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by Abigail Van Buren

Secretary Flinches When Bosses Get Too Close for Comfort

DEAR ABBY: I've had three different secretarial jobs over the last 10 years. At two of them something has happened, and I'm hoping you can help me deal with the situation.

While at my desk, I've had bosses who enter my office, come around to my side of the desk and stand very close to me. Sometimes they'll even start keying things into my computer -- all without asking. It feels like an invasion of my personal space.

I wouldn't do that to them. Why do they feel they can do this to me? Or am I making too much of the whole thing? Please help. -- SILENT SECRETARY IN TEXAS

DEAR SILENT: Different people have different boundaries when it comes to personal space. Because having someone come around your desk and stand close to you without permission makes you nervous, speak to your boss about it.

That someone would reach over you to type something into a document you are working on seems to me to be rude, but your employer may have been trying to add something or correct errors, and thought it would be a faster way of getting the job done than trying to explain it to you.

It might reassure you to discuss this with some of the other secretaries, ask if this is common and whether it bothers them, and let them advise you.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics