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Politeness Muddies Communication

Dear Big Kahuna,

Thank you for being a very polite boss to our team. I understand that being the newbie who takes over for a beloved retired Big Kahuna has its challenges, and perhaps the way for you to ease some of that tension is to be really polite about asking people to work overtime. Some people on your team do not like it one bit, and others love the opportunity to make a little extra right before the holidays. And some, like myself, do actually need the extra money to a certain extent. So while the exhaustion is wearing on many of us, we keep putting in the long hours because they are fairly compensated.


But here’s where your politeness is becoming a bit of an issue. When you email all of us and tell us that OT is available, you lead these emails by saying, “I would like you to” or “It would be nice if you”. This is very unclear. So much so, that the limits for this week are left completely up to interpretation. Is it voluntary? Are you telling us that the number of hours for OT is a minimum or a maximum? Is it a rough guideline? Our managers that we report to, who sit next to each other, can’t even agree on what you mean.

I am very confused as to why my coworker is allowed to work a higher limit than I am. Frankly, so is she.


Please be direct with your underlings.


Your top performing underling who doesn’t want to sit in traffic if I don’t have to.

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