Q: A vendor who does business with our company keeps trying to be my friend. “Karen” frequently invites me to have lunch, join her for happy hour or attend various social events. She texts me at random times to ask if she can drop by to say hello. Apparently, she just wants to be my pal.
I’ve got plenty of friends and a very busy job, so I have no desire to start hanging out with Karen. Although I still want to use her as a vendor, this constant intrusion into my life has become quite irritating. If I know she’s in the building, I leave my office to avoid seeing her. How can I get Karen to back off without hurting her feelings?
A: To discourage this unwanted attention, you will have to establish a definite boundary between your personal and professional life. But first you must decide exactly what sort of relationship you want with Karen.
Is an occasional lunch acceptable or do you prefer to see her only in business meetings? Would you like to eliminate all drop-in visits or just reduce their frequency? Once you’ve defined your desired level of interaction, then you need to clearly draw that line.
When Karen sends a “drop by” text, you can say that you’re busy or simply not reply. If she shows up unannounced, pleasantly explain that you’re completely swamped with work. And when she issues social invitations, you must politely, but directly, declare them off limits.
For example: “Karen, I appreciate your inviting me to see the art exhibit. However, my life outside of work is very busy, so I really don’t have time for more social activities. It was nice of you to think of me, though.” If the invites continue, just repeat this response.
If you’re open to having coffee or lunch, attach those events to a business visit. As long as you treat Karen like a valued work colleague, you will have met your professional obligations. Beyond that, you are not responsible for her feelings.
Q: As a corporate videographer, I am constantly juggling multiple projects. My plate is always so full that I feel like I’m drowning. I enjoy what I do, but I’m tired of taking work home every night.
Although our company is very profitable, my repeated requests for another videographer are always denied. Quitting isn’t an option, because these jobs are hard to find. How do I convince management that I need some help?
A: Like many overworked folks, you may have made the mistake of presenting the problem in personal terms, saying things like “I’m completely stressed out” or “I have to work every weekend.” But if you want to get management’s attention, you must clearly explain how this staff shortage is adversely affecting the business.
Given that most managers are reluctant to add people to the payroll, another useful strategy is to request temporary help. Hiring a contract videographer on an as-needed basis might just solve your problem. And if you rack up enough contract hours, eventually the cost may justify a permanent employee.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.