Advice given on July 25, 2022.
One of my colleagues at work is what I’ve defined as a “sigh guy”. He is a good worker, but he always seems so uneager to actually do any work. When we have a meeting and he is assigned a task, or when someone stops by his desk to ask a question, he begins with an audible sigh. Then he gets on with the work, or starts to answer the question. How can I tell him this sigh is very off-putting? It makes me feel like I am burdening him by asking him to do his job? To be fair, I don’t know if he is actually burdened, or if this is some sort of physical habit he associated with getting his brain in gear before performing a task. What should I do?
Interesting situation to be in. It doesn’t sound like your coworker is actually complaining about his role. Like you admit, you don’t know if these sighs are because he is reluctant to work, or just a habit. That being said, I don’t think you can or should ask him to stop. It sounds like he’s a good worker, and you didn’t indicate that his answers to questions are rude or condescending. So if that is the case, let the guy sigh. I think you should reframe your mindset to be more accommodating of different people’s habits and quirks. Sure, maybe sighing has a bit of a negative connotation in the workplace, but it doesn’t seem like it is indicative of anything particularly bad in this case. If this guy is a trainee of yours, you could mention this if you are involved in his professional development. But if you are a colleague, and not in a mentorship role, I would stay out of it and not mention the sighing at all.
All the best,