Question: “In our office, everyone takes turns with the kitchen duties, including the owner of the business. However, we recently got a new co-worker who refuses to do his tasks correctly. Whenever someone takes out the garbage, that person is supposed to put a new bag in the trash can, but this guy never replaces the bag. I tried to teach him about this nicely, but it didn’t do any good. Finally, after asking him numerous times, I got so fed up that I left the garbage container in his chair, hoping he would get the message. He was quite upset about this, but he’s still not replacing the bag. I feel that he is being very inconsiderate to our group. What else can I do?” — Furious
Answer: By turning a relatively minor transgression into World War III, you have insured that your annoying colleague will never do what you want. The two of you are engaged in a classic power struggle, and he’s not going to let you win.
Since you’re not the boss, you lack the authority to order bag replacement. And any further escalation of the conflict will just make you appear obsessive. So what choices do you have now?
One possibility is to rally other irritated employees and stage a trash bag intervention with your lazy coworker. Complaining to the owner is another option, although that might make you seem like a tattletale.
Or perhaps you could try a more creative solution. Publicly post rotation assignments for trash duty, with your helpful owner scheduled immediately after the slacker. If there’s no bag in the can when the boss goes to take out the garbage, this problem could be solved very quickly.
Are you aggravating your colleagues at work? To find out, take our Quick Quiz: Do You Annoy Your Co-Workers?