By Jody Valley
‘Trapped’ in the open
Q: I am a 43 year old woman. (I guess you want to know such things.) I just started a new job. I am a supervisor of a program, human services for the most part. It is a job I really like. I especially like the people I work with. My only problem is that we all have cubicles rather than offices. I have never worked in a cubical before and I find that it has many problems.
First, I believe that all the clients we work with in the program should have privacy. In a cubicle there is no privacy. No matter how low you talk if the client can hear you so can those outside the cubicle. Often the people we work with have problems that they don’t want others to hear.
Then on top of that I am a supervisor of 10 staff. It is almost impossible to be a good supervisor when you can’t have any privacy. I have had people in my office crying about things in their life. I’ve had to talk with folks about job difficulties they are having and I even had to fire a person in my cubicle. To add to this difficulty people do not respect a sign that I put saying, “do not disturb.” They will come to my office, stand at the door, see the “do not disturb sign” and say, “This is just a quick question, do you mind?” Even if I say that I do mind I have already been disturbed. I can be talking with someone in my office and people lurk outside my cubicle opening waiting for me. Sometimes they reach in and give me paper or put something on my desk. This is very intrusive when I am talking with someone. None of these things would happen if I had a door and it was closed.
I have talked to them about the problem in a staff meeting and everyone agrees it is a problem, but this hasn’t stopped the problem. I spoke with my boss about getting a door, but she says “no.” Besides, it isn’t just a problem for me; we all are having the same problem. Do you have any suggestions on how to have staff respect space in cubicles?
In Cubical Hell
A: I, too, have worked in cubicles and the same types of problems occurred. The first thing I would do is to have a serious talk about your concerns with your staff. Have them come up with cubicle etiquette rules that they are willing to follow. You will get much better results if you all agree on the rules. Then when they break them, you will need to point it out right away so they will know you are serious. If they come by and ask a question when your “do not disturb sign” is up say something like, “No I can’t talk with you now, as you can see my sign is up,” and go back to work. If they continue to break rules that everyone has agreed upon, go back to the group and ask what needs to happen next for all to keep the rules. Let them know how serious you are. Good luck, and if anyone else out there has had the same problem and came up with a solution, let me know so I can pass it on.
Dwindling flame at home
Q: I have been with my boyfriend for about two months. We are both in our late 20s. We recently moved in together and I have found some things out about him that are causing some problems. When we first started dating, he was very attentive and caring. He planned special dates, bought me flowers, called me several times a day. He couldn’t seem to get enough of me. Now that we are living together, he watches TV, reads books and generally lies around. He says it’s because he’s relaxed now and that things always change when people move in together. He thinks I should be happy just being with him, but I feel like a piece of furniture. What do you think? This is the first time I have ever lived with anyone. Is this the way it always is?
A: Just because the chase is over doesn’t mean you should feel like a piece of furniture. Though in the dating time, things tend to be more intense than in the commitment stage, couples need to continue to make their partner’s feel special. Decide what you want your relationship to be like and find out if he is willing to make some changes, so you can both be satisfied. If not, perhaps you will want to move on to someone that understands that a commitment relationship is not the end, it’s the beginning.