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Old 07-21-2009, 09:46 AM
Location: Both sides of the Red River
778 posts, read 2,280,321 times
Reputation: 1121


Hello all,

I am posting this question because I’m sure many of you have years of experience to give to this youngin’. A little about myself, I am a recent May college grad from a large state school…if you look at my screen name I’m sure you’ll figure out which one. This past year, my senior year I was fortunate enough to get an internship at a small O&G firm. The March before I graduated I was offered a full time position with this company, complete with a pretty good starting salary ($42K), full health insurance, matching 401K, laid back office environment, basically what any college grad could ask for in this wretched economy. I started working full time barely a week after I graduated. However, now in my 2nd month of working full time, I’m noticing a trend at my office that is really starting to bug me. Everyone in this office seems to take the term “laid back” to an extreme. Here’s a few things this week that have happened:

The guy at the work station behind me won’t stop complaining about how his recently pregnant wife won’t have sex with him. Um okay….oh yeah and he likes to download soft-core porn on his Iphone and brag about it.

Two of the people in my office will get into almost daily screaming matches about politics, sports, basically nothing to do with work, and usually when I’m on the phone. They haven’t been as bad lately because I threatened to move my desk if they wouldn’t stop. But it still happens quite frequently.

My bosses (I say bosses because our companies is head up by 3 lawyers in a partnership), while very smart and friendly, have got to be some of the most disorganized people I have met in my life. One scheduled a meeting with me on a Sunday to get some work done, only to not show up. I received a text message 3 hours after she was supposed to be there saying she forget (no apology).

What may be the last straw. An employee who was recently deployed to Iraq came back. While I was initially happy to meet him, I have had to listen to constant stories from him talking about how he gets BJ’s, hooking up with girls, getting wasted, etc. etc. since he’s been back. I’ve thought about complaining to my bosses, but they basically consider him a hero.

All of this atmosphere is starting to get to me, to the point where it’s hard for me to get anything done. I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming the office recluse and I’m slowly becoming more withdrawn. Sorry, I like to have fun, but I don’t think yapping about your sex life or what you think about politics is appropriate at work. I hate that I’m becoming this way because other than this I actually like my job. I’m also worried because I have heard stories that people at my firm have been dismissed because they don’t fit into the culture. I’m increasingly concerned that I may meet a similar fate. What are some of my options (besides quitting)? I really hate that I’m becoming one of those whiny people that constantly b*tch about their jobs.
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Old 07-21-2009, 09:56 AM
Location: Deep in the heart of Texas
1,914 posts, read 7,056,525 times
Reputation: 1987
Just try to ignore them as much as possible. DO NOT try to fit in with them and DO NOT go and complain, it will only backfire, trust me! I have been in the rat race for over 20 years! Try to stay there as long as humanly possible just to get the experience and then move on. And get used to it, this is the way the workplace is. I try to let everyone know by ACTIONS or lack thereof that I am NOT one to BS around the office, I don't cuss, talk about inapproriate behaviors or about my family life much, don't discuss politics or religion (and btw I'm Mormon). People get the picture pretty quickly. I let my work ethic speak for itself. I have a very good reputation of being a professional and "sharp" as I've heard many call me. You need to build a reputation of being reliable, professional, ethical and hard working. Good luck. You're gonna need it, I'm afraid.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:01 AM
Location: Stuck in NE GA right now
4,585 posts, read 12,209,135 times
Reputation: 6676
I suggest you keep your head down be thankful for the job you have - it sounds like a really good one for a new grad. When the economy finally turns around you'll have a wealth of experience and can look for a new job.

You will find that BS in any office environment some worse than others.
Either put on ear phones, try to change the conversation or if your really bold as that they not share so much of their personal life.

Your best bet is to ignor it and get on with your work...you can't change other people but you can lead by example, only participate in conversations your comfortable with unless it's work related.

If your boss didn't show up for three hours on a Sunday why weren't you on the phone to them after 30 mins.???
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:03 AM
26,588 posts, read 61,104,351 times
Reputation: 13151
Tough spot to be in, and I agree it sounds byond unprofessional.

As far the guy behind you, I'd take him aside and ask him what he thinks his wife would think if she knew about the way he talks about their love life, because you'd hate for it to get back to her. Make sure you do it as if he's your buddy, not that you are threatening to go to her. Chances are it will shut him up.

The shouting match people, I'd put the caller on hold and tell them that the clent is concerned about the noise in the background and maybe they could find a more suitable place for their discussion.

The guy from Iraq I'd take aside and let him know that you've heard through the grapevine that some people aren't thrilled with how descriptive some of his stories are and he might want to tone it down a bit. Maybe offer to take him out for a berr and do it that way so it doesn't seem accusatory.

And the lawyers--most of them are flakes, it's jsut the way it is. If you're going to stay in that industry it's unfortunately something you'll just need to get used to. Next time they ask you to come in on teh weekend, ask the attorney to give you a call to confirm an hour in advance. Do it via e-mail. That way if the attorney doesn't call they can't complain taht you didn't show.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:43 AM
6,764 posts, read 21,791,697 times
Reputation: 4769
I agree with everyone else. Be pleasant but if someone brings up a subject you are not comfortable with, you should try to nicely go back to work or ignore them.

Sometimes people like to shock others, especially newbies. They also want to see how much they can get away with and how far they can make them uncomfortable.

It's almost as bad starting a new job (getting to fit in with others, being accepted, sigh) as it is trying to find a job.

Hang in there.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:52 AM
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
12,054 posts, read 22,891,931 times
Reputation: 31910
Put your headphones on and ignore them because in this economy it is difficult to find employment. As I read your post, I felt that this was a hostile environment for you, but once the economy turns around, you will have the experience to move on. For those who want to brag about their exploits, simply tell them that you are not interested in hearing their stories and then get back to work. Or, you might say that people who have to brag, really have nothing to brag about. I would not meet anyone on Sunday, even your boss. If this is such a laid back organization, then they expect you to have some sort of social life, so plead family obligations if it happens again.
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:10 AM
1,896 posts, read 6,683,121 times
Reputation: 1614
I wish I could work in a place like that instead of being around a bunch of stuffed shirts.

You aren't going to change their behavior, so your choices are: adapt, ignore them, quit, or wait to get fired because you don't fit in.
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:31 AM
1,714 posts, read 5,960,555 times
Reputation: 696
You could always have a tape recorder out on your desk. This is a maneuver which has been known to shut down nasty talk.

Be sure you think through the likely consequences before you do it.
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:35 PM
9,856 posts, read 14,988,839 times
Reputation: 5479
I graduated in 2008 and was immediately faced with a very similar situation. Whatever you do, do NOT confront them about any of this. You will label yourself as an a** and a troublemaker, and your career will suffer.

Just keep your head down and do your job. Be better at your job than the people around you, and it will pay off. This is what I did, and I just got a promotion a few weeks ago (2 years faster than any other new hire in the office). It took at least 5 months, but my boss finally realized he could trust me to get work done, and that I was very reliable. My plan is to put in one more year so I have the experience to quit and apply for a better job somewhere else. Besides, what is your goal at this point in your life? (mine was to be a manager with at least 3 people under me within 5 years of graduation) While at work, work to accomplish that goal, and if you don't fit in...who cares? I have my own friends and social life outside of work - I am not too concerned with fitting in while I am at the office.

With all due respect to annerk, the WORST thing you could do is approach anyone about these things. That is a very easy way to make enemies out of co-workers. After I got my promotion, a co-worker (who wastes a good 3-4 hours a day talking) admitted to me that he probably doesn't work as hard as he should. It would have been easier to say something right away, or even quit, but if you keep your mouth shut and consistently produce quality work with no complaining, you can change the culture, and it does pay off.
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:51 PM
304 posts, read 890,353 times
Reputation: 164
At least you're not having the bible shoved down your throat and reminded daily that Jesus loves you. Be friendly, do your work and excuse yourself if it gets uncomfortable. In every job where you work with people you will have this to some degree. You're getting a very nice salary for your age, I would definately put up with it.
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