I never like to hear people cuss but it bothers me even more when I have to deal with it at my work because it’s not only a lot more difficult to remove myself from the situation, but it can negatively affect our sales. My boss, who is also the owner of this high-end dress boutique, has the mouth of a sailor, but I didn’t hear him talk like this when I first started working for him. On more than one occasion, he will start cussing up a storm while I’m on the phone with a client. Our building is small and very open; it’s an old loft apartment renovated for commercial use. So, taking calls somewhere else in the building where it’s more quiet or private is not an option. I apologized to the clients profusely, but I could tell they were very offended. I’m in my early 30s and I’d say my boss is at least 20 years older than me, so talking to him about this would be very hard for me even though I have a real good relationship with him. What do you think I should do?
Fed up with boss’s foul mouth
Dear Fed up with boss’s foul mouth:
Obviously, you have two options. You can either continue to ignore your boss’s unprofessional conduct or bite the bullet and say something to him. Although I completely understand why you feel uncomfortable having this discussion, I have to suggest you consider doing it. The fact that his foul language has been heard by clients more than once and the understandable possibility for it to hurt sales both serve as the basis (your strong ammunition) for having this talk with him. Although your email did not indicate this, if your boss is moody or has a quick temper, be sure to approach him when you know he is having a good day. You can respectfully discuss your concern for the business based on your uncomfortable phone calls; explaining your desire for the boutique not to lose any clients. Hopefully, he will take the constructive information to heart and work on his word choice, but if he chooses to behave in the same manner and you see business slipping, I would start looking at other nice clothes shops for your future employment. Best of luck!
I don’t need a lot of handholding at work but I can’t deny it would be nice to at least see my boss from time to time. It’s been at least three months since I’ve laid eyes on him. He mostly sends me emails, but he also calls from time to time. Either way, he’s just giving out assignments and directives. He never asks for input. I don’t work on the same floor as he does, and I flex (6 AM to 2 PM), but it bugs me to no end that he won’t make an effort to come down one flight of stairs to check on the two of us from his department who aren’t on his floor. His other two employees work down the hall from him. You might be wondering if I see him when we have department/staff meetings, but he never has them! It’s so obvious he doesn’t care about any of us. It’s like we’re just robots to him, not people who have feelings. He just wants us to do our jobs.
I’m a person, not a robot
Dear I’m a person, not a robot:
I sympathize with you and understand your desire for a more empathetic and engaged boss, but I have to tell you that quite a few of my clients would love to have a boss like yours. They prefer to be left alone and the fewer meetings they have to attend, the better. That being said, I suggest you take the initiative and start making some trips up that one flight of stairs. In addition to small talk, share substantive information and ideas related to your particular job and ask questions to show your interest and respect for his knowledge and experience. After a couple of months, let me know if you see a change in his attitude and behavior towards you.
© 2012 Rozanne R. Worrell