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Workplace Courtesy

 
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 09:19 am
Had an argument with a coworker today.

Here's the story. I work a shift job that rotates. This means that after 4-5 days of 12 hour shifts, I have 4-5 days off. It's a pretty sweet deal. On those days that I'm off, a different set of teams are at work. These details will be important in understanding the general pattern and time line of events.

On my last day of work before a 5 day break, I managed to forget my coffee mug in a common area at work. Upon returning to to work, and opening my locker, I realized that my mug wasn't in it. I searched the common areas at work, and asked around. The mug was not to be found. I sent an email out to all of the teams (including the teams that were on break) asking if they had seen my mug and described what it looked like.

Today, I received an email from a coworker telling me that they threw away my mug. I was confused as to why a ceramic coffee mug would have been thrown in the trash (as opposed to other options). I had a chance to address said coworker at the end of my shift and they said it was trash. I protested that I felt that he had acted inconsiderately, and that I would have appreciated the chance to collect my belongings. Specifically, my problems was that by time I was aware my mug was not in my locker, it had already been thrown away. The mug in this case was a personal item I was very fond of, and I told him that I didn't understand how it could be considered the same as a wad of paper or a napkin laying around. I certainly didn't mean to leave my mug, and items left accidentally in our work common space is not uncommon. Further, it is not a part of any policy that personal items will be discarded. This was purely his decision to do this.

He was unapologetic. He mocked me, saying that I could stay for the next 12 hours, and I would get no apology. I don't understand the insistence on this kind of stubborn attitude.

The point he was trying to convey to me was that leaving messes in the workplace is inconsiderate to fellow coworkers. I didn't disagree, and I acknowledged that leaving my mug was my fault. I have no history of leaving items behind at work.

I asked him if this is how he would want his items/belongings treated if someone found them. He seemingly intentionally did not reply. I, accepting that I would receive no apology for what had happened, asked that in the future, that he allow for a team to return from break before he threw away personal belongings. This way they would have a chance to know they were missing and to be able to reclaim them.

He rejected my request, instead boasting that he believed he did no wrong. He told me if I have a problem, I should take it to our boss. I replied that this was not an issue that required authority, but rather an extension of common courtesy in the future. Feeling that I was being pulled into a fight, I exited the conversation having said all I could say without repeating myself. I talked with my team on our way out, my team lead could sense I was upset still.

While driving home, I felt myself clinching my teeth. I was angry, and upon realizing it, I knew there still remained a problem. My mug was gone. What was done was done. However, there was the remainder that now I was resentful of a coworker for how they treated my things, and how they treated my grievances.

I've done a lot of conflict management, and mediation, but this topic is about me, so i can't evaluate it without bias. I need to know how I've handled this so far, and how I should resolve this so that I can have a healthy workplace. I have no desire for a conflict like this, nor do I enjoy the feeling of anger. The key word here is "resolution." I don't feel like my grievance was taken seriously because this coworker (while not in my direct line of command, is of a higher position (he is the team lead for a different team). He is amongst 4 people who also ultimately decide how raises turn out. I am having a hard time trusting him after this. I feel he used his position, to ignore my complaint. Should I seek out a mediated meeting with our manager (we have the same manager)?

I don't want to resent a coworker.
I want my belongings to be respected.
I need resolution, so I can trust my coworker.

If any part is unclear, ask me questions. It's 11:18AM and I just got off a 12 hour shift, so I am a bit tired to go into every detail of our argument.

T
K
O
 
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 09:35 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
Should I seek out a mediated meeting with our manager (we have the same manager)?
I wouldn't, it seems it would create more conflict. From what you wrote, your coworker is not going to agree with you. I would just make sure you don't leave anything out again. Your mug is gone, accept that and go on.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  3  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 09:51 am
@Diest TKO,
Steal his mug and throw it away. Then, when he asks about it, refuse to apologize.

What an asshole.

Did I mention I'm not good at conflict resolution? Smile

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:02 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
I need to know how I've handled this so far, and how I should resolve this so that I can have a healthy workplace.


If you handled it exactly like you related I don't think you did anything wrong. Of course, it's very rare for that to be the case, and usually when recounting arguments after the fact one becomes more reasonable in the rehash. So if there are angry words on your part that you are leaving out we obviously won't have the whole picture.

Quote:
Should I seek out a mediated meeting with our manager (we have the same manager)?


I don't think pursuing above him would help you much. They aren't going to punish him enough to make the additional resentment that would cause go away or anything and they may well resent being brought into a conflict over a mug and think less of you for it as well.

I'd do something like get a new mug that says "Not trash: Do not throw away!" or something else funny that makes light of the whole situation.
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:03 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
I'd do something like get a new mug that says "Not trash: Do not throw away!" or something else funny that makes light of the whole situation.


Superb solution...people admire folks that can make light of these situations.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:10 am
@Diest TKO,
Hmm....

What kind of relationship do you have with your boss? I might bend the boss's ear and say, "you know, something kinda odd happened the other day...."

I wouldn't make it a big or formal deal, but the boss should know that there's a disruptive, bullying team member.

Throwing away a personal item is very aggressive. A normal response on finding a random mug would be to place it in a sink, or put a post-it on it saying "please put away your stuff".
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:13 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
I don't want to resent a coworker.

This person is begging to be resented, so don't sweat it.

Diest TKO wrote:
I want my belongings to be respected.

This was a very aggressive action, and in effect is an announcement that this person does not respect you or your belongings.

Diest TKO wrote:
I need resolution, so I can trust my coworker.

You cannot trust this person. Be on your guard, and make sure he can't frame you for his screw-ups or deliberately sabotage you.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:34 am
@DrewDad,
I'm with DrewDad, keep it cool but do not let it go unannounced as these things have way of coming back and biting you in the ass when you least expect it.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 11:11 am
I'd beat the guy to death in the parking lot, but of course clean up the mess so other co-workers would not get annoyed.

Your colleague happens to be an asshole who thinks he is both cute and invulnerable. Show him he is wrong on both accounts.

There are of course other, more sneaky ways to **** over a colleague. especially if you know he is cheating the company or his wife.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 11:26 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
Should I seek out a mediated meeting with our manager (we have the same manager)?


No. Personally I think you took this too far already.

You've learned a couple of things - most importantly, don't take things you value in any way to work.

It might be useful to speak to someone - not your mutual manager, someone in HR or facility management perhaps - about the development of a standard protocol in regard to the common areas at work. Who keeps them clean, what happens to stuff that's left behind etc. Establish a framework.

You may get ragged on for being involved in the development of the protocol - word's probably out about you and your mug - but at least your image would become proactive v reactive.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 11:31 am
I don’t blame you for being angry. It is a disregard for personal property. How hard would it be to simply push it aside or leave it in a cabinet and then send an email saying a mug was left out and put in the cabinet, if it is picked up by XYZ date it will be thrown away? That being said you need to work with this person and like you said what’s done is done. I would let this particular incident go, but maybe ask your boss if there could be some policy in place to prevent this is the future.

Or go with cycloptichorn’s suggestion " not a bad second option.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 11:41 am
Another vote for the customized coffee mug.
McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 11:44 am
That sucks. Spiteful co workers are the worse and all they do is make life hard for others to make up for their own personal bitterness.

I agree though that you probably will not get anywhere escalating this. Just keep it in the back of your mind and wait until his day comes.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:02 pm
@joefromchicago,
How about a "cute" nickname for the guy, like "Tosser".
0 Replies
 
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:05 pm
@Diest TKO,
I tend to agreet with ehbeth. I do not agree with those who think you should 'get' the guy etc.

I don't think it has been mentioned or discussed, but I am wondering if there is some kind of past history with this co-worker? Have there been previous incidents of any nature? Was there a previous good working relationship? Does this co-worker treat everybody this way, or just you?

I used to have a special mug at work, but I washed it and put it into my credenza every night. If anybody left a mug in a common area, whoever found it would put it in the kitchen cupboard or the dishwasher. We had respect for each other and others property.

Is it possible to replace the mug? If so, I would do that and take better care of it in the future. No, I am not saying it was your fault. I am saying that you must take responsiblility if nobody else will.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:12 pm
**** all this 'passive response, do nothing' noise. The guy is a jerk, he's not on your team, so what do you care?

Glue his stapler, tape and various other items to the desk, and next time you see him, give him a casual salute and a little wink.

Cycloptichorn
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:27 pm
If he's overreacting to your coffee mug being left behind, imagine what he might be saying about how your team works. Not knowing exactly what you do, complaints about other shifts leaving work, not cleaning up, not doing xyz are fairly common in shift work. This sounds like something in the same vein. I imagine thoughts like "that other team leaves us a mess all the time" going through his mind when he decides, most likely in front of others, that he's going to show you who's boss by tossing your mug. (Like Drewdad said, it was an aggressive move.)

I agree with the new mug suggestion and with trying to deal with it in a humorous way. But I might also talk to my team lead about it and ask if there can't be some interteam communication at the leader level that establishes some sort of basic expectations about common areas between shifts. As others have noted, this is one of those things that can easily be turned back on him and escalated. Nobody wants that. Your leader has a certain amount of responsibility for shielding you from the bullshit of others.
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  3  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:55 pm
@Diest TKO,
Do nothing. The dude's an ass, and you aren't going to change that. Ignore him in the future. An eagle does not hunt flies.

Let him be the sheriff of his little world.

http://img34.imageshack.us/img34/8621/dwightsheriff.jpg
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 02:14 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

**** all this 'passive response, do nothing' noise. The guy is a jerk, he's not on your team, so what do you care?

Glue his stapler, tape and various other items to the desk, and next time you see him, give him a casual salute and a little wink.

Cycloptichorn


Yeah, do something really cool like that.

Then, make an ice cream cake that spells out R-E-V-E-N-G-E, and give it to him saying "here, this is best served cold"


No - seriously, I'm on the team that says just drop it at this point.

The guy's a douche bag.
He knows it, and so does everyone else.

I know what it feels like to have your stuff tossed out, whether perishable or non-perishable at work, that were totally fine.

I believe you need to handle this on a person to person basis, as you did, and not drag management into it. To bring something like a coffee mug, even if it held sentimental value for you, to the boss would just make a person sound like someone who needs their hand held all the time.
I'd just avoid the guy, but when having to deal with him, just keep it professional and with a detached distance.
I think he's trying to get a rise out of you....be a bigger person than that.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  0  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 02:15 pm
@Ticomaya,
Ticomaya wrote:

An eagle does not hunt flies.

Let him be the sheriff of his little world.

http://img34.imageshack.us/img34/8621/dwightsheriff.jpg



heh....exactly
0 Replies
 
 

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