Note: Kayla Dugger has hosted business therapy sessions for Charlotte-based companies and cofounded Hygge Coworking. Want to participate? Send your career situation to firstname.lastname@example.org or just write a completely anonymous note in our feedback form. Either way, you’ll remain anonymous.
Dear Career Coach Kayla,
I am currently experiencing a sense of impending doom.
I have been at my company for a couple of years and like the location of my cubicle within our office. It’s peaceful and the people that surround me are all like-minded individuals. We all seem to jive very well.
We are in an unfortunate situation where all of this could change. Management wants to re-locate “Frank” to our, what I like to call, “fun bubble.” We all feel that if “Frank” does indeed move to the open cubicle nearby, that the entire atmosphere in our area will forever be changed. I am not alone in these feelings, everyone around me feels the same way. He’s a buzz kill.
There’s really not any other open cubicles for him to move to. It’s entirely possible for him to just stay where he’s at. But we don’t get to make the call.
Would it be inappropriate to bring up the possibility of him staying put to management?
Short of setting fire to the available cubicle, how do we go about blocking this from happening?
And if it does transpire, how to we go about dealing with him?
I had a classmate, Monica, that lived behind our elementary school.
When kids would walk by, they’d cross both index fingers to create an “x” and point them towards her house. It was supposed to keep us from getting cursed by her and her family.
I don’t know what started all of this. Honestly, the only weird thing I can remember about her is I think one time she ate glue —which had nothing to do with curses. Kids are dumb.
I remember one morning, walking into my geography classroom to see that our teacher had completely rearranged our desks. For a few precious moments there was a chance that I could be seated next to my crush, Andrew B.
To my dismay, I wasn’t seated next to the love of my life, but next to Monica.
I slowly sat down and angled my body so that I wouldn’t face her. I wanted everyone to know that I didn’t like sitting next to her, and I didn’t want Andrew to think our future kids would be cursed or eat glue.
Later, I found out our teacher sat her next to me because she thought I would be a kid who might be nice to Monica. Well… joke’s on her. I was clearly a monster and should pay for Monica’s therapy.
Your situation kind of reminds me of that.
I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m saying don’t handle this situation like a child? Or, perhaps it’s just the fact that we’re talking about seating arrangements and my mind wants to draw a parallel so badly.
I understand wanting to protect the fun bubble. There’s a part of me that wants to say, “Yes, protect your bubble.”
But, something feels wrong. Maybe that’s why I told you my Monica story. I think it’s the use of “like-minded” and “feel the same way” type of language.
You’re approaching this like it’s already happened and it’s already terrible because you have the proof in the numbers from people who think just like you. When in reality you have no idea what it’ll be like. And, going to leadership to say, “I don’t want him to sit by me,” will probably only make you look bad.
I think there’s room to say something to your supervisor like, “I’m a little worried about this move given Frank’s past behavior, but let’s see what happens.” Letting them know you’re concerned but you’re willing to try. Plus, you’ll have a record if stuff ever hits the fan.
Chances are, Frank will move and Frank will annoy you. But, there is a silver-lining (with two strands). The first is, honestly, people form stronger bonds when they have a common enemy—so the bubble might end up growing stronger. The second, is you’ll either come out of this being right or pleasantly surprised.
Give yourself the chance to be wrong. Work with people outside of your bubble. Otherwise, you’re just being a Frank (or a Kayla).
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