RadioBDC Logo
Stubborn Love | The Lumineers Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

TMI (Too Much Information)

Posted by Peter Post  April 19, 2012 07:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

"What is the best way to confront a co-worker who commonly discusses her bodily functions out loud and in detail? Our office is small, and she makes no attempt to be discreet. We really don't want to hear about her bathroom habits or her other inappropriate issues. Is this just a lack of manners or complete ignorance on her part? Help!"

L. M., Clearfield, PA

Almost assuredly, it’s ignorance. Because if it’s not, it implies she is intentionally trying to gross out you and your co-workers. If that’s the case, talking to her about the issue won’t help; it will only reinforce her behavior because she’ll see it is having the desired effect. A manager will have to step in and lay down the law. Her continued rude behavior could create an unpleasant work environment and negative morale problems, which will lead to lower productivity and profits.

Ignorance can be addressed—first by co-worker(s) and then, if necessary, by a manager. It could be as simple as responding to her right when she says something vulgar, “Jane, that is really too much information. Instead, I’d enjoy hearing more about your vacation.” Keep a light or neutral tone, or even try a little humor. The idea is to clue her in and then move on. It may take a couple of “TMI” notices to raise Jane’s awareness that certain topics are off limits.

Alternatively, a colleague with whom Jane is friendly could try having a private, one-on-one talk with her. That private conversation can focus on the issue and not on embarrassing Jane in front of her other coworkers. “Jane, I want to bring up an issue that you may not be aware of. I’m speaking to you as your friend, and I hope, if the roles were reversed, that you’d do the same for me. Sometimes when we’re all talking, you bring up information that really is better kept private.” A couple of specific examples could help illustrate what the colleague is talking about. And then the colleague could conclude with, “I’d be more comfortable, and I’m sure some of the other people at work would be, too, if you kept such information private. Is that okay with you?” It is important to ask the concluding question to elicit a response from Jane. If she agrees, great; if not, then it is likely time to bring the issue to your manager for her to handle.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 

about this blog

From looking for a job to dealing with the one you have, our Job Docs are here to answer your employment-related questions.

e-mail your question

Name:
E-mail:
Your question/comment:

Meet the Jobs Docs

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.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.

archives