So I was being polite as I approached a coworker this morning. I figured 15 seconds to say ‘hows it going’ ‘fine, you?” “fine.” was worth some coworker good will. 5 minutes later and a really uncomfortable discussion about his spousal challenges and I can’t escape. I need some help on how to get out of these situations.
First off, thanks for sending this in. It’s been so long, that I was beginning to think all my thousands of readers had no burning questions. On to the task at hand.
As I say no good deed, or politeness, goes unpunished. But, honestly this is an easy one to solve.
Don’t ever ask someone, “How are you?”
Done. Case closed. Who else needs advice? Anyone? Hello?
Crap looks like there are no other questions. Ugh, OK back to this joker uh, Trapped.
Alright I know, because I am the same way, that you are a “good guy” (figure of speech all, no need for the crazy feminists to go batty now) and that as such you feel it’s the right, or as you said polite, thing to do when you see a coworker to say “Hi, how are you?” So let’s focus on how to get you out of that situation where you coworker is blabbing on about how their spouse is an a-hole, their kid poured paint all over the neighbor’s cat and how their Mr Miyagi trained 7 year old just got a 16th degree black belt.
See I can tell by your question that you are someone who, very much like the characters on Portlandia, just doesn’t want to hurt your coworkers feelings.
So you’ll need to be strategic. Plan for these scenarios, because they will occur. One thing that’s always worked for me – keep your cell phone on you at all times. Then, when that awkward moment comes and you need to pull the virtual eject handle take out your phone and say, “oh geez, forgot I’ve got to get to a meeting.” Then be on your way.
Just remember to keep your cell on vibrate, because 1) phones in cubeville should ALWAYS be on vibrate and B) there’s nothing worse than pulling out the old fake-vibrate-meeting-reminder trick just to have your phone actually ring at that time. Awkward!
So there you have it Trapped. Good luck and remember, the only time you should ask, “Hey how you doin?” it should be in that Joey from Friends voice to that hot chick in Purchasing.
Anyone else have a burning question? Fire it over to firstname.lastname@example.org or just drop it in the comments section.