Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Mar 15, 2006

Meeting on the Boss' Bad Habits

Instructor, Caroline Bender
Here's an awkward moment for the new professional or new staff member:
Boss says, "Come have a drink/smoke/bone/lap dance with me and we'll talk about it more."

See how the range of activity suddenly reveals your boundaries?

What's a girl to do?
Miss Bender encountered this scene this morning when New Boss invited her for the privilege of standing in the cold and breathing his smoke while he delivered a briefing that was already complete by the time the elevator hit the lobby. "This is a coveted privilege," he said, "because you will have my full attention."

His lungs, one can assume, would be doing the rest of the work.

My advice on this issue is to gauge the importance of taking a stand. What's your issue?

Are you in recovery?
Maybe this really is a struggle for you, to be around the vice you are trying to kick. And most people with vices are trying to kick them. So maybe you could offer, "I'm trying to quit. Let me catch you when you get back." (or before you go, as suits the situation)

Is it a health issue?
Too cold/hot out, can't be around a lot of people, sprained your ankle.... what have you got?

Is this creeping you out?
Are you afraid people will start saying about you what you heard them saying about the last woman he took out smoking and drinking? For after work events, try "I am expected at home." For mid-workday events, try a different kind of lie. Like you're trying to quit. Or have a health issue. You will have to practice this to have it fresh in your mind. I didn't.

Is it just rude?
Here's where I was. Rude...and annoying to be put in this situation. So I took the meeting. In my youth, I would have smoked as well. But I hear it's bad for you. After I've banked some more credibility with New Boss, I'll decline, with something like the recovery answer, without the recovery part. A full year from now, I'll be able to say something like, "That's no fun for me."

Is that your good cashmere sweater?
Take the meeting and be very annoying about where you stand. Wave your hands a lot and stand about 20 feet away, shifting everytime the wind does. Or ask for a wipe-down of the bar, and refuse to sit on the stool. He won't ask you again.

Do you enjoy such vice?
Then do it. Maybe some good will come of it.

To be fair here, the Boss isn't really testing you. He or she enjoys this activity, and doesn't get it that you don't. Rude, obtuse, inappropriate? Perhaps. But not mean-spirited. Decline nicely, as you would a peer and find a quite escape.

Females executives who like to talk in the stalls will be covered in a different post.


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