A reader writes:
The norm at my org, like many, is to maintain your calendar up to date in order that conferences could be scheduled with out doing the “Are you accessible at X time?” dance. Due to this, I embrace non-work appointments on my calendar, and I usually mark them as “non-public.” Up to now month, I’ve finished this for 2 medical appointments, choosing my canine up on the groomer, and as soon as blocking the 4:30-5 pm slot to make sure I don’t get scheduled for a gathering and may go away work on time to make an after-work dedication. All of those absences are nice with my boss; she actually doesn’t thoughts so long as our calendar is up to date so we don’t get scheduled for a gathering we can’t attend and our work will get finished.
Nonetheless, she all the time asks what the non-public appointments are on my calendar. Simply yesterday she chatted me: “What’s the non-public appointment in your calendar for on Wednesday?” So far as I do know, she was not within the means of scheduling something with me for Wednesday or another time this week.
Am I mistaken in assuming that, if I marked them non-public they’re … non-public? I imply, sure, she is my boss, and it’s my work calendar, so perhaps she thinks she ought to get to ask, however I might by no means ask somebody that. If she wanted data, she might ask one thing like: “I see an appointment in your calendar for Wednesday round lunchtime. Is that one thing that may be moved?” I don’t know if it’s related, however we’re each ladies working in a female-dominated discipline, the identical age, and have labored collectively for two+ years. This boss additionally has some fairly vital boundary points, which is what I’ve all the time chalked this habits as much as, however for some cause it’s beginning to get below my pores and skin.
Is that this okay for her to ask as a result of it’s on my work calendar? And in that case, how do I mark myself as unavailable in Outlook however keep away from these questions? Additionally, what’s the easiest way to reply? In a earlier job, we had been advised to mark PTO requests with “enterprise that can not be performed on another day” however that appears misplaced right here partly as a result of that’s not my type in any respect and since it’s me marking myself as unavailable, not a request. I’ve tried a obscure, “Oh, I’ve an appointment,” however typically she pushes for more information.
No, it’s not okay!
It will be one factor if she thought the “non-public” stuff was work-related — like when you’re in a job the place you have got confidential conferences and don’t wish to put “assembly about Jeremy’s efficiency points” or “assembly to finalize layoffs” in your calendar the place different individuals will see it. However it doesn’t sound like that’s the case, notably given what you stated about her boundary points typically.
The following time she asks, strive saying, “Oh, at any time when I mark one thing non-public, it’s a private factor, not a piece factor.”
For many bosses, that will be sufficient. However it sounds prefer it gained’t be for her, so you would deal with it this fashion:
Boss: What’s the non-public appointment in your calendar on Wednesday?
You: Oh, at any time when I mark one thing non-public, it’s a private factor, not a piece factor.
Boss: However what’s that appointment?
You: Only a private factor I must maintain. If it’s making a battle, I can see if I can transfer it. (Or when you can’t transfer it: I can’t transfer it, however I can transfer stuff round the remainder of the week when you want me to.)
Even nosy bosses will often go away it there — you’ve simply received to be prepared to try this second spherical of pushback.
But when she does hold pushing to know what the appointment is, there’s no cause you’ll be able to’t say, “Are you saying you wish to know what the non-public, non-work factor is?” … adopted by, relying on her reply, “I’m fairly non-public about that stuff.” And perhaps, “But when blocking that point is inflicting a difficulty, let me know and I’ll attempt to change it.”
That’s simply the one interplay although. You’ll in all probability be capable of get her to again off within the second (and hopefully while not having to get all the best way to the top of that script), however you’ll nonetheless possible must repeat the identical trade when she asks about different appointments sooner or later.
Assuming you do certainly end up having this trade time and again, it’s additionally affordable to say one thing like: “I’ve seen you’ve been asking what appointments on my calendar marked non-public are. That’s all the time private stuff that I desire to not share at work. Is there a distinct manner you need me to mark non-work appointments to make that clear?”
Or: “I’ve seen you’ve been asking what appointments on my calendar marked non-public are. That’s all the time private stuff that I desire to not share at work. I’d be grateful when you’d assume that’s the case once you see slots marked that manner. But when there’s a distinct manner you need me to mark them, I can.”
With nosy bosses, it’s all the time fascinating to ponder whether or not (a) their nosiness stems from pondering their place entitles them to poke round in your non-public enterprise or (b) they’re nosy individuals in all areas of life and haven’t realized that nosiness towards somebody they handle has a really totally different energy dynamic than nosiness towards, say, their neighbor or their sister-in-law. I are likely to suppose it’s about 70% B and solely 30% A (there are loads of nosy, boundary-violating individuals on the market and a few of them turn out to be managers) … however in some methods a supervisor who’s oblivious about energy dynamics could be nearly as unhealthy as one who deliberately exploits them.