Q. I work at an independent coffee shop. The only thing I don’t love about my job is my co-worker. He will not communicate with me at all, unless I have a work question. Then he is condescending.
At first I tried to make conversation with him, but he would give one-word answers or sometimes not even respond at all. Finally it was making me feel so bad that I just gave up. Now we work in frozen silence.
The thing is, he is very chatty and affable with the customers. I can think of nothing I’ve said or done to offend him. I am a competent worker, helpful and friendly.
I am thinking of telling the owner, “I like everything about working here except the hours I have to work with this person. In fact, I dislike working with him so much that it’s making me want to quit.”
But what is she supposed to do with that? He has been there a long time, and he’s a good, reliable worker.
I feel as though my only option is to quit, which I don’t want to do. Any ideas?
A. Your co-worker is doing his job, which is to serve customers.
Your co-worker doesn’t want to be your chatty friend. Obviously your day would be much more pleasant if you two were buddies, but this is not a requirement of the job, unless his treatment has a direct impact on customers or services.
I suggest being brave enough to confront this yourself, without involving the boss. Tell him, “You don’t seem comfortable with me. Is there a problem?”
If he blows you off, you should tell yourself that he is just a curmudgeon.
Q. I receive many e-mails from friends — jokes, stories, etc. — but also many politically oriented ones. I really don’t care about their political beliefs. Additionally, the e-mails are often downright offensive.
How do I stop them from sending these types of emails without offending them or negatively affecting our friendship?
A. I have learned from professional (and personal) experience that you cannot stop people from sending whatever mail they want to send.
The beauty of e-mail is that you can control the process from your end. You can choose to selectively delete an e-mail based on its subject line without opening it, or if there are people in your life who only send this sort of objectionable mail, you can create a “rule” in your e-mail system, consigning all mail from a particular address to a specific folder -- or straight into the spam file.
Q. You recently printed a letter from a young woman, “Of Sound Mind,” who felt strongly that she would never want to bear children.
You subsequently followed up with another letter from a woman who suggested that “Of Sound Mind” might change her mind about wanting children, as she herself had.
I must share my own experience. At 17 I felt certain that I would never want children.
When I was married, many people encouraged us to have children, even though we didn’t want them, because they were sure that we would one day regret our decision.
It took me years to find a gynecologist willing to perform a tubal ligation. But it was absolutely the right decision for me. I’m 62 years old now and have never for one minute regretted the decision to live happily child-free.
A. Thank you for presenting this important point of view.