Q. My female boss has suggested that we share a hotel room at a multiple-day conference weíll be attending together. Although Iím also female, Iím uncomfortable with this because I donít particularly care for her on a personal level and get quite tired of being around her during a regular work day. The conference will involve 12-hour days. Iíll need my personal space at the end of the day to recharge and do my best the next day. I don't know how to approach this issue with her in a way that will preserve our working relationship. I was thinking about proposing to pay half the cost of my own room as one alternative. Other suggestions?
S. M. W., Denver, CO
A. This clearly is a difficult situation. Businesses are seeking to cut costs wherever possible. I canít blame them. They'd rather cut costs than cut people. Given that youíre both adults and both of the same gender, itís reasonable for your company to want to have you share a room. Therefore, if you wish to have a room to yourself, your offer to pay for half the cost is a reasonable place to start any negotiating, although you may end up paying the entire cost yourself.
The etiquette of the situation comes in the way you express your reason for not sharing a room. What wonít work is to be brutally honest: ďJane, I understand the companyís position, but really, after twelve hours working with you, I donít think I could stand sharing a room with you, too.Ē That approach will cause more trouble than itís worth. Instead, keep the focus on you and not on your boss. ďJane, this may sound selfish of me, but after a long day, I know Iíll need some space. If itís possible, Iíd like to have my own room, and Iím willing to pay for half of it. I know Iíll be more productive and focused during the conference if I can have my own room. Would the company be willing to do this?Ē