The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 13, 2013

Your Office Coach: Office etiquette is evolving


Q: After a bout with bronchitis, one of our co-workers developed a chronic cough. “Monica“ has lengthy coughing fits two or three times a day and sometimes sounds like she is choking. We tried giving her cough drops, but that didn’t help. Her doctor says this problem is normal and temporary.

Several customers have asked whether Monica is contagious, which apparently she is not. However, since we are concerned about customer perceptions, we would like Monica to go into the restroom whenever she has an attack. How can we suggest this without hurting her feelings?

A: Even though your request is not unreasonable, being banished to the bathroom by co-workers might cause Monica to react defensively. So to avoid unnecessary conflict, try asking management to deliver this message. If Monica’s boss will agree to talk with her, that should take care of the problem. But if not, at least this is one issue that should eventually be resolved by the passage of time.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.“ Send in questions and get free coaching tips at, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.

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