Dear Miss Sophisticated Manners
I work as an assistant to the president in a very large office complex. My boss has been kind enough to provide a very spacious break room with all of the amenities. I hear him boast to visiting colleagues how important it is for employee morale and performance to provide them a space where they can enjoy downtime to unwind during the day. Apparently, that sentiment is meant for everyone but me. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a day go by that he doesn’t come in to the break room to interrupt my lunch for something business related. He will grab a cup of coffee, sit at the table with me, and say something like, “hey, let’s review these figures while we are both free. This will just take a minute”. I have tried to tell him nicely that I’m eating my lunch, but he seems to think that I’m being shy about eating in front of him.
Not sure what to do, I love my job. My boss and I get along very well and work very well together. This is the only part that I don’t like about it.
Miss Sophisticated Manners Says
You have every right to want time for yourself on your lunch break. I’m not a lawyer, but if you’re not on the clock, I’m not even sure of the legality of what he is doing. The fact is, if you love your job, and it sounds like in every other aspect you like your boss, you may just need to find an alternative that will work for both of you. Without being combative, you need to clearly convey to him how important that these short breaks are for you to be more productive throughout the afternoon.
Next time he comes in, just tell him it has been a mentally exhausting morning and that your brain could really use the few minutes of downtime. You could also tell him that you were counting on using this personal time to take care of a few personal matters.
If talking to him doesn’t work, I would suggest the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ tactic.
Though it doesn’t seem fair that everyone else gets to enjoy that wonderful break room but you, I think it best that you simply leave the building on your breaks. Eat your lunch in a nearby park. Or on rainy days find a nice, inexpensive restaurant to serve as your break room. It may be more expensive than eating your lunch in the break room, but quitting your job in frustration may be even more costly.