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Career Q&A: Don't tolerate co-workers who text while driving

Q: I'm afraid that I could be hurt or killed by colleagues who insist on texting while driving. Recently, one of my co-workers offered to drive us to a meeting with a new client. On the way back to the office, "Brad" received a text from his daughter and began reading it while we were in heavy traffic.

When Brad started typing a reply, I told him it made me uncomfortable. He indignantly replied that he is a good driver who has never been in an accident. Since that incident, Brad has made mocking comments to others about my "texting paranoia." How should I handle this?

A: Your reckless colleague is acting like an idiot. If Brad is too stupid to comprehend that it's not possible to simultaneously type, steer and watch the road, then someone should show him the statistics on people who have been killed or injured because of texting behind the wheel. As long as he continues this practice, you should avoid riding with him.

However, you might find that Brad's contemptuous account of your "texting paranoia" actually turns out to be helpful. A reputation for being concerned about distracted driving might cause others to curb their bad habits whenever you're a passenger. But if they don't, you should continue to speak up, for their sake as well as your own.

Because distracted driving is a serious and widespread problem, every organization should have a widely publicized prohibition against it. Anyone wishing to promote this idea with their employer can find a sample policy on the U.S. Department of Labor website at osha.gov/distracted-driving/ modelpolicies.html.

Try to make nice with rude secretary

Q: My boss' secretary is domineering and rude. "Karen" acts sweet as pie when our manager is around but becomes very unpleasant when he's gone. Despite the fact that I'm a department head, Karen shows absolutely no respect for my position. She will actually scold me if I do something she doesn't like.

Because my boss never sees Karen's true personality, I have considered sending him an email describing her behavior. However, I'm concerned he might refuse to believe me and take her side. What do you think I should do?

A: If you want to avoid making a huge political mistake, you need to get a grip on your ego. Even if Karen has the personality of a pit viper, she works closely with your manager and probably makes his job a lot easier. Should you appear to have difficulty working with her, he could easily conclude that you are the problem.

Although they seldom have formal power, secretaries frequently have a great deal of influence. Constant proximity not only provides a wealth of information about their manager's preferences but also gives them many opportunities to share their views. They can be helpful allies or dangerous enemies. So if you care about your career, stop fretting about whether Karen shows you sufficient respect and start trying to get along with her.

Stop stressing over annoying co-worker

Q: One of my third-shift co-workers got upset when I was temporarily moved to first shift. "Brittany" felt this assignment should have been hers, so she began complaining to our manager. She constantly sends him negative text messages about me. When I confronted her, Brittany got defensive and said she was just keeping him informed. How can I stop this?

A: Most managers hate being nagged, so Brittany's incessant texting might actually be a self-destructive move. To ensure that her attempted sabotage has not had the intended effect, however, you should have a talk with your boss.

For example: "I know Brittany has been sending you a lot of complaints about my work. I'm not worried about her opinion, but I do care about yours. Do you have any concerns about the way I'm handling my new assignment?"

If your manager suggests some changes, that's good information to have. But if all seems well, you can stop fretting about your malicious co-worker. Your boss will eventually tire of her annoying messages and put an end to them.

Career Q&A: Don't tolerate co-workers who text while driving 07/18/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 4:28pm]

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