Q: My company has a shared calendar system. For most people, it’s no issue, but one coworker is weird about it. He saw that a colleague and I had private appointments at the same time and says in front of other people that we must be dating; he asks publicly how people are feeling if they had doctor’s appointments scheduled. He also puts in “appointments” on other people’s calendars with little messages, unrelated to work. What do we do? There has to be some shared calendar etiquette, right?
A: Any of you, or a manager, can tell this buttinski that the calendar is for work efficiency, not his nosiness or amusement. Private appointments are private for a reason. Get well messages are unwelcome unless you’ve specifically told the person you were ill. And communicating through the calendar with messages in this fashion is totally inappropriate. Don’t spend one more day letting this person step over the line.
Any time you share any kind of space—whether it’s digital space, office space, or airplane space—there is an etiquette that needs to be observed. When someone doesn’t properly observe that etiquette, you might kindly assume they don’t know any better. In that case, you should say something to correct the situation and share information with them before anger and resentment get out of hand. Any one of you, or this person’s manager, needs to talk to him right away and let him know that, while he seems to be operating out of what he believes is thoughtfulness, it’s intrusive and inappropriate for the workplace.
Beyond a direct conversation, multiple times if needed, there isn’t anything you can do unless the issue needs to be escalated. You shouldn’t have to monitor how you use your calendar if your manager has let you know it’s appropriate. Shared calendars exist in the workplace for a reason—there is information to be shared among colleagues, but specifics don’t always need to be revealed or reviewed by others unless it impacts them. People use private appointments to show that their time is unavailable for meetings or other work-related functions, not as an invitation for others to ask about what they were doing. It’s not only a total waste of your colleague’s—and the company’s—time to browse other people’s calendars, it’s also inappropriate. Jokes about dating could be cause for a harassment conversation, so this situation could easily move into more serious territory if someone doesn’t address the problem soon.
You can also block this colleague and not allow him to make any changes to your calendar—but that’s the passive approach and only solves half the problem. The more assertive, effective approach is for someone to address him directly about the practice and make it clear that it is not welcome.