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I'd like to start off by saying that I have looked at the question Boss too friendly, but its not quite the same.

This person is not only too friendly, but too chatty and clingy as well. She seems to need my constant company, even if the conversation is completely lopsided. She sits across the cubicle from me (relatively short dividers; you can see the other person if you crane your neck - and that makes me all the more accessible for her chatter)

Here are some examples:

  • She comes over to my place only to say that she's been looking for person X all morning and keeps missing him. And that she has 2 important things to discuss with him. I know that's a bait for me take and ask what important things they are. I don't ask, so she repeats it. I still just give her a disinterested nod, and don't ask. She volunteers the information herself. It has absolutely nothing to do with me. When something similar happened in the past, I made the mistake of actually asking her why she was telling me all this when I have nothing to do with any of it. She had some lengthy response to it. She just needs some form of conversation from me - any form. So I don't feed the conversation at all these days.
  • I had a cold, which when she asked about, I told her usually goes away in a day or 2. But she talked to me for a good 10 minutes, advising me to do this and that to get better. She always has unsolicited advice for everything I do. Both professional and personal. I find that very patronizing.
  • When she schedules meetings or does something similar, that involves the entire team, she only talks to me about it beforehand. Also gives me extra information about why she decided to do what she did - information that I do not need. I have to tell her every time to talk to others about it too.
  • I'm just walking along, trying to get from point A to B in office, and if I happen to cross her path, she stops me or tags along, and has something to ask or say.

There's so much more, but I don't want to turn this into a rant. Here's what I've done so far to distance myself from her:

I always say no when she asks if I wanna have my lunch or coffee break with her. I never initiate a conversation with her or ask for help unless its necessary for my work. When she drones on, I don't respond, don't even make any eye contact and just give her the laziest, most disinterested nod, all the while doing what I was doing. I've tried telling her sometimes that I'm in the middle of something, but that only buys me 5 minutes of peace. I find that it's least disrupting to my work and temperament if I just say nothing and continue with what I was doing. Even when I have my headphones on, she comes to me and talks of pointless and irrelevant things. Outside of office, like at team events, I stay as far away from her as possible and maintain minimum contact. Moving my workstation away from hers is not an option though.

I can't possibly ignore her more, and if someone did a fraction of this to me, I would get the message lightning speed! But somehow she has the impression that we're best friends! Or that I'm her rubber duck?

As a future boss, she's quite attentive of my career goals and our one-on-one meetings have been fruitful. So there isn't any professional complaint. But I don't want this extra attention and personal relationship she's awarding me. How do I convey this to her effectively, while maintaining a working relationship with good fences? Especially since she's about to be my boss, I don't want to do anything that could make us bitter.

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    Good first question! Welcome to The Workplace. I hope you get a good answer to your question here. – Masked Man Mar 6 '18 at 12:06
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    "Or that I'm her rubber duck?" is very insightful and quite possibly the explanation for her behavior. – Dan Pichelman Mar 6 '18 at 13:35
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    You are her "Work Husband" wether you like it or not... – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 6 '18 at 16:34
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I've seen this sort of dynamic before.. there doens't appear to be any rhyme no reason to how people like this choose their "target" of this weird one-sided attachment that I can see.

The Bad News

This person is about to be your boss! - This means that you will probably be in for even more of this stuff as she feels the need to talk to you about all her new management-related stuff and also that your chance to stop this without taking some real consequences has probably passed. If she's anything like the others I've seen who do this if you actually do get through to them they see it as some sort of deeply hurtful personal rejection of them (in their head you're practically their BFF!) and they can get quite spiteful afterwards - not something you want to be inviting in someone who is soon to be your boss!

The Good News

This person is about to be your boss! - This person clearly likes you and considers you a "friend" and if so inclined and you can handle the continuing behaviour you will probably enjoy the general upsides that come from being in your bosses good books. Personally I think doing that is in an ethical grey area but since you aren't actually encouraging this or actively abusing it I can see how it might seem reasonable to just let things carry on.

Also despite what I said above in the "Bad news" section it does give you a possible out - it's risky since if it goes wrong you might end up in the cross hairs of your new boss but if you play it right you might get out from under this, or at least reduce it. Basically you just need to wait until they have been made your boss and they come to you with one of these chats that is either obviously not work related or one that relates to one of your colleagues and you say something like

I know we used to talk about this sort of stuff but that was when we were peers, now you are my boss it feels inappropriate and the other team members might get the wrong idea and think that you are showing favoritism towards me and have that impression undermine what you're doing as our manager.

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    if you actually do get through to them they see it as some sort of deeply hurtful personal rejection of them (in their head you're practically their BFF!) --- This is a precise assessment! I have considered the "good news" part of your answer too. But she gets under my skin so much that it doesn't seem worth it. I will try the favouritism argument with her. I wonder if it would stop her from telling me what soup she made at home today, but I'll give it a shot. – insanity Mar 6 '18 at 12:57
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    You can pretty much apply it to anything they might raise that would be considered to be of a personal or social nature. It's not even like it's a made up thing - there's plenty of examples out there (and info on job/employment sites) to show just how wrong it can go for both parties when a boss is friends with a subordinate. – motosubatsu Mar 6 '18 at 13:14
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    @insanity Just make sure to explain that other people can't tell what you are talking about together, just that you seem to be spending an awful lot of time conversing...so the best thing would probably be if she talked to everyone equally to build a rapport with everyone/to reduce contact to [whatever level you're comfortable with]/to stop contact entirely (pick the one that suits your taste) – Cronax Mar 6 '18 at 14:57
  • @motosubatsu i'm curious... aside from some examples, do you have any explanation of why a boss + subordinate should not be friends? – bharal Mar 6 '18 at 17:51
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    @bharal as thursdaysgeek says it makes discipline awkward - either they don't do it (and others will feel justifiably that you recieve special treatment) or they do and risk the subordinate taking it personally and the friendship being damaged. The same is true of postitive things - subordinate gets a raise or a bonus? coworkers will assume it's because of the friendship, not because they deserved it. I'm not saying it can never work but it has to be handled very, very carefully and is a potential minefield! – motosubatsu Mar 7 '18 at 16:26
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I think you need to start managing your time with her. If you're getting interrupted, don't just say you're busy, but also set a time when the two of you can talk. I would suggest this be a natural break time for you.

Talk to others who don't seem to have this problem. Maybe you're giving her more attention than everyone else. I know from your perspective, you're making efforts to appear disinterested, but everyone else may have told her to get lost.

Now that she is your boss, try to keep the focus on what your tasks are and that you need time to work on them without being interrupted. Hopefully, her new and possibly more extensive responsibilities will minimize the time she has to disrupt you. Good luck.

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(I'm using "boss" instead of "future boss")

Wait, your problem is your boss likes taking to you. And you want to stop this.

Ok, with that of our the way, I'm going to say the problem is probably with you.

This person likes you, and needs a second in command. You've been picked as this. You don't seem to want this though, because you haven't thought things through. I know that, because you've decided to come to strangers on the Internet for inter-personal advice.

Most of life is interpersonal relationships. You need to consider this. Those relationships are more important than almost anything else (health can top them) on your quality of life.

You appear a little rude - when your boss comes over, you need to realise that giving the bare minimum is rude. It's rude to anyone whether your want the conversation or not.

Not everyone will just turn up to work to work. The most successful will do a mix of both work and socialising. You write

" Even when I have my headphones on, she comes to me and talks of pointless and irrelevant things "

That's called small talk. It's used for socialising.

" She always has unsolicited advice for everything I do. Both professional and personal. "

That can be mentoring, it can just be being helpful. Talking to someone for a few minutes about health pills or whatever isn't condescending either. It's just talking to someone about health pills.

You boss sounds chatty. Which I guess is your real issue, but the way you've broached it implies you lack a lot of social awareness and skills.

You can deal with chatty people by

  • when busy and they come over, tell them you're busy and to come back, please, in an hour?
  • when they're chatting engage with them, and after a few minutes then thank them the chat but you need to get something done

You won't stop someone being chatty without damaging your relationship with them (they're chatty because they like you). No point in damaging a relationship when you don't have to.

You always want to be friends with your boss. You always want to be friends with your coworkers.

  • If you had said "friendly", I'd have agreed. But I don't think I need to be friends with anyone, unless I truly like them and like spending time with them. This one, I don't like spending time with. I don't think I need to explain myself for it, but it's because she doesn't respect my personal space, barges into other conversations uninvited and always has the most irrelevant and dullest things to say. I can live people like that, if they didn't cling to me the way she does. So I need to distance myself while still maintaining a "friendly" rapport. – insanity Mar 7 '18 at 3:52
  • But your answer made me ponder the issue deeper. Thanks for the different perspective. :) – insanity Mar 7 '18 at 6:25

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