Professional Demeanor: A Cautionary Tale

Thursday, February 11, 2021

At Ask a Manager, Alison Green answers a letter (Item 1) from a reader concerned that her supervisor is about to be scammed by someone she met through a dating site.

As you might imagine, bringing up such a problem would be difficult enough to do politely to begin with, but there's a twist in this situation: The boss has a very defensive and adversarial communications style.

Green's regular readers will already know that such a problem can make life difficult at work. And the following will hammer this home, while also indicating that such harm does not always remain confined to just a single area of one's life:

Image by Keren Levand, via Unsplash, license.
I'd love to tell you to tip her off, and if you'd described her any differently I would. But "she often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority" indicates it could go quite badly, and there's professional risk to you in telling her something she's highly likely to find embarrassing even though you'd be acting in her interests.
Green goes on to suggest possibly having a coworker relay the potentially bad news, but she is absolutely correct to advise her reader to err on the side of self-preservation in this situation.

Green concludes in part that, "[P]eople in positions of authority who make it hard for people to bring them bad news tend not to get bad news."

As I have said here many times, Ask a Manager is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in learning how better to navigate the work place, including through the mistakes of others, as here -- or their triumphs, as often happens when grateful readers provide updates.

Many readers, myself included, have found familiar problems and great advice simply by checking in on this blog regularly.

-- CAV


: Corrected spelling of Alison Green.

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