Q. Dear Mr Know It All
I have a colleague at work who isn’t exactly a sleazy-stalker, but he comes very close to being one. He sometimes leans uncomfortably close over my shoulder to read what’s on my computer screen, and I’ve noticed that he tries to jump into any conversation I’m a part of. Thing is, I can’t accuse him of harassment or anything because he never really crosses that line — but it freaks me out all the same. How do I get him to stay away?
A. One of the biggest tragedies of the modern education system is that they don’t teach you how to deal with different types of people. I find it very amusing how oh-so-erudite educationists think it’s important for kids to know how to multiply matrices with uneven rows and columns, for instance, and not how to deal with creepy stalkers and sleazy talkers when everybody knows real life is much more likely to throw those our way than a bunch of numbers enclosed in a giant bracket!
Luckily for you though, I’ve suffered enough sleaze-balls in my day to know for a fact that giving such morons a cold shoulder is maybe the worst way of dealing with them. The more you find yourself peeved by their ungentlemanly ways and the more you try to snub them, the more they’ll do to make life a living hell.
Even though your guy hasn’t displayed any signs of full-blown schmuckery yet, he’s been bothering you constantly with his malarkey and that’s reason enough for you to pull out the oldest and sharpest sword in your scabbard and shred the man to pieces at his own game: become a sleazier-talker! Lean uncomfortably close to him when he’s checking his email and read out bits that you can make out for the whole office to enjoy. Ask him embarrassing questions in front of the others. Hijack his conversations and bother him with petty office issues when he’s busy working. In short, stop caring what he and the others might think and go all out! Stop letting his slithery antics get to you… pray for the time when he’ll cross that line so you can report him to HR and see him taken care of by the bullies in ties!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I just joined a new workplace a week ago and I seem to be the victim of an inferiority complex. I have started to think less of myself in every way, whether it is the way I dress, the way I look or my creative ideas. I have started to feel like a misfit! It is hard for me to assert myself as I am constantly striving for approval from others for everything I do. How do I regain my lost confidence?
A. Woah, slow down there, cowboy! Now take a deep breath and do us both a favour and stop sounding like such a goner — I’m getting all depressed by just reading your email.
Look, we’ve all grown up listening to motivational mumbo jumbo like “you have to believe in yourself for them to believe in you” and “the only person who can stop you from getting ahead of yourself is you”… well guess what, this is all true! The only person doubting your confidence and skill here is you, and that can hardly be a good thing now, can it?
Sure, it’s normal to feel a little out of place at times, especially if you’ve just joined a hipper, cooler workplace where everybody else seems to know the whole kit and caboodle right from what impresses the boss and their “effortlessly cool” wardrobes to the jokes that make all the cute co-workers laugh, but dude, you’ve only been here a week! You’ll get there too… if you don’t smother yourself with self-doubt first, that is!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I have a younger sister who seems to be going through a difficult phase. Previously she would confide in me but now she leads the life of a hermit. She shuns society and refuses to hang out with her friends, attend family get-togethers or use socialising tools such as Facebook or Twitter. She has also cut her beautiful, long locks to a short bob. How do I end this self-destructive mode of hers?
A. I wish I could say I remember the time when I was a broody little teenager who hated the world and society for all its duplicitous ways but I can’t. Cool as it would’ve been, I never spent my days in my room listening to the dark and depressing music of Metallica and Marilyn Manson and I never really got down to shunning my friends and cutting my hair short to prove a point… I was always a boring little shiny happy kid! Of course, a lot has changed since then. I mean I don’t think I qualify as a hermit and I certainly still don’t get the message Mr Manson’s been trying to get across for years, but I can well relate to the mounting aversion to social networking sites and holding society in contempt for all the hypocrisy.
What I’m trying to say is, things and people change… and so will your sister. The girl is clearly going through a difficult self-awakening period and the last thing she needs right now is an I-know-what’s-best-for-you attitude from her elder sister, which will only serve to make things fester. Sure I understand where you’re coming from, but sometimes you just have to let them learn on their own. Besides, I think you’ve answered your own question when you call what your sister is going through a “phase”. The Oxford English Dictionary calls it a stage in a person’s psychological development, especially a period of temporary difficulty during adolescence or a particular stage during childhood. The key word here being temporary! The best you can do here is cut her some slack and be there for her when it finally comes to an end!
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 7th, 2011.
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