How Much for That Doggie in the Cubicle?


I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough go of it and hope your state of affairs improves, and rapidly. We are in a pandemic. Nothing is regular, and employers have to acknowledge that their workers are human beings in human our bodies.

The proliferation of Zoom since the begin of the pandemic appears to have additionally ushered in unwelcome feedback about my look. I used to be informed by one male colleague that I ought to attempt to convey extra “energy” once I’m on video calls — regardless of feeling fully exhausted, in the center of a worldwide pandemic, and attempting my greatest to stay sane whereas I try to assist my school-age children deal with the challenges of distant studying. A yr later, I’m on one other name, at a special firm, and the very first thing one other male colleague says is that I look too “serious” once I’m on video calls.

In each of those circumstances, I didn’t know both man very effectively, nor had I labored with both of them for very lengthy. In each situations, I felt too caught off guard to reply in the second. However, I did write a follow-up e mail to the first man to clarify that I felt like his feedback had been unwarranted and unfair given the state of the world at the time.

In the unlucky occasion that this occurs once more, what ought to I say to point that some of these feedback should not OK?

— Anonymous, Washington

The well mannered response:

I invite you to stop commenting on my appearance immediately. It’s none of your concern and has nothing to do with our work together.”

The much less well mannered response is to repeat what they mentioned proper again to them however turned up a notch. For instance, in the event that they comment that you just look drained, inform them they give the impression of being haggard. They’ll get the message, ultimately.

I lately attended a convention that occurred a 90-minute drive away. My co-worker and I agreed to separate the driving. She drove first, and informed me how delicate she was about her driving abilities and the way she’d gotten formally reprimanded by our boss years in the past. As we acquired onto the interstate, I understood why. She drove like an absolute maniac. We had been in the 90s, weaving in and out of lanes, and at one level she pulled out her cellphone, at which level I mentioned she wanted to concentrate on the street.

That comment made her very, very sad (although she did put the cellphone down). She is initially from one other nation the place the driving habits could also be completely different, however I felt genuinely fearful for my life. But I additionally felt nervous about poisoning our work relationship and probably jeopardizing her job.

Aside from taking up all driving duties in the future — which might tire me out and make me very resentful — how can I inform her with out hurting her emotions that she drives like somebody who appears to wish to die?

I drive with a heavy foot however driving at greater than 90 m.p.h.? That’s a bit a lot. Sometimes it’s important to inform a colleague a troublesome fact. You can’t management how your co-worker receives your suggestions. I might tactfully inform her that her driving makes you are feeling unsafe. Note that you’d desire her to drive nearer to the velocity restrict and device-free. She will be delicate about her driving however she doesn’t have the proper to jeopardize your life or the lives of these with whom she shares roadways.

Roxane Gay is the writer, most lately, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion author. Write to her at