Male Coworkers Interrupts My Wife’s Phone Calls

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about personal calls:

My wife has been working at her job now for over 19 years. Lately what has being bothering me is, it seems that every time when I’m talking to my wife on the phone (she is at work) one or more of her male coworkers interrupt her with something. They know she is talking to her husband,(me) but come to her with something to interfere with our call. This is becoming annoying and upsetting with me and her workplace.

She has to let me go and rarely puts me on hold. Also we are not talking for long periods of time. Usually less than 5 minutes or so but they are approaching her. We may only talk once or maybe twice a day. Her workplace is a office but I feel that they are targeting her personal calls. I have told her to be upfront with them and tell them politely to wait. I feel that they are standing at her station waiting and listening as if to hurry the call.Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Every time I mention to her that I think it is rude of them, she tells me she is at work, so she tends to them. The office where she works is very slow/non busy workplace. Thanks

Signed, Interrupted

DearĀ Interrupted:

No matter how frustrating it is to you and your wife, there is probably not much she can do to stop the interruptions when she is on a personal phone call. When personal phone calls are approved in an office, they still can’t get in the way of work, even if it seems the work isn’t necessary right then. If this is a new occurrence, maybe there are new circumstances or new employees that are making a difference. But even then, she probably couldn’t ask them to not bring work to her.However, one way she might handle it would be to set up a time with you for a call, rather than having you call her at random. Then, she could say, “I’m going to be on the phone for a few minutes. Is there something you need before I make my call?” Or, when you call she could answer the phone, then put you on hold and say the same thing, thus giving the two of you a few minutes for a phone call without interruptions.

After 19 years there, surely she has enough respect from others and enough influence, that her request for a few minutes of phone time would be honored.If she has a cell phone she is allowed to use at work, perhaps she can take it to the ladies restroom or outside on a break, and talk to you there. Or, the two of you could talk when she is on her lunch break. The most important thing is that she not jeopardize her work over what is apparently a non-emergency, short phone call anyway.Another thing to consider is the nature of your call to her. If the men in her office think she sounds distressed, frustrated or irritated while talking to you, they may feel they are rescuing her from an unpleasant situation. If she is laughing and talking, maybe they just resent her having a good time when they have work to do. Whatever the situation, it would be almost impossible for her to say anything to them. In fact, to do so might create a very bad situation if one of them was to complain.

I wish there was an easy way for you to feel better about this, but it may be you will simply have to either not call her at work or accept the interruptions. One thing is for sure, it probably adds to her work stress to have you become upset about something she feels powerless to control. Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know if you and she work out a way to improve the situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.