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Thread: Advice Needed: The Crying Intern

  1. #1
    Shoe Diva
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    Question Advice Needed: The Crying Intern

    Ok. So I have this intern who I love very much (such a little worker bee and she has no problem running & fetching & filing... we work this girl like a dog and she's always happy to pitch in and do her share...so its not a laziness issue...)

    However, she has one little thing that my co-worker and I disagree about... she's a crier. A major crier. Generally over personal issues like her mom pissed her off or her boyfriend didn't call back. Work things slide right off her back. She learns and moves on.

    Now, I am of the school of "suck it up and don't be a baby." My co-worker is a lot more nurturing and encourages her to "get it out because you'll feel better." My position is that its dangerous for smart, intellegent, ambious young women to get in the habit of working their personal issues out on the job and a big part of the intern experience is to learn professional behavior and whatnot. (yes, the irony of asking that while posting on GS during company time is not lost on me....)

    My co-worker feels that my thinking is what is wrong with the women's movement.

    What do y'all think? Is there a right answer?

  2. #2
    I should be studying!
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    Having worked as an intern, if you and your intern are just sitting around stuffing envelopes and she wants to discuss (not boo-hoo, but maybe a little misting) her evening in a reasonable controlled voice and mindset, fine. You can learn a lot about dealing with personal problems from your more experienced co-workers. But stopping work is not good. You should always be enough in control to immediately focus on a business issue. Wiping your eyes and sniffing as you see the boss approaching is a no-no.

    Your co-worker thinks your view on this is what's wrong with the women's movement???

  3. #3
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Most places have a corporate policy of bringing in as little personal life as possible to work. Of course, if someone is upset/ crying over a real personal tragedy, that's a different story. Work is work. While I am not a "suck it up" person, I do believe that the time to "let it out" is on your own clock, not at work.

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    This Intern is being childish and inappropriate. Someone needs to clue her in fast. She is demonstrating very poor boundaries.

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    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Seperation helps.

    I always used the philosophy that work was my regular escape from my real life, and Had no problem letting all the issues that I had at home behinde me every day. That really made my EX mad, no calls at work about issues, only "honey do lists."

    There is also the philosophy that causing yourself an ulcer will never fix any problem, so if I am at work, there is nothing I can do that will help that other issue right now anyway (hence the vacation from reality theory). So it is best that I deal with it whole heartedly after the "bell" opposed to trying to juggle that issue and work possible causing more problems, and only addressing the issues "half a$$ed" is likely to make any issue worse.

    Lastly, letting my personal life get in the way of my work life, will cause me problems with work - hence, I would have another thing to "cry" about.

    I cried once on receiving a reward from a Executive Sales force I was coordinating training for. I got to know them fairly personally spending around 4-10 hours 6 days a week with all of them for 3 months. They were from all over the country and we did a lot of activities together - they even saved my butt from some "gorilla" at a bar on night because his date was hitting on me. Anyhoo, after receiving $250 gift card at Folly's (they knew I love Origins stuff) $100 for Old Navy, a gallon of Jack Daniel's and 2 8 packs of Guiness all in front of everyone at our final get together up came 2 of my favorite ladies I have ever had the pleasure of working with with a HUGE bouquet of flowers (they knew me well, I love getting flowers) I looked over at one of the girls / students and bam, tear boy! Even with the CEO looking at me - but he wiped his eye. Well the whole point was I lost some respect from some of those people, and the comment was coming around at some very crucial points in meetings. I feel like I missed out on some opportunities because of that.

    Now in hind sight, it turned out OK because I left the job / company, and they are no longer around either. But I feel like my work life would have been that much better or respected that last year had that one time been avoided.

  6. #6
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I agree that personal issues (of non tragic proportions) should not interfere with work priorities while at work. I try to avoid making personal calls during business hours, although it is necessary at times when it applies to personal business that can only be conducted during business hours.

    If someone is so upset that they cannot work, then they should take a personal day to avoid disrupting everyone else. They should also be wary of taking too many personal days, etc. I had one crying jag at work because I didn't realize how stressed out I was from work and it just boiled over. Another time, I could feel myself becoming unsettled and finished what I needed to do and left work early. Those are the only 2 times in almost 20 years that my emotions overwhelmed my ability to work. I think the 1st 'jag' delayed a promotion.

  7. #7
    In my heart, I'm actually Canadian....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwanford Wife

    My position is that its dangerous for smart, intellegent, ambious young women to get in the habit of working their personal issues out on the job and a big part of the intern experience is to learn professional behavior and whatnot. (yes, the irony of asking that while posting on GS during company time is not lost on me....)

    My co-worker feels that my thinking is what is wrong with the women's movement.
    I'm with you on this one. And the bottom line is, IT IS A PLACE OF BUSINESS AND IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR PEOPLE TO BE WALKING AROUND SOBBING. Does she do this often? It's rather hard to be taken seriously in the professional environment if one is crying all the time. At the very least, it makes everyone else uncomfortable -- especially the men in the office (I was reading an article about this sort of thing not too long ago and I wish I could remember where it was so I could perhaps find a link). And the fact of the matter is, if she wants to get anywhere, odds are she's going to have be dealing with male higher-ups at least half the time and let's face it, very few men are going to cut much slack in that department. They may not actually SAY anything about it to her face, but it would certainly be a case of them all getting together behind closed doors and saying "Sandy? Are you kidding me? The woman cries at the drop of a hat, we can't send her anywhere." Plus it does NOTHING to dispel the stereotype that many men have of women in the workplace. This stereotype is not as prevelant as it was, say, 20, 30, years ago, but it's definitely still around to enough of an extent where this type of thing is not going to win you points.

    As for your co-worker's comment, I'm a bit mystified by that one. ["Those damn feminists!! Now we can't cry at our desks anymore!!"]

  8. #8
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    Based upon what you have mentioned, she definitely isn't going anything out of the ordinary. She has to learn to distnguish between ordinary vs important. THis is true of everything. Does she know how to prioritize her own work? Not being able to weigh one's personal problems might indicate not being prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly, as well.

    As a manager/supervisor, it's important to balance the line between too empathetic and hard-nosed. At one point, one of co-workers miscarried and came back to work too soon. She was clearly not emotionally ready. I just stopped by to see how she was doing and she started bawling in my arms. I told her to go home and be with her other kids. She was worried about our boss (because he had made a statement when he 1st started that he considered 12+ sick/personal days as being unreliable) and I told her not to worry about it. I just went to him and told him I sent her home and he was fine with it. Boss & I had a conversation about it and I told him how literally people had taken his statement. Later on, he made it clear that he meant incidents - not # of days.

  9. #9
    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    I'm another that has the whole "Put on your big girl panties and get over it" mentality (why does that not shock anyone?) I mean if it's a general issue like a death, sickness... etc then yeah by all means

    but an everyday 'problem'? yeah, not so much

    I mean if you're in the break room or doing some small task and it doesn't get in the way, by all means chat, but don't make the world stop turning because of a hangnail.

  10. #10
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    I am very impressed that everyone is of the Suck-it-Up school. I am too and have always managed to conceal my personal crises at work....

    well... the tears part, anyway.

    But I always remember a co-worker, a middle manager like me, who was rather often reduced to tears by our meanie boss. There was some kind of terrible chemistry between them. I didn't blame her for crying - he really was insensitive (though well-intentioned).

    But this crying intern sounds like she has never been told what it is to be a professional. I guess that needs to be part of her internship.

  11. #11
    Shoe Diva
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    Thanks to you all... lots of good advice and support from you all... as for us all being from the suck it up school or as Toni states: put on your big girl panties ( ) I believe its because we're skating fans... a tough bunch if ever there was one!

    I have shared your views with my co-worker and she is seeing the error of her ways... (the error being not agreeing with moi )

    She also wanted to clarify her bad for women's movement statement: she feels that women should support each other in all things and provide a safe environment for the next generation to thrive and grow. I do agree with this to a certain extent, but not when it smudges a client presentation... or distracts from others' internet usage time. So there.

  12. #12
    Figure Skating Is A Dangerous Sport Dee4707's Avatar
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    KW, one of the things that might be happening is that the intern is confused. If you allow her to air her personal problems then that's what she'll do. I think the young lady needs a good professional talking to. I try to avoid personal things at work, like Sean said one can use work as an escape. A few years ago, a very, very good friend of mine died and I had a few teary moments during the day but would go to the restroom or take a little walk to compose myself. Sometimes it amazes me the stuff my coworkers air at work.

    Dee

  13. #13
    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dee4707
    Sometimes it amazes me the stuff my coworkers air at work.

    Dee
    one job I had I was the only one that wasn't/had never been in any sort of relationship and so I got to sit and listen to everyone's sex life... it's was *so* enlightening...

    and I couldn't complain to the manager because she normally started the discussions!

  14. #14
    Shoe Diva
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    Slightly off topic, but Toni are you going to Disney for the internship?

  15. #15
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    the other problem with allowing people to speak openly about personal issues is related to EEOC issues. My company had every manager take a course about Managing in a Diverse Workplace - in other words, once they gave us training, the company is no longer liable if we misbehave.

    Anyway, it was a bit extreme. One example was not allowing an employee to talk about recent medical issues and potential resolutions. The thought is that if you know they might be taking medical leave, you might not assign them to a project that could've led to a promotion because of the timing. If the person felt that they should have been assigned to the project and connected the dots to their illness, they could sue you and possibly the company for discrimination. If you had no knowledge of potential follow up medical issues and made the same decision, then there's no case.

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