How to Deal with Political Talk at the Office

How to Deal with Politics at the Office | CorporetteHow do you handle a lot of religious and political talk at the office — particularly if you disagree with it?  Reader S wonders:

Could you do a post about politics at the office? I am a moderate liberal, and my approach has always been to avoid discussing politics at work at all, except when necessary to serve the needs of a client (i.e., analyzing a judge’s leanings or referring a client to a PR/lobbying specialist). I now find myself in a small-ish firm (about 35 attorneys) in a conservative, evangelical region, and political conversations are very common in my office. Some of the partners with offices near mine are constantly making derisive comments about president Obama and his policies, the liberal agenda, the liberal media, etc. Sometimes the critiques venture into gender issues. I find many of the things they say to be pretty offensive. I try to avoid participating in the conversations as much as possible so they don’t ask me what I think, but I can’t help overhearing them. Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation, short of (or until) leaving the firm?

Yeouch.  We’ve talked about election politics at the office many years ago, as well as pressure from coworkers to give to charities at the office (which sometimes veers into the political realm), but we haven’t talked about either in a really long time.  (We’ve also talked about how to handle it when your coworkers are sexist pigs.)

I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but in this particular situation, this sounds like a Fit Issue.  A big time, capital letters, serious fit issue.  It sounds like you don’t agree with or respect their opinions regarding politics or religion, and you feel like your opinions wouldn’t be respected either.  Not only is it unpleasant and awkward at work, but honestly I think your career prospects are also limited, because Fit is a major reason why people get promoted (or don’t).  So: for you, it’s time to move on. [Read more...]

How to Buy Jewelry For The Women In Your Life

How to Buy Jewelry for Your Secretary | CorporetteEver wonder what to get your mother, secretary, or sister in law for the holidays?  Jewelry always seems like a safe choice, but you have to do a bit of analysis — fortunately guest poster / Corporette commenter Kanye East is here to advise us on how to buy jewelry for the women in your life.  In real life,the author is an attorney at law, New York City ex-pat, sarcastic Corporette commenter, and amateur metalsmith. On the rare occasions she leaves the office, Ms. East slays dragons and makes jewelry with their treasures. She’s previously demystified pearls and types of metals for us.  Welcome back, Kanye East! – Kat

I don’t know whether “TIAKYOS” is a Corporette commenter acronym yet, but it could be. No, it’s not a new kind of Greek yogurt. “This is a know-your-office-situation.” We say it all the time when it comes to wardrobe, etiquette, socializing—next to JSFAMO (“Just say FOOEY! and move on), it might be the most popular advice among our commentariat. And it’s just as important for giving gifts: it’s a know-your-recipient situation. If you want to give gifts of jewelry that will be appreciated and worn, be observant. That’s my best advice, so if you want to go ahead and stop reading now, no hurt feelings.

Now I won’t pretend to be unbiased, but jewelry is always a go-to gift for the women in my life. (Know what my legal assistant gets on every holiday? I’ll give you one guess.) I love giving it, and I love getting it. But how do you pick the right piece for the right person? Allow me to make a few suggestions in the style of a bastardized Myers-Briggs Personality Test. We’ll be grading our recipient’s traits in four categories, and then assigning her a Giftee Profile (and giftee suggestions) based on those traits. Finally, I’ll leave you with suggestions from some of my favorite Etsy shops. [Read more...]

How to Hire an Assistant

how to hire helpWhat qualities should you look for when you hire someone?  Reader G wonders, particularly with regard to legal assistants:

Can you do a post about tips for interviewing and hiring a legal assistant? I’m a newer attorney and I share a legal assistant with two other attorneys. What should I look for in a new assistant? What questions should I ask during an interview?

Very interesting question, G, and I can’t wait to hear what the readers say — we’ve talked about delegating work, how to inspire a lazy secretary, and whether you should be friends with your staff, but never how to hire help. I’ve been reading a million articles on hiring people myself but aside from contract workers and virtual assistants I don’t have direct experience with this myself. A few links that may help: [Read more...]

Great Gifts for Business Associates

Gift Ideas for Business Associates | CorporetteWhat are the best gifts to give business associates and colleagues?  It still feels a bit early in the season, but I suppose that’s the best time to plan gift-giving… Here’s Reader R’s question:

Not sure if this topic has been covered, but any ideas for holiday gifts for fellow attorneys who refer you business.

Interesting!  We’ve talked about what to give your secretary for the holidays, and what hostess gifts are appropriate for work-related parties, but we haven’t talked about this.  For some reason I always think of alcohol (a nice bottle of a good liquor) or gift baskets as being work-appropriate business gifts.  For my $.02, I highly recommend avoiding soap (even artisanal soap) — I’m always mildly offended when I get that gift!

Readers, what do you give business colleagues?  What are some of the best gifts that you’ve gotten?

(Pictured: Rocky Mountain Goldmine, available from Hammond’s Candies for $49.50. Not included in the gift set, but amazing: their caramel-wrapped marshmallows.)

(L-0)

 

Cosmetic Surgery and the Office

breast reduction coworkers.indexedHow do you deal with cosmetic surgery (breast reduction, breast enlargement, nose jobs, etc) at the office?  What do you tell coworkers? Reader D wonders…

I have a question about dealing with a very sensitive issue at work. I will be having breast reduction surgery at the end of the summer and don’t know how to deal with questions from my coworkers. I will be out of the office for a week and will look noticeably different when I return. The surgery itself doesn’t concern me, I’m actually very excited about it, but the thought of answering all those prying questions, or just dealing with people’s observations, is making me very anxious. I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this one.

Congrats on your upcoming surgery, D — may it be everything you want it to be, both in terms of pain reduction, lifestyle, and appearance.  As a fellow, ahem, curvy girl myself, I feel your pain.  I’m curious to hear what readers say about this one, but a few thoughts:

  • Grow a thick skin regarding your coworkers.  (Put another way: F’em.)   [Read more...]

How Personal Can You Keep Your Personal Life?

Binocular Smile, originally uploaded to Flickr by cobalt123.How do you fend off questions from nosy coworkers — particularly when it’s a “plus one” business event and you’re by yourself? Reader R, moving to a new city, doesn’t want to feel like she’s under a microscope at an upcoming picnic:

I’m relocating & starting my first professorship at a university. The faculty are having a picnic in honor of the new members (myself and one other person) before the semester begins. This is also a “family & signifcant others” event and therein lies the problem: I’m single & moving out of state. Translation: I won’t know anyone or be able to invite anyone. Not to sound shallow, but I don’t want to field questions about my personal life (i.e dating, engaged, etc) because it is really no one’s business. But with children & spouses/so’s running around, I feel as though it is inevitable. Age, too, plays a factor. I am by far the youngest faculty member…

Congrats on your new professorship and the new city — it sounds like an adventure! I think you’re right to expect some curiosity about your personal life, but I think that’s par for the course for any smaller office. I think the bigger (and more impersonal) the office is, the more you can stay private — but even then, the more you become “known” (particularly when you start supervising people), the more people become curious about the basic facts of our personal life.  So while I can understand not wanting to get into the deeper details of your personal life, you may be heading into the office with the slightly wrong attitude. It isn’t an interrogation — people just want a simple answer, and I think will find it weirder if you decline to answer than if you answer briefly. Some sample scripts for you: [Read more...]