My supervisor, who’s also working from home, calls me several times a day. The calls always start out being work-related but then she starts talking about her kids or other personal matters I’m not interested in.
This isn’t how she behaved at work. There, she was all business and so at first it was kind of cool that she got into this relationship stuff. Now, her calls creep me out. I don’t want to know so much about her. I’m scared we’re wasting time and our department won’t be profitable and our jobs will be on the chopping block. I’ve tried to politely get her to stop, but she takes my attempts as if I feel she’s “hogging” our time on her stuff and so she asks me invasive questions.
At some point, we’ll all go back into the office and I can’t afford to tick her off. Why’s she doing this? How can I get her to stop?
Your supervisor, like many, may feel anxious and overwhelmed. She may be talking to make herself feel better. She may be trying to bridge the loneliness she feels now that she’s working from home instead of around others. She may be trying to reassure you that she values you and not realize she annoys you.
Your best bet? Be honest without being insulting. Say, “I worry when we spend on non-work matters, because I know our department needs to keep our productivity up.” If she’s chatted for a few minutes, say, “Well, I need to get back into that report so I can send it to you before noon.” If she asks you a question you don’t want to answer, you can say, “That’s pretty personal.” In other words, remind her to flip her work switch back on.