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Style & Substance: on annoying neighbors, work habits

Dear style & substance:

I have had the strangest related incidents happen recently and am at a loss as to how to politely deal with them. My neighbor’s dog comes into my yard regularly and relieves himself, which I obviously don’t like and another ‘neighbor’ at work eats hot, aromatic lunches at her desk, right next to mine, when I am trying to meet with clients. These may seem different to you, but I cannot bring myself to speak up. Any suggestions?

You are very tolerant and in tune with your weakness! Some people take advantage of that and others simply don’t understand basic rules of etiquette. Working on your frustration without tactfully addressing the situations could be quite futile, as you have already reached your tipping point. Any reader can sympathize with this, as we all have life situations and people that we have put up with rather than attempt to communicate our dissatisfaction. Coming up with the right words and then being prepared to deliver them when the right time presents itself is what will ultimately work best.

Some things to remember in your delivery:

• Don’t show emotion; be calm, direct and matter-of-fact.

• ‘Know’ the people you are trying to communicate with as personality types and realize that they will receive words and respond differently than you might in a situation.

• If there are rules at your office; use them to kindly remind your desk mate that there is a lunchroom etiquette to be followed; especially when clients are present - being seen eating is not professional.

• Tell them how it effects YOU over telling what THEY should do or what THEY should feel; “I want to be as professional as possible and I am very distracted by your lunch habits when I am trying to meet with clients.” or “I have stepped in Fido’s droppings so many times when I am mowing my lawn that I am frustrated and wondering if you might start picking them up?” When you own your own feelings and are not attacking or pinning them on the offender, they are more likely to heard and understood.

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