Office Politics 101: Let’s talk about me — again

There’s a woman in our office who is totally self-absorbed. She’s quite a good worker but is only interested in talking about herself.

Q: Tere’s a woman in our office who is totally self-absorbed. She’s quite a good worker, but only interested in talking about herself. People are beginning to distance themselves from her and I think she’ll soon become isolated. Any ideas for me?

A: If we are candid, most of us enjoy telling others of our experiences and accomplishment: in fact, dominating a conversation can be quite attractive! We realize, of course, that such an approach will reveal our narcissism and will ultimately turn off our listeners.

Social sensitivity is a sign of maturity and will often reveal how we are able to communicate effectively in a group setting. Children, in general, lack social sensitivity and can be expected to use every opportunity to garner maximum attention.

Adults who exhibit self-importance to the extent that virtually every conversation is about them may be revealing some deeper issues that are not readily apparent but nonetheless significant.

She could be lonely with a limited circle of friends outside of work. Her evening hours may be spent alone, perhaps in front of the TV or computer, and so she looks forward to chatting with co-workers at the office.

She may have low esteem and has received little or no nurturing from family members. Her desire to receive notice, therefore, is her attempt — though unsuccessful — to promote her value as a person to others.

If she is married, it is possible that her husband is absent for much of the time, so she literally has no one talk to except at the workplace. She is “making up for lost time,” by directing virtually all of the attention to herself.

Is she aware that she is “totally self-absorbed,” as you put it?  My guess is she is under the illusion that her conversational style is quite engaging and that her stories are fascinating to co-workers.

Colleagues, no doubt, appear courteous and she has probably received the message that her domineering style of dialogue is acceptable.  Unless she is alerted to their aversion, she will continue on the same course.

While it will almost certainly be painful for her, someone needs to speak with her informally – and sensitively – as soon as possible.  If you are up for the challenge, pick a time when just the two of you can speak confidentially.

Identify your concern and don’t add to the pain by stating you are speaking for others.  Recommend she become more aware of her conversational style and encourage her to listen more.  A recent personal example may be helpful.

This employee needs to be treated with compassion – as she is probably hurting to some extent – but she also needs to correct her conduct for the good of the office. Your intervention will be appreciated by everyone but be careful not to undermine what little confidence she has.

Submit your confidential questions relating to work and office life to simon@officepolitics101.com

 

Just Posted

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Birtch Parlee is one of approximately 132,000 transgender people living across the nation, according to Statistics Canada. Photo submitted
Transgender in a small town – Princeton B.C.

“I buried it. I pushed it down. I lived a lie.”

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Dan Albas
COLUMN: Reopening the international border

Governments in Canada and the United States are working towards reopening plans for the border

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
UPDATE: Lake Country home destroyed in massive blaze

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Most Read