Q: I was out for drinks with a friend who works in the same industry as I do. I was telling her about my transition out of my last job and how difficult is was, because my boss didn’t want me to leave. I was sharing that my former boss made me an outrageous offer to stay and that I politely declined, saying that it was time for me to move on.
My friend looked puzzled and shocked. After a moment or two, she leaned in and said that she was told by my former boss that I had been let go for “strategic reasons.”
I have a wonderful new job that I love, and I’m generally liked and respected by my colleagues and peers, so I’m not terribly worried that this rumor will be believed. But I am pretty angry that she would go around spreading it. My husband thinks I should say something to her, because she is trying to ruin my reputation. What should I do?
A: Are you quite sure this remark wasn’t made out of exasperation at your saying how valued you are?
In any case, that is the way Miss Manners recommends your telling the story to your former co-workers, with whom you seem to keep in touch. A story ridiculing oneself gets around more than a complaint.
Q: A co-worker who is also a close friend is a wonderful employee and an amazing mother, but she quite often — with no warning — shows up to work with one or more of her kids. This is usually because they are out of school with colds or fevers, or sometimes just because.
We work with a lot of valuable electrical equipment and have a consistent flow of clients and “fans” who come in. She keeps her kids at our workplace in a room with her that is communal to the other employees, who have their own families who they don’t want to see get sick. Her kids also show up in pictures later wearing/using very expensive pieces of equipment from their time here.
They are very well-behaved children and have never caused a problem, although they do sidetrack her from other tasks and chat a lot with other workers while they’re at the office. I respect my co-worker so much and don’t want to come across like I’m judging or instructing her as a parent, but some things are just unnecessary, inconvenient and inappropriate for a professional setting.
A: You are understandably confused. Your co-worker is your friend. Your potential clients are fans. And you are unsure whether you are giving parental or professional advice.
But your co-worker/friend is equally confused. She does not know whether she is at work or at home. Sick people do not belong in an office, nor should professional equipment be used as toys.
Miss Manners advises you to refer the matter to the person you have forgotten to mention but who has the most interest in a resolution: the boss. The idea is not to tattle or complain, but to express sympathy and suggest leniency in allowing parents to meet emergencies.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.