Posts Tagged ‘rules

13
Apr
11

co worker leaving early

Reader N. A. writes:

I have a new colleague sitting in the cubicle next to mine. He apparently doesn’t understand that we count the hour for lunch as non-work time. So he comes in at 9, takes an hour for lunch, and leaves at 5. What should I do?

Dear N.A.:

You have several options in this case.

1. Tell him yourself.

can't smoke in here

Dude, you can't smoke in here, either. Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be nice about it, but take him aside and give him a heads up. Make it a word of advice from a friendly co-worker, rather than a threat from a rival. You could email him so nobody has to hear you telling him. Just let him know you’ve noticed he takes the hour for lunch and you don’t want him to get in trouble.

2. Tell HR to tell him.

This saves you the embarrassment of having to tell someone how to do their job, but it also makes you the office tattle tale. Of course, it also adds an official measure to the whole ordeal, so if it ends up later he has other work issues beyond abusing the schedule, there’s a case for getting rid of him. Nevertheless, it’s supposed to be HR’s job to inform new employees about official rules and scheduling, so passing them the buck is an entirely viable option.

3. If you don’t have an HR department, tell your supervisor.

Again, this is the tattle tale way to go, but it’s also official and saves you some anonymity, depending on how your supervisor handles it, and on how small your company is. If your supervisor is a good supervisor (I know, a very rare species), they will simply tell your new co-worker the rules without mentioning you. But if they say, “Hey, so-and-so said you’ve been leaving early,” you’re going to end up looking like a douche. If you’re in a small company where it’s going to be obvious anyway, you might as well just sack up them ovaries and tell the co-worker yourself.

4. Don’t say anything.

To be totally honest, this is probably the most right advice I have here. Is it your business that he’s leaving early? Not really. Unless it affects your work personally, it’s probably not a big deal. I know that we all have an urge to make sure everyone is following the rules to a T, because it’s not fair if someone isn’t. But really, why does it bother you that he’s taking an hour for lunch and leaving at a reasonable time? We Americans are such dicks about making work our universe. Office life doesn’t have to be the only life you have. Let the guy have an hour to himself during the work day and get home to his family on time. It’s not going to bring our country down in socialist flames. And don’t forget that by enforcing the rules yourself, you bring yourself under closer scrutiny. Maybe your best route in this case is just to take it upon yourself to allow your co-worker to damn the man for as long as he can. Eventually, someone else will probably notice he’s bending the rules, and he probably won’t get into too much trouble if he’s the new guy and he “just didn’t know”. Let HR do their job, unless you really feel like you’re going to be helping the guy out by ruining his lunch hour.

16
Jul
10

breaking your own rules

Reader S. D. asks:

I have this friend who says she really doesn’t like being in a committed relationship. She always says she would prefer to just be free, especially sexually, and not tied down so much.  Recently she started seeing one guy, and now she’s calling him her boyfriend, and some of us are a little weirded out by it.  She isn’t really interested in getting married or having kids, so I don’t see why (and I think she sees it this way too) she even needs to be in an exclusive relationship.  I don’t want her to be in a relationship just because he thinks she should be, which I think may be the case. Should I confront her about this?

Dear S.D.:

I’m gonna’ use something from my degree in sociolinguistics to explain my opinion on this. It’s going to be a bit of an analogy, and it explains a lot about my world view as a whole, so hold on to your hats for a bit.

sometimes a BF isn't a bad thing

C'mon, how could she say no? Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In language, there are two types of grammar: the one made of prescriptive rules, taught to you by your kindergarten teacher, and the one made of descriptive rules, which you actually speak. When most people hear the word “grammar”, they think of the the prescriptive rules: “You may not end a sentence with a preposition.” etc. Sociolinguists are far more interested in the descriptive rules: “People who speak English often end sentences with prepositions.” “Pre” means “before”; “de” means “after”. In this sense, prescriptive rules prescribe an ideal world and give an outline on how to get there; descriptive rules describe a natural process.

I apply these terms to life, as well. We have prescriptive rules, usually given to us by society (marriage is good; lying is bad; stealing is bad; exercise is good; etc), but if you look at the lives we actually lead, the descriptive rules sometimes say things very different (marriage isn’t always good; sometimes lying is necessary; sometimes stealing happens; sometimes cheeseburgers trump exercise). The natural flow of our lives doesn’t always fit with the rules we have for an ideal. And this doesn’t mean one is bad and the other is good.

So it sounds to me like what your friend has is a prescriptive set of rules about relationships, or maybe you have a prescriptive set of rules for her. “Free” and “unhitched” are what she’s said she wants, so that’s what you want for her, too.

However, maybe life has worked out differently than her prescribed rules (or your prescribed rules) have stated for her. It’s quite possible she’s come to the conclusion that she and this guy are already in an exclusive relationship, so calling it by its name isn’t really so terrible. Maybe having a boyfriend is a good thing for her right now.

Marriage and children aren’t the only things people get out of exclusive relationships, either. This is another set of prescribed rules I think we accept because society says so, but doesn’t really work all the time. The end goal of a relationship with another person is not necessarily producing offspring or standing in front of a priest and reciting vows. Sometimes it’s just enjoying that person’s company.

So, no, I don’t necessarily think you need to confront your friend about her being in a relationship even if she has sworn up and down in the past that she doesn’t want to be in one. (Didn’t you see “500 Days of Summer”?)

If she starts complaining about this relationship specifically, then that is when you need to talk with her about it. You apparently don’t know for certain that he’s the one pressuring your friend to be different than she wants to be. Her caving in to his pressures about the seriousness of the relationship is a touchy subject, and personally, I wouldn’t touch it unless she brings it up, first. Of course, I don’t think “confront” is the right word for how to react in that case; the word I’d look for here is “support”. Also, the old fashioned “I told you so” isn’t really the best idea, either. If she starts complaining about him, then by all means, encourage her to break the thing off. But only if she starts the convo.

But if she’s enjoying herself with this new fellow, and he’s not cramping her style, and maybe she’s actually happy, no. Let descriptive rules trump prescriptive rules (which they always will, btw), and go with it.




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