., San Diego, CA
A. If the talk is going to be more than a few opening or closing remarks itís reasonable to turn your chair around. In fact, as a courtesy to the speaker, itís the appropriate thing to do.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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