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Co-worker doesn't want to play matchmaker

Lynne Curry

Q. One of my co-workers just went through a nasty divorce -- and dragged me through it as well by giving me blow-by-blow accounts of her custody battle and how she planned to take her ex-husband for every dime. At first I felt sympathy for her but I soon dreaded the daily diatribe.

Since she knows I have a lot of guy friends, she now expects me to set her up with dates. Even though I wouldn't wish her on any guy I know, I'm afraid if I turn her down it will get ugly between the two of us. I've put her off for a week now, and she's starting to get irritated. Help!

A. When she asks you to set her up, let her know you don't know the right person for her. If she says, "Come on, you know lots of guys," explain that you only feel comfortable matchmaking when you feel it will be right.

If things get ugly, realize you have a choice. You can let her run you or you can stand up for yourself. Three months from now, which will feel better?

Q. I work for a local government agency. When disgruntled citizens get furious with us, they often ask us for our names. Do we have to give our first or last names to members of the public?

A. When you give your name, it can help defuse a situation; however, it can also place you at risk. Governmental agencies vary in their stance on giving out names. As a rule, if you've tried your best to defuse the situation and feel uneasy giving your name, ask your manager for assistance and potentially transfer the call to her.

Q. After one of our often abrasive employees gave notice, we hoped we could preserve a civil work relationship. We of course chose to allow him to work out his final two weeks. Instead of leaving on a high note, he seems intent on creating uproar with both co-workers and customers. How do we get this employee to realize it's in his best interest to leave on a positive note?

A. You may not be able to. For this reason, many organizations pay employees for any stated notice period. If you want to give it one last try, let your employee know you'd rather he handle the situation with dignity so you can give him a future positive reference based on his talents. If he refuses, cut your losses.

Q. We have kitchen wars in our company. Several employees apparently "forget" to clean up after themselves; the neatnik employees feel taken advantage of because they're always cleaning leftover cups. I'd seen the "clean up after yourself!" signs but hadn't realized the extent of the problem until I got copied yesterday on three increasingly nasty emails.

This morning I met with several employees who said they'd been losing food and sodas from the refrigerator for months. One of them stayed after work and found her emptied yogurt container in another employee's trash can.

A. If you want to fix this situation, take prompt action. Establish ground rules. Everyone needs to take care of his own mess. No one has the right to pilfer food.

Let your staff know you consider food theft a disciplinary issue. Investigate the one report you've received and if you find one employee stole from another, secure an apology and repayment. Follow this up with a stern written reprimand and your own recompense to everyone injured. It happened on your watch.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Co. Inc. For questions, Curry can be reached at

Lynne Curry
ManagementBy LYNNE CURRY