My husband and I work for the same company in different departments. Over the past few months one of his employees seems to be going out of her way to make awkward statements to me about my husband.
She mentioned seeing my husband in his college soccer uniform, and when I inquired where she saw this, she got nervous and admitted she Googled him. She tells me stories about my husband almost as though she thinks she is the one in a relationship with him. This woman is married with children and has always gone out of her way to “be my friend.”
A few days ago I was lucky enough to run into her outside of work with her children. She introduced me and told her children I was my husband’s wife. When I asked the oldest child if she had met my husband, she said, “No, but my mom talks about him allllll the time.” The kid actually rolled her eyes as she said it.
It gave me goose bumps and completely creeped me out. When I mentioned it to my husband, he agreed the situation is odd, and I could tell it made him uncomfortable. My husband is a kind man, but lately I have seen him blow her off or flat out ignore her.
Now that I think about it, every time I see her it’s something new and creepy. I think this woman is obsessed with my husband. My friends have encouraged me to “stand up to her and say something,” but I don’t think that would solve anything.
My husband and I have a wonderful relationship and even laughed about some of the things she has done. Am I reading too much into this? Am I being a doormat by keeping my mouth shut?
Suzi, your husband loves and respects you, and the doormat syndrome doesn’t describe you.
One of the main reasons people stay in a job, a reason more important than money, is they think well of their boss, admire the boss, have a good relationship with the boss.
Your husband is a “kind man.” Why wouldn’t an employee like him? If what she is doing is no more than chatter, it may seem odd but it’s not dangerous. People talk about what is important to them. A boss will always be more in the life of an employee than the employee is in the life of the boss.
But that’s not how it looks from your side. You and your husband see her more as a faceless subordinate. Why is the waiter talking to me? Why is the maid? If you thought she was charming, or she ran in your social circle, or you shared common interests, she would seem less creepy.
You might see her as a potential friend or acquaintance. “I will invite her to the party.” Because you don’t see her that way, she creeps you out. “I’m not interested in this person, why is she interested in us?”
Perhaps she idolizes your husband, like a woman idolizing her doctor. Perhaps she is doing what the business books tell her to do. Show interest in the boss, show interest in his family, develop contacts. What is LinkedIn all about? Connect to others as a way to help yourself.
In many jobs, what you know doesn’t matter much. People know what to do. It’s who you interact with that makes the difference between stagnation and moving up. Connections move you up, just as cream rises to the top.
People Google everything in their orbit. It’s harmless until proven otherwise. From what we see in your letter, this woman may be socially awkward. She may be trying to get a leg up, but not a leg over.
Until something changes, don’t be mean to her. Just be cool. Her actions aren’t sinister, just unwelcome.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of March 31, 2014
Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.