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Boring Boss Blathers

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Dear Annie: I work in an office with nine other people. For some reason, my boss likes to share every boring detail of her personal life with us. We smile, listen politely and laugh at her "hilarious" anecdotes. This might be bearable if she showed any interest in our lives, but she doesn't. Occasionally, with one foot out the door, she will ask, "How are you doing?" but it's obvious she wants a quick answer at most. If she joins a conversation already in progress, she takes over and seems compelled to top whoever is speaking. She always has a bigger, better, funnier or more dramatic story, at least in her mind.

Why does she do this? She is bright, talented and accomplished in many aspects of life. Why the need to be the star? She constantly has to send the message: "My life is exciting, your life is nothing."

I hope people will read this and ask themselves how much time they spend talking about themselves compared to how much time they spend listening to others. Is there anything we can do to change this? — Arizona

Dear Arizona: Your boss, like many outwardly successful people, still harbors deep insecurities. This is why she feels the need to prove that she is the most important and interesting person in the room. And because she is so focused on her own behavior, she has few brain cells left to devote to her staff's personal lives, nor, frankly, does she need to. Your personal lives are not her business. But she is still your employer and if this is the worst thing she does, we'd put up with it. You are handling it perfectly - you smile, listen politely and laugh when called for.

It's annoying, but harmless. Just try not to roll your eyes.

Dear Annie: In general, I agree that a guest should not put a bride or groom "on the spot" by asking to bring a date. But I'd like to mention a time when it worked.

My partner and his daughter had been estranged for many years. One of the best things to happen was when his daughter's fiance, a wonderful man, facilitated a reconciliation. Part of the reconciliation was an invitation to their wedding.

After receiving the invitation, we had dinner with the fiance. We felt we had

little choice but to confirm that, as the father's partner, I was included in the invitation because my name was not on it. The fiance said yes. We'll never know if that was simply his decision at the time, but had I not also been welcome, it would have undone all the work of reconciliation.

I attended with my partner, everyone was delightful, and a great, celebratory time was had by all. — A North Carolina Gay Partner

Dear N.C.: Your situation is not the same as someone asking to bring a "plus one." Established partners should always be included in such invitations. Nor was your partner asking to bring you. He was only clarifying the situation, which is perfectly fine. That fiance sounds like a gem. We are so glad he helped reconcile father and daughter, and that you are both welcome members of the family.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@creators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

7 Comments | Post Comment
LW 1 - I hope that when people read your letter, they will reflect on how much of their work time they spend on non-work conversations, instead of doing their job.
Comment: #1
Posted by: kai archie
Wed Sep 2, 2015 9:19 PM
LW1 -
"This might be bearable if she showed any interest in your lives"? A place of work is not a social club, and you are not there to be best buddy with the boss. As boring as a daily, minute account of her everyday life might be, I'll take a boring boss over a bully any day. And try to remember the countless people who don't have a job to complain about. I can think of a few people (me included) who would snatch your job in a New York minute if they could, so kindly kwityerbellyachin'.



Comment: #2
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Sep 2, 2015 9:22 PM
LW #1: As a former employer myself, I see your boss as attempting to be personable. I don't see it as insecurity. A boss-employee relationship is totally different from a friend-friend one. There are actually laws governing your boss' relationship with you. Virtually any question she asks you about YOUR PERSONAL LIFE could be illegal and lead to discrimination lawsuits.

In my experience, the only time my employees poured their hearts out to me about their personal life, it was always a prelude for their asking for some kind of special consideration--such as unmerited time off or an unearned raise. Therefore, be professional and keep your personal life out of the workplace.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Madelyn
Wed Sep 2, 2015 9:56 PM
Madelyn, good answer to LW1, much better than the Annies' psychobabble.

LW2 - Once again, the Annies have totally missed the point, which is that calling to clarify whether an invitation is only for one person (which is totally necessary sometimes), is NOT the same as calling to request that a second name be added to it (which is rude and inappropriate).

Some invitations are so poorly written as to be totally unclear, or are just weird (as when I'm invited to a neighborhood event without my husband's name on the invitation, or vise versa). Every single time I've called to ask in a good-humored way if we are both invited, the response has been an apologetic, "Oh, sorry, yes, of course I meant you're both invited! Sorry for the confusion." According to the Annies, I should not have asked in the first place, but assumed it was only for the person it was addressed to, even if it made no sense at all.
Comment: #4
Posted by: sarah morrow
Wed Sep 2, 2015 11:00 PM
LW1, why are you so enmeshed in this? For heaven's sake, worry about something that actually matters in the grand scheme of things. Sure your boss is self-absorbed, but you need to figure out why you're taking this so personally. Hint: she is not your mom. Get counseling.
.
LW2, re: "...had I not also been welcome, it would have undone all the work of reconciliation." Really? So after a long estrangement has ended and their relationship is still on fragile ground, both you and your partner would have been okay with going back to a state of estrangement with his daughter over a wedding invitation? I'm not saying it's right had you not been invited, but if you and your partner are in the habit of cutting people out of your life every time you feel offended instead of trying to talk it out with them, I imagine you'll be estranged again very shortly. I will bet his daughter is not the only one you two are estranged from. Grudges never make good life mates.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jane
Thu Sep 3, 2015 1:11 AM
LW 2 - There is a difference between a single person receiving an invitation without the "and guest' written on it and one name of an established couple not being included on the invitation. The single person does not call and ask to bring a date or a casual boyfriend. Established couples are a social unit and should be invited to events together. This includes long term couples, couples who live together, engaged couples and of course married couples.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Lori C
Thu Sep 3, 2015 1:16 AM
LW 1 - The last thing you want is for your boss to become interested in the details of your life outside the office. You do not want your boss all up in your business and asking personal questions. I would be more annoyed at the boss eating up my time needed to complete my work. But if she is not reprimanding you for not getting your work done timely, you are golden. I don't see why you cannot try to steer the chit chat back to business at hand. Well Janet, your trip to Mt. Denali sounds wonderful. Can I ask you a question about the new cover sheet for the TPS report? Or excuse yourself to use the restroom.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Lori C
Thu Sep 3, 2015 1:28 AM
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