Ask Denise: Messy Office Mate | The Zebra Blog

Ask Denise: Messy Office Mate

Q: “Denise, my office mate is driving me crazy. We are like the Odd Couple. Every night I spend a few minutes putting everything away, filing and wiping down my desk for a clean start in the morning. However, her side of the office looks like a tornado hit it. There are files and papers everywhere, the plant is dead, and there is a coffee cup that is beginning to culture something very disgusting. She and I have a good relationship and I have joked with her about it a few times hoping she would get the hint, but she either didn’t or just doesn’t care. I am so embarrassed that I am meeting with clients in the conference room instead of in here. I don’t want to cause tension but this isn’t working. What should I do?”

A: You have two options. You can talk with her about it yourself or you can involve your broker. If it were me, I would probably try to talk with her myself first. It doesn’t have to be a conversation that is filled with tension. Simply say, “Cindy, do you have five minutes to chat with me about our office situation?” That way she knows it is just going to be a quick chat and you are asking permission to continue. If she tells you that she doesn’t have five minutes, that is the time to involve the broker.

Then just simply state the facts (kindly) and follow up with your truth:

  • I have some concerns about the state of the office.
  • There are papers spread out and on the floor.
  • The plants are dead.
  • There is mold growing in the discarded coffee cups and food packaging.
  • It is so bad I have been avoiding bringing my clients in here and we have to meet in the conference room.
  • This isn’t working for me.

Then let her talk. She may say she knows, she has been really busy, etc. Then work on a solution that will work for you both. Start with collaboration and see how that goes.

She probably knows how bad it is, but if you don’t speak up and state your truth, she will continue to try to get away with it because not saying anything is a sign of acceptance.

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2 Responses to “Ask Denise: Messy Office Mate”

  1. Laurie Way says:

    It’s the formula that works in almost every situation. Just like you taught us! Just state the facts!

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