Dear Annie: My cubicle is separated by a low wall from "Terri," the woman who works next to me.
Here's the problem: I might be talking with seven other people near me at different times and we could be whispering, but Terri manages to hear the conversation and always has an opinion to add. Every associate who works near Terri has an issue with her constant opinions, her butting into other people's conversations, and the incessant talk about her failing marriage, her difficult kids and her finances. We don't invite these personal conversations, especially because no matter what you say, you are wrong and she is right.
Management has spoken to the rest of us, saying we shouldn't talk about Terri when she isn't present, because it creates negativity in the workplace. Yet they say nothing about her constant, disruptive yapping during an eight-hour shift. The sound of her voice stresses me out so much that it's hard to maintain a professional manner around her, and I'm afraid that little negative remarks are slipping out.
How can we make Terri mind her own affairs until she is invited into the conversation? How can we get her to do some work (and let us do ours) instead of blabbing all day about her personal problems? -- Ready to Tear My Hair Out
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Dear Ready: Let's start with the obvious -- you don't like Terri and you have been excluding her from your conversations. She responds by talking and butting in, so that she feels part of the workplace environment. You respond with annoyance.
Imagine how you would react if you were frozen out of your co-workers' conversations. Have you tried including her? Doing so now and then will make it easier to ask for some quiet time when you both need to finish your work. But if she still cannot stop talking, the next step is headphones and a smile.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Perplexed Grandmother," who has been unable to establish a connection with her 3-year-old grandson because the family lives with the daughter-in-law's parents and she has limited contact.
Your advice was good, and I agree that she should talk to her son about taking a more active role in his child's safety. I have another suggestion for Grandma to get closer. I have many friends who live far from their children and grandchildren and they have solved this problem with FaceTime or Skype. Over the phone or computer, they read books to the kids, have lunch "together" and simply enjoy regular conversations. This is what military families do, and it works just as well for everyone else who lives far away from their grandchildren.
Please remember this as an option. You would be surprised how many of the older generation manage to make this high-tech connection. -- M.
Dear M.: We have often mentioned how easy it is to keep in touch with far-flung family members through smartphones and laptops. We hope those who haven't yet tried the technology will learn how.
Dear Readers: Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Administrative Professionals Day. If you have assistants who make your job easier, please let them know they are appreciated.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.