Unhappy Co-Worker Taking the Office Down

Dear Vicki: My brother Ted is having trouble with a co-worker who appears very hostile toward him. They work with a group of people in an accounting firm where no one has private offices. Everyone has cubicles, so most sound carries. Ted takes his job very seriously, and is really good at it, but he’s also a pretty caring guy who likes to socialize with his co-workers. The problem is that whenever he talks to anyone, this particular co-worker (I’ll call her Ann) gets furious that he’s making noise. Ann apparently wants the whole office to be deathly quiet so she can concentrate, but Ted says it’s bringing the whole place down. Do you have any suggestions regarding how Ted can he handle this situation? Signed, My Brother’s Helper

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Dear Brother’s Helper: Bravo to you for stepping up to help Ted. Office dynamics are always interesting because, within reason, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way for co-workers to interact. Some offices have company events and encourage socializing, others much less so. But outside of the tone set by the company itself, how people get along at work really can depend on their elemental personalities. After all, a relationship is a relationship!

It sounds to me like Ted is a primary Metal personality who has a strong secondary Earth personality. This means he will be great at precision (thus his success as an accountant) but will also value relationships with his fellow co-workers. Whether standing around the proverbial water cooler chatting, or laughing at jokes with others, this form of connecting will be important to Ted. On the other hand, I suspect that Ann is a primary Wood personality. Wood people value doing the best they can and getting ahead. They also rarely like to socialize unless it serves a significant purpose. But what her secondary elemental personality is will also matter.

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