Friday, December 31, 1999

you know it's bad when the non-complainer is complaining

[Posted on July 16, 2021, at 9:30 p.m.]

My Korean coworker is fairly quiet, partly because he's the only full Korean on our team. Our boss is American, but fluent in Korean, so my coworker can speak with him naturally. My Korean coworker speaks with me in Korean, but I'm far less fluent, so conversation between us is clunky and requires a lot of patience and forgiveness on his part. Generally speaking, my coworker isn't the type to speak up when things are difficult. Like a lot of Koreans in the corporate world, he simply sucks it up and takes it, which means we never hear him complain.

But now, things are different.

The problem is our American coworker, whom I think I've mentioned before. Our American coworker is a nonstop chatterbox, and while I generally screen him out unless he's addressing me directly, his mouth is starting to get to my Korean coworker, who has taken to complaining to me about our American colleague. You know it's got to be bad when someone who normally doesn't complain about anything is now complaining about a coworker. We both agree our American colleague is a good guy, and his heart is in the right place, but things may be coming to a head soon, especially if no one says anything. 

My problem is that my Korean coworker doesn't really want to speak up because he's a kind-hearted, gentle soul (i.e., he has no spine when it comes to confrontations), and he'd be mortified if I told our American coworker that our Korean coworker was having trouble concentrating on his work because of all the chatter. So I think what I'm going to have to do is take the burden of assholery upon myself, tell my American coworker to dial the chatter back 90%, and not mention my Korean coworker at all.

This problem therefore becomes my cross to bear, and as I said, while I too don't like all the chatter, I mentally screen most of it out. My Korean coworker apparently can't do that, but that's understandable. In this situation, I wish for several things: I wish my American coworker had the perceptiveness to know when to stop running his goddamn mouth; I wish my Korean coworker had the spine to stand up for himself and tell my American coworker to please stop talking so fucking much. But neither of those wishes is going to come true, so next week, I'll be the asshole who tells my gabby American coworker to learn the virtues of silence.

Probably should've said something months ago.


John Mac said...

Um, isn't that the boss's job? If he hasn't had occasion to notice, it seems more appropriate for you to make him aware that Chatterbox is impacting both productivity and workplace harmony with his diarrhea of the mouth. Your intercession could potentially backfire should your co-worker decide to become confrontational. Tell the boss there's a problem and let him sort it out.

Kevin Kim said...

Good points. I'll figure out something.

Charles said...

Gotta agree with John here, I think. No need to put yourself directly in the line of fire.

I remember when I used to have to work in a room with other people. That was a goddamned nightmare. I don't envy you.

Kevin Kim said...

Since this problem is more between my Korean coworker and my American coworker, maybe I should just say and do nothing. But if I go that route, I fear what's going to happen is that my Korean coworker will never grow a spine and defend himself, and he'll instead just quit without ever saying why (although I'll know the reason). In a sense, he's partially at fault because of his own passivity. Maybe I should devote my efforts to convincing him to say something to my American coworker or to our boss.