Columns

He Really Stepped In It & Coworkers Need To Work On Their Attitude

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

DEAR CAT: I was on a fourth date with a guy I really like a lot. We went on a hike in a park about 45 minutes from the city (we’re in Chicago) so we had driving time, too, which I was looking forward to so we could listen to music and relax. About twenty minutes into our hike he stepped in doggie doo doo and really freaked out. He was swearing, angrily throwing his arms in the air, he even showed passersby! Those people laughed and made a “what can you do?” gesture and walked on. I was shocked and very turned off by his temper tantrum over something like that. I was carrying a bunch of paper towels so he got most of it off but his attitude never returned to normal and I dreaded the car ride home. As I expected, during the ride home all he did was bitch about his ruined shoes. When I tried to change the subject he huffed and gave short responses. He left for a business trip the next day and I’m considering not seeing him anymore. I was somewhat embarrassed by his tantrum and it makes me worry what he’d be like if something truly bad happened. Am I overreacting? — THEY’RE JUST SHOES!

DEAR SHOES: I’m with you, temper tantrums are a big red flag. It’s understandable to get angry about poo’d shoes but not that angry. His unwillingness – or inability – to snap out of it is a worrying sign. As your signature says, they’re just shoes! What happened is certainly not enough to ruin an entire day with your new special someone. If this was the only inkling you’ve seen of his dark side, maybe give him another chance, but only if your instincts say so. If your heart’s not in it, don’t bother. That hiking day should have been happy and romantic, instead it was miserable, and who needs that? Plus, if he’s that much of a prima donna….Cat’s Call: He’s probably not too much fun.

DEAR CAT: DEAR CAT: I work at a place where I am feeling constantly attacked and I think they are trying to get rid of me. I do my job correctly and with 110% effort. But there have been issues with my e-mails that I am not always 100% with them. Recently I talked with a coworker about “assisting” me and later I heard her talking to someone else about it. The other person said it has been an issue from the start. I told my boss that I was going to take a class to help me with one of my issues and he said, “good idea!” My first point is, if it’s been an issue from the start, why didn’t my coworkers tell me so I could work on it and correct myself? My second point is, why did they talk about me behind my back? We work in a professional setting, we are not in high school. I don’t know what to do about their attitude. I have asked them to tell me when they find errors with my work so I can correct myself but obviously they prefer to let things linger and get frustrated. — LET ME KNOW!

DEAR LET: Who knows if your coworkers are trying to oust you, it’s more likely they just have nothing better to talk about. Or…you may not want to hear this…they are tired of seeing the same errors over and over. Unfortunately the burden is not on them to continually ‘correct’ you. Still, most people are non-confrontational and would rather snipe in private than face issues in person. It’s a great idea to get training in whatever area is troubling you – not only will you fare better professionally but those coworkers will have less ammo. I must point out that despite your effort, you’re obviously not doing the job 100% correctly. That’s okay and your boss is behind you but it’s always best to double (or triple) check your work….Cat’s Call: Instead of waiting for the peanut gallery to comment on it.

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: questions@catscall.com or click here!.

  1. Cat’s advice to Shoes is spot on. For something that minor, I could understand a few quick expletives and being upset for a minute or two, then simply clean off the shoes, let it go and get on with your day. Anything more than that is a huge red flag, and she has every right to worry what he’d be like if something truly bad happened. Shoes needs to trust her instincts and head for zee hills!

    I don’t quite understand LMK’s e-mail. He/she starts by stating that “I do my job correctly”. Then in the very next sentence LMK contradicts that by stating that “there have been issues with my e-mails that I am not always 100% with them”. It’s obvious from this e-mail that LMK has “issues” communicating properly, so I agree with Cat in calling out LMK for his/her shortcomings and to quit trying to blame others for them. If LMK was in fact doing the job correctly, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    — Matt in Pittsburgh    12/06/11    Reply

  2. Just Shoes: I agree with Cat. The dog doo was random and no one’s fault, but what happens when you do something (even minor) that makes him angry? Will he be huffy and crappy to you all day because you accidentally broke a plate at his house or burnt dinner a bit? I don’t think I’d hang around to see- go with your gut and drop him. This guy seems like a downer.

    — Isidora, Pittsburgh    12/06/11    Reply

  3. TJS,
    This guy is scary. run.
    What’s going to happen when you have kids and the kid barfs on the guy’s clean suit before work?
    What’s going to happen when a pot of rice boils over and the stove gets messy and smells burned?
    This was a HUGE wake up call. – call yourself lucky.

    — s.    12/06/11    Reply

  4. I noticed too when she said she does her job correctly but then not exactly correctly. You want to feel bad for her because she tries very hard but trying hard and doing right are different. I think of the mail carrier who tries hard but always puts the wrong person’s mail in the box. This happened the last place I lived. He was a nice man and apologized for messing up all the time but come on. If you are alerted to a problem and you don’t fix it what are other people supposed to do? The one thing Cat did not say is you can’t change other peoples behavior. The coworkers will talk, that is life. LET ME KNOW has a choice, do the job 100% correctly and then she can complain about her coworkers complaining when they have no reason to.

    RE: poo’d shoes: dump him.

    — Hedgeclipper in Wisc.    12/06/11    Reply

  5. I agree with everyone she should get rid of Senor Poo Shoe. Hear me out though, maybe he wasn’t ranting about the dog who left it, more like he was pissed someone didn’t clean up after their dog. My hiking shoes are in the area of $250 and I would be pissed if they got ruined right after buying them. You can wipe poo off the sole but if it gets smeared all over suede you’ll never get it out completely. That wouldn’t ruin my day though. It wouldn’t ruin five minutes. I’d be pissed for a second then laugh because nature happens. That guy belongs in a gym, not a hiking trail.

    I must take issue with Let Me Know for the same reason others have suggested. The workplace is not romper room. Problems must be addressed or they linger and affect everyone. I don’t know what it means to not be 100% with emails but there is an issue right there in her description. Do her work emails read like her question? Are they contradictory and confusing? Coworkers are not required to be supportive, only civil. They were talking privately and she overheard them. Too bad. Take the classes you need to take and finally do the job 100% before whining about how hard you try. You may not realize other people are left picking up your slack which means they have to try even harder than their normal 100%.

    — John Pittsburgh    12/06/11    Reply

  6. Just Shoes – I’m so happy to read that you have reservations about this guy already – because you should. I was married to someone for 15 years who had that type of anger. Thankfully, he never hit me or my kids, but I can tell you that he would have had that same response to the Poo issue. Unfortunately, he had that same response to me putting forks and spoons together in the dishwasher, or using the brakes too often while driving down a hill, or because I let the dryer beep a few times before getting the clothes out…you get the picture. I can’t tell you how many years I tried to “be better” to avoid his anger. I finally realized that it wasn’t me, but him. On the other hand, your guy may have been so angry because he was embarrassed to have stepped in Poo in front of you. I’m sure that was part of it, but the degree to which he moped about it speaks volumes about his unhappiness in general. It only gets worse. Life is too short to spend with someone like that. I’d tell him to take a hike!!

    — Jenn - Pittsburgh    12/06/11    Reply

  7. Just Shoes- I’m in complete agreeance with the other readers. Run for the hills and never look back. Yes he might have been embarrassed and might have had expensive shoes but after the initial reaction he should have settled down after a few minutes, not let it ruin your day as well. If he overreacted like that (sh*t happens- pun intended) then I can only see it being 10x worse when it’s something that’s actually a big deal. I grew up with a person in my life who had a similar but worse temperament. Those kind of people never change and you deserve better.

    Let Me Know- I too am confused as to what not being 100% with emails means. I do know that sometimes as much as we try to do something, without some help to point you the right way, you could just end up spinning your wheels and not improving. Taking a class is a step in the right direction to improving yourself. It’s unfortunate that you overheard your coworker griping but we’re human and most of us have been known to do it on occasion. I disagree though with it being your coworkers responsibility to point out errors. If these errors are something that’s an issue, it’s one best addressed by your boss. That way there tends to be less animosity amongst you and your coworkers and your boss can offer some constructive advice on how to improve yourself.

    — D, Pittsburgh    12/06/11    Reply

  8. @THEY’RE JUST SHOES,

    You are not overreacting. That guy has some serious anger issues and should be dropped like a hot potato.

    I am curious though… when he went on his tantrum and continued to do so, did you actually say to him something like, “It’s okay. Forget about it. Let’s just have some fun!” or did you avoid the issue while changing the subject? Also, did you let him know that his behaviour is/was over the top?

    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/07/11    Reply

    1. I really don’t think that it is TJS’s responsibility to remind the guy to moderate his behavior or to help him change his focus.
      This is the role of a parent – not a partner. (c’mon sweetheart, stop having a temper tantrum – let’s go and find something else …)

      This guy is not ready to be part of a grown-up relationship if he still needs parenting.

      I repeat my advice – run! fast!!

      — s.    12/07/11    Reply

      1. To use Charlie Brown’s famous expression, “Good grief!”

        Where in my reply did I say it was her responsibility to modify or change anything about his behaviour or anything else?

        I simply was curious if she did either:

        A. Mentioned his behaviour to him and then try to make light of it
        B. Let him know his reaction was over the top in her opinion

        Doing either or both may have difused the situation or maybe not.

        I was just curious because if she did either A or B or both above, what was his specific reaction to it.

        She should still drop him like a hot potato.

        Reading comprehension… good lord.

        — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/07/11    Reply

        1. LeBron,

          While you did not specifically say that it was her responsibility to modify or change anything about his behavior, the way you worded your question suggests that the writer should have done this. I’m sure there is a psychological term for this type of “innocent yet critical” comment. Anybody out there know what it is?

          s. makes a valid and intelligent point.

          Just Shoes: Imagine years of living with this kind of person. Do not even consider giving him another chance.

          — Nancy in Pittsburgh    12/12/11    Reply

          1. @Nancy,

            You are implying something that isn’t there and most likely it is based on how you view my commenting persona. I will even go so far as to call it an inference. So, no hard feelings, but never did I believe that she was responsible to do so. I was merely wondering.

            — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/12/11    Reply

          2. LeBron,
            I totally agree with Nancy and S. The way you worded your advice suggested, to me, that Just Shoes could have/should have done something differently to diffuse his anger. Nancy and S’s point, which I agree with wholeheartedly, is that it is NOT her responsibility to diffuse his anger. I’m sure you were just playing Devil’s Advocate, but this is a subject that comes very close to verbal abuse. We should not be giving women (or men) the suggestion that we need to modify our behavior in order to compensate for someone else’s bad or potentially abusive behavior. Too many women fall into that trap.

            — J - Pittsburgh    12/13/11    Reply

            1. @ J – Pittsburgh,

              Thank goodness our great nation’s legal system does not judge a person or a person’s actions one way or another based on inference, conjecture and feeling, but on just the facts… ma’am.

              — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/13/11    Reply

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