Told to Not Ask Why

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a perplexing order: In the meeting, he talked about work and about rumors in the company. After the meeting, I again asked him why I had to sit in there with another department people to hear about its work and rumors.

Last week my boss emailed me where I work in another department to attend a meeting. I emailed him back asking why I had to come to the meeting, and he said he’d “discuss that in the meeting.” In the meeting, he talked about work and about rumors in the company. After the meeting, I again asked him why I had to sit in there with another department people to hear about its work and rumors. He said he had to do that.

The next day I emailed him and cc the owner and HR. I asked him if I had done some things wrong. Is that why you had me attend? I said, “If I had, you could call me to your office and let me explain.” The owner then called me to his office and said he “supported my boss to have me attend and he told me stop emailing my boss. If not, I will get warning or get fired.” Please give me advice.

Signed, Wonder Why

Dear Wonder Why:

It is obvious you were worried about being invited to a meeting by your boss, because you work in another department. Consequently you persisted in asking him why; so much so that the owner of your company told you to stop pestering your boss. So my advice is to stop.Of course it would be wise to review what might have prompted him telling you to come to the meeting. But don’t allow that to rumble through your mind again and again.

Your boss wanted you there or thought you should attend to hear what was said about the work of that department and rumors. So soak it up. If it applies to you, learn from it. If not, let it go. Be glad you had a chance to hear him. Now don’t gossip to your coworkers about why. Don’t continue to email him. Just focus on doing what you are hired to do. Also focus on ways to be as productive as is reasonable and to find ways to improve.Boss-called meetings are intended to inform those bossed about what’s going on or should not be going on; such as spreading rumors. As you might notice I rewrote your email. I apologize if it doesn’t now say what you meant to say. You might wonder why I rewrote it. You could email me to ask why.

In response, I could say, as your boss said, “Because I had to” and let you continue to wonder why. Or you could put on your thinking cap, compare your original and my version, and determine I did so to improve its grammar. You could tell yourself  that I think you need some training to improve your writing and decide to get some tutoring. I don’t want you to worry about that, but to learn from it. That would be wise if you want to improve your skills and be more secure in your present job or where ever you seek a job.

Perhaps your job doesn’t demand that you write well, but my few changes should help you know that you should keep writing and can learn from someone who will take the time to help you. I took the time to use this example to illustrate that it’s good to ask why, and that if you don’t get an answer it is wise to do your own thinking about why. Does this make sense? Your effort to ask why was not wrong. We only learn when we ask why. But what was wrong, in your boss and your owner’s eyes, it is wrong to keep asking. We need to learn that some people don’t explain their actions or have a reason they choose not to.

I hope this incident doesn’t sour you on keeping communication lines open with your boss. It is wise at performance evaluation time and occasionally informally to ask, “How well am I doing my job and are there are ways to improve?” That idea is embedded in my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. You might wonder what is the meaning of this sentence. You might ask why I write it. That’s good that you ask. But you are smart enough to know it is meant for you to think about your part in making your workplace successful.

William Gorden