Ask Kari: How can I stop my co-worker from using my office when I’m not there?

Dear Kari,

A co-worker uses my office when I am traveling and not in the office. He leaves it a mess! I have tried to suggest politely that I like order and would prefer that he does not use my space, but he doesn’t take the hint. What do you think I should do to make him stop using my space?

--Neat Freak Colleague

Dear Neat Freak Colleague,

I completely understand your complaint, as I too like everything neat and organized. I am not fond of people using my space either. It seems you have tried the polite suggestion route with your colleague, yet gotten nowhere. Now you will have to just flat-out tell him that it makes you uncomfortable when he uses your office and you would like him to stop doing so. Will he react respectfully? One hopes so that both of you can continue to work together in a cohesive manner moving forward. If not, I suggest you speak with your leadership and ask them to make your request known to him again on your behalf.


As published in the November 2013 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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