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Dear STC: No One Cares If I’m Comfortable At Work

December 22, 2009

Dear Bradley,

I feel stupid because I have to wear my winter coat every day while I’m at work no matter what the season. In the summer our building is air conditioned and it’s usually around 65 degrees at my desk when its 90 outside. Now that it is winter the building is heated to 80 degrees yet I’m still freezing because my boss opens his window even though I’ve told him over and over that the cold air bothers me! I have also complained to our union about it because I have a sinus condition. If I run my space heater too long I get debilitating sinus headaches or a sinus infection.

I don’t know what else to do. All of my complaints have fallen on deaf ears. No one cares if I am comfortable at work. Jobs are difficult to come by these days and I can’t just quit and go somewhere else.

Cold and alone


Dear Cold and Alone,

That indeed is a challenging situation – something that most people take for
granted, but for you is tortuous. It is unfortunate that your requests fell
on deaf ears, but then again, how did you pose the problem? If it was heard
as whiny complaint from a hypchondriac (no offense, please!), then they are
more likely to blow it off. Another approach is to turn it into a
productivity issue. In other words, make the issue all about getting more
work done, making your boss look good, and having as few distractions as

Positioning the problem in a way that makes it look like you are really
interested in helping others do better might get someone’s attention. And
when you bring up the problem, be upbeat with a positive attitude – make
sure to smile and use plenty of eye contact when you present the problem!

Try again, and I hope next time you are successful!

All my best to you,


One Comment leave one →
  1. December 22, 2009 5:18 pm

    If “Cold and Alone” has a documentable medical condition that causes the problem described, she or he is entitled to a reasonable accommodation. And, I would say, the most reasonable accommodation would be to move the workspace so he or she is away from drafts, opening doors, open windows, direct-air vents, etc. Surely, there is such a spot in Cold and Alone’s workplace.

    Even if there is no medical condition, this problem begs for the simplest of solutions. But, as Bradley so well says, how a request is made makes all the difference. Before going to talk with the manager/supervisor or HR, write out a scenario of how you’ll present the problem. Read it over, even practice it. Don’t just present the problem with the expectation that something will be done, however. Be ready, before being asked, to offer a solution yourself, a solution researched in advance that you know is possible to effect. Maybe that means talking the issue over with a co-worker who has the opposite problem and wouldn’t mind sitting where he can feel the cold wafting in. You won’t know until you stop feeling the need to complain and begin seeing how you can be part of the problem’s resolution.

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