A reader writes:
I work in a corporate setting within the Technology department. My direct supervisor who is a Vice President chews tobacco during business hours. The fact that he chews tobacco doesn't necessarily bother me. It's the spitting in a cup during departmental meetings that does. The only saving grace from me not puking is that the cup is coated with print and you cannot see the mucous.
Just for a moment’s time can you picture the following: "Now for this data set we are going to *SPIT* replicate this to the backup *SPIT* server then on every last *SPIT* day of the month the data should go *SPIT* off site."
His repulsive habits are not only disgusting, but it challenges my ability to take him seriously or even respect him as a superior. Furthermore, during said meetings he constantly checks his Blackberry for calls or emails with no regard to the persons actually talking to him. This type of behavior comes across as arrogant and makes you feel irrelevant.
This type of childish behavior is rather common place within my department. On a regular basis I deal with co-workers who don’t wear belts and bend over often, cuss at the top of their lungs, slam objects in their office as if mommy didn’t buy them that special toy, and computer equipment named after genitals (not kidding).
This is a small company with tight-knit relationships. I don’t feel comfortable confronting the issue head on and even contemplated talking to the President. However, he is friends with the offenders and is aware of the situation. I’ve overheard him making comments in a jokingly manner like “That stuff will kill you” or “Does your wife know you do that stuff?"
I take my job very seriously. I am very proud of my work ethic and quality of work. However, I feel as if I work for frat boys that only want to play in a sandbox. Am I just nitpicking or should I head for the hills?
I don't think you're nitpicking, but I don't think you can change this stuff.
This isn't a matter of one or two things that you'd like to see change; you're talking about an entire culture. And it's a culture that most other employees apparently like, including the president. Whether or not they should like it is beside the point; the fact is that they do. You can't singlehandedly change an office culture. And in this case, it's not really yours to change.
The thing you probably have the best hope of changing is your boss' habit of checking his blackberry while talking to you. This won't necessarily work, but you can try saying to him, "I've noticed that when we meet, it's usually at times when you need to be monitoring your blackberry. Is there a time we could meet when you wouldn't need to?" Might work, might not.
But it sounds like you simply don't like the office culture, and there's nothing wrong with that. No office culture will be right for everyone. My advice is to figure out if you can find ways to live with it and be reasonably happy. If you can't, you can't, and you need to proceed accordingly. But I wonder if there aren't ways for you to live in it peacefully.