Sister can't say, 'You're not the boss of me!'
BY AMY DICKINSON
Saturday, January 05, 2013
1/08/13 at 8:14 AM
Dear Amy: I'm a part-time employee for my brother's small business. He recently offered me a new full-time position in the office.
I get along with everyone at the company. One employee and I have become friends. We are both women about the same age, and we have a lot in common.
I received an email from my brother reprimanding me for talking with her for longer than he felt was appropriate. He added up the time we spent talking on a particular day and said we spent an hour conversing. He asked me not to make a regular habit of it.
It bothers me that I need to be told how to act with someone who is my own age. The fact that he did this in an email several days later also bothers me. I also doubt he mentioned anything to the other employee, because I'm his sister and it's easier for him to direct his anger at me.
I agree that on that particular day it was an hourlong conversation, but we were discussing the recent school shooting.
I haven't responded to the email yet. How do I handle this situation the next time I'm in the office? I don't want to make him sound like a jerk; I know she likes working there, and I don't want to upset her. - Social Sister
Dear Sister: It can be challenging to work for family members. In this situation you should think of him as your employer.
I think it's reasonable for an employer to ask a prospective full-time employee to curb behavior that he has observed at the office. Remember that when you spend an hour talking to a fellow employee, your brother loses two hours of productivity - yours and the other employee
You should assume that your brother is trying to lay out his expectations with clarity before you start. This saves both of you the embarrassment of having him call you on the carpet while at work.
If you don't think you can accept your brother's position as your boss, then you should not work for him. Sit down with him before you start the job. Acknowledge and face the special challenge of working for him.
You don't need to discuss this with your friend at work; you only need to reasonably modulate your own behavior.
Dear Amy: Regarding how to tell someone they have body odor, here's how a friend of mine handled it with his employees: "There must be something wrong with the laundry detergent or dry cleaner you are using because a chemical reaction between your clothing and the cleaning fluids is causing your clothes to smell badly." - Sweet Smelling
Dear Sweet: This works, as long as the person is able to take the hint.
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