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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Saying No to a Shirking Colleague

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work with someone who goes to any length to never learn new skills or handle any additional responsibilities for the company we work for. We are both managers at the same level.

On a daily basis, I usually work two to three hours of overtime just to complete my own job. But this co-worker never stays late for any reason whatsoever, and never attends any work event that occurs after her shift. I always do.

Just the other day, while our boss was out of the office, my co-worker was shunting so many of her work responsibilities on to me that I was three hours late leaving work. But most importantly (I guess), my co-worker got to leave work on time.

For another example, she recently asked me three times to do a task that had been given to her. When I finally refused, she got very mad and left my office, slamming the door on the way out. Needless to say, she has put me in a very uncomfortable situation.

Our supervisor is a person who does not want to hear about any problems whatsoever; he just wants the job to get done. So, what I am to do, Miss Manners? What am I missing here, by finally telling the co-worker “no,” as nicely as I knew how?

GENTLE READER: Your co-worker is misbehaving, Miss Manners agrees. But she is less confident with the implication that your supervisor is also derelict, as you have been solving the workload problem for him.

Surely your duties as a manager already include saying “no” under even more challenging conditions. “I’m so sorry, but I just don’t have the time” is a businesslike and proper answer to your colleague, however badly she takes it. An unprofessional reaction is unfortunate, but surely not worth succumbing to emotional blackmail to prevent.

Your supervisor will then have to do his job, which is to deal with employees who do not do their own.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have been invited to a number of weddings that were supposed to occur over the past few months. Because of the pandemic, the brides and grooms are still getting married, but not having large gatherings or receptions.

We want your advice on what to do in these situations. Should we send a gift to arrive around the time the wedding would have been, or should we wait to see if they have a future reception? Or are we not obligated to send a gift at all?

GENTLE READER: Nobody is actually obligated to send a present, rendering moot any further disclaimer about the timing of the delivery of said present. Gracious people send wedding presents because they want a symbolic way of showing that they care about the people involved.

Never mind. Miss Manners does not mean to get caught up in technicalities. If you wish to send a present, now would be a good time. The residual shipping delays caused by the recent pandemic will, in any case, ensure that it does not arrive immediately.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)