Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inappropriate Work Questions?

Here are just a few inappropriate questions I have been asked in work environments. These come from clients, colleagues and general acquaintances in my work circles.

Awesome Question Mark print from PureType on Esty. 

"You're not coming back to work again are you?" 

"This is the last kid, right?" 

"Are you planning to have a family?" 

"Haven't you and your husband saved enough money so you can stay at home?" 

"How does your husband feel about that (me not staying at home)?" 

"Don't you miss your kids?" 

"Are you nursing?" 

"My wife would have never trusted anyone else with our kids. Who do you trust with your kids?" 

Granted, many of these questions are harmless. It just depends on context. When, where and who is asking these questions. Generally, I am very open, honest and straightforward. I love having real conversations with people instead of fake or surface level chats. But some of these questions just knocked me on my feet when they were said out loud. 

For example, the question "Are you nursing?" came up when I was on a conference call with a male client. We have known each other almost 10 years and I consider us friends. At the same time, he is my client. He is a family man and I believe his intention was to show interest. None the less, it was very uncomfortable for me. I just sort of shrugged to myself and replied "Nope. Just not my thing." For me, this is an intensely personal topic that I have struggled with. I tried with all three babies to nurse and was never completely successful. It is a sore spot. Plus, I am guessing his wife nursed all four of their kids. So maybe he believes that is the right choice. I don't know for sure. I certainly wasn't going to ask him about his family choices around nursing! 

I wish there was a clear way to know what level of personal questioning is appropriate. No clear cut answer. Everyone is left guessing what is appropriate for other people. As someone who asks a lot of direct personal questions, I am hesitating a bit. I never want to be someone who makes someone else uncomfortable. I also don't want to avoid building personal relationships in the office environment. We all spend a lot of time there, and it is so much more fulfilling when the relationships with colleagues, clients and associates are real. 

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