Thursday Ask The Lady: Eavesdropping Over The Cubicle Wall

Cherished readers, firstly The Lady begs your pardon for being absent from the blog this week. Some tasks came up that needed her attention and she needed to focus on them. She is heartily sorry for not posting.

Secondly, Today’s question. Many years ago, The Lady was employed at a large insurance company and had her very own cubicle. She can relate to the writer of today’s question. Enjoy!

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

I work in a large office on a floor with approximately 100 other people. We work in our own little cubicle villages, but as you can imagine there is very little privacy. There is one co-worker who is ridiculously obnoxious to all of us around her. She listens to every conversation, both business and personal, and pokes her head over the wall and comments or advises without invitation. While I realize anything you say on the floor can be overheard, I find the fact that she makes no bones about letting us all know she knows what is going on and seems almost proud that she is an eavesdropper. So what do we do? I am writing not just for myself but for the group of us who are forced to sit near her. 

Frustrated in Cubicle Purgatory

Dear Frustrated,

Oh my.

The Lady prefaces her answer by acknowledging that this person may be lonely and just looking for something to talk about. Also, she might not even realize what she is doing is rude because of the expectation of no privacy on the floor. If she is one of these people and you will know it usually, The Lady advises kindness. Just smile at her when she comments or thank her. Maybe even taking a break together and being friendly will help. Steer subjects to things other than work. The lonely and the clueless can generally be rehabilitated.

If you suspect that this is not the case with this person and you find she just enjoys feeling in charge and in control, when she starts to advise you about business, cut her off and say “Thank you, SoandSo, I have it covered.” If you all do this, The Lady believes that this will stop.

If it is a personal conversation, again cut her off and pointedly say, “That was a private matter that I do not wish to discuss it with you.”

The problem with eavesdroppers is that they only hear one side of things and their advice (and the gossip that they pass) only applies to their one-sided listening. If this is truly bothersome and disruptive to work, The Lady is sure that HR can call a meeting on the matter and address it as a department or company issue.

Best Work Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Asking For A Raise

Cherished readers, today’s question is one that The Lady thinks can be universally helpful: how to ask for a raise.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett:

I’ve been working the same company for seven years. I’ve held many different positions, learning each quickly as I was shuffled around. I am now at the point where I can do pretty much everything if needed. I don’t think I am compensated enough and I wanted to know how I can discuss this subject and ask for a raise while not seeming to brag about myself. Frankly, I am quite accomplished, but I do not want to seem like I am boastful.

Underpaid and Undervalued

Dear Underpaid and Undervalued,

The Lady can sympathize with your plight and assures you that you are not alone in your feelings. It will not be construed as bragging if you have actually achieved these tasks at work and approach your boss in a thoughtful manner. In business circles, speaking frankly of work accomplishments can be seen as confidence and high self-esteem.  When you meet with your boss or HR representative, you may cite special projects that you have completed, the length of time you have been employed (especially if you are one of the old retainers that have stayed while newer hires have left), the efficiency with which you perform your duties etc…These are all FACTS and certainly not bragging.

The Lady makes this caution, however. You should never try to negotiate from the position of ‘needing more money’ but from the position of your worth and value to the company. Certainly, if you can fill in for any position at any moment’s notice as you state, you are a jewel to the company and will not be an employee that any smart employer will want to lose. Be confident and boldly ask!

Best Raise Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett