Life Advice



When The Annoying Co-Worker Is Also The Boss

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boss and I recently discovered that we have similar religious and political views. Normally this would not be a problem, but he has now taken to coming by my office several times a day to talk about religion and politics, and it's affecting my productivity.

And when I say talk about, what I really mean is that I listen for five minutes while he delivers a speech about what idiots the people on the other side are.

Today was the last straw; I came by my office on a Saturday to try to get some work done, only to find him there, wanting to talk politics.

If it were just another co-worker, I would have no problem telling them that I have work to do, but this is my boss. I don't want to poison my relationship with him, and he does sign my reviews.

Is there some polite way to convey to a superior that I have actual work that requires my attention, without creating hurt feelings? I'm quite certain H.R. would back me up if I went to them, but I would like to avoid that. Any advice?

GENTLE READER: Are you willing to see him outside of work?

This is not a practice Miss Manners generally condones, but the request itself might be enough to alert your boss that these conversations should not be had at the office.

I enjoy exchanging political views with you, you may say, but I am afraid that my pleasure in our conversations is getting in the way of my work. Would you want to discuss this over coffee? Or ... oh, no. Would that be an H.R. violation? I'd better check with them, just in case.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in an apartment building and whenever I see someone (especially when waiting for the elevator), I say hello, good morning, good evening, etc. My parents were adamant about manners, and I was raised to greet people and acknowledge them. I do this automatically, even when I'm not aware of it.


I recently had an episode where a neighbor, who has made it apparent that he and his girlfriend don't care for me, has asked me to stop greeting either of them whenever I see them. When I asked why, he said that I was pushing the boundaries of being a good neighbor. I'd never heard of this, and have no idea if I should respond as requested or just laugh it off (which I did when I thought of it).

As I run into them a few times a week, do you have any suggestions?

GENTLE READER: Swyize. This is Miss Manners' alternative to the ever-popular smize. While the latter means to smile with your eyes, Miss Manners' version means to smile without them.

You may greet your neighbors thus whenever you see them, signifying that you have heard their unneighborly request and will abide by it -- but not ungrudgingly so.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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