I have a team mate who I work with in a project. In our team, he is the most talkative and treats everyone as his friends, even our Supervisor. One day I found out that he's asking our supervisor to buy an XBox X Series console at a black Friday sale for him, at regular working hours.

Should I tell him to draw a boundary between him and our Supervisor?

Our Supervisor is a very nice man and rarely say anything that upsets or discourages us, he is great at his job and it pains me that a team mate is treating him like this. I don't hate the guy, he's a good person too, I just don't want any of us to trouble our Supervisor.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 18:35

6 Answers 6


"I don't want us to trouble our Supervisor." Your Supervisor can speak up for himself. Could be that the supervisor asked, "what would help team morale? I have a budget from the company for this" and your co-worker said, the x-box. I probably would have asked for a hot mocha latte with whipped cream.

I'd leave it alone.

  • 8
    This is exactly what a friend of mine did, after being asked what would create better employee environment he asked for PS 4, the company bought it for us and we do every so often go down to the playroom and play PS4 (you have to have your ducks in the row of course, no playing when crunching before deadline)
    – mishan
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 12:26
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    36 upvotes here, 1(about to be 2) on the question... Just because you don't agree with the viewpoint of the asker doesn't mean it's not an ideal question for the site. Others thinking the same things can find this later.
    – TCooper
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 17:08
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    This may not even be a company issue. The supervisor may be buying the item using money provided by the co-worker for purely personal reasons.
    – chepner
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 18:15
  • @TCooper - Who said it's not an ideal question for the site? Are you suggesting we have some kind of obligation to upvote an ideal question? Simply not upvoting is very different from downvoting Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:08
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    @TCooper - That said, I will now come out and say this isn't an ideal question because it lacks a lot of important context, as basically every comment points out Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:09

Ask yourself these three questions (context taken from your narrative):

  1. Is being talkative a problem?

    • Are they disturbing you / others from getting their work done?
    • Are they speaking in loud voices?
    • Are they arguing all the time?
    • Are they disrupting the concentration and focus needed for work?
  2. Is being friendly a problem?

    • Are they violating the personal space?
    • Are they bringing out personal issues / topics which are otherwise not acceptable to discuss in a work environment?
    • Are they carrying out any NSFW discussion / activities?
  3. Is asking for a gaming console a problem?

    • Are they pushing for it?
    • Are they asking / suggesting misuse of any funds?
    • Are they holding others to ransom for their demands?
    • Do you know this is not a light-hearted joke? Do you know the context of the discussion?

In my opinion, in your case, all the answers to the main questions are a "no", so overall, you don't need to do anything. If any sub-questions yield an affirmative answer, solve that problem, do not get into the mode of schooling and educating (and moral policing), that's truly uncalled for.

Move on, all of you have got work assignments to be completed. Let all grown people handle their matters themselves.

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    Good answer, i would add to it, that the OP also has no idea the ‘problem’ employees relationship they’ve built with the supervisor outside of work...which could change all context of the situation. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 12:48
  • Even if any or all of those questions would be answered with "yes" I still don't see how "tell the team member off" would be the correct approach in any case.
    – Voo
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 16:06

I feel it is my duty to pose a situational challenge to this question.

You are entirely out of line:

  1. You are paying more attention to your colleagues duties than your own.
  2. You are eavesdropping on office conversations which are none of your business.
  3. You are spending office hours concerning yourself with others' personal matters.
  4. You are exposing your jealousy of team mate relations to the world for your personal gratification.

Need I go on? If your gut response to this answer is that I'm entirely wrong and overstepping my bounds, this is the likely response you will elicit in both your teammate and your supervisor.

  • Literally every one of your 4 points are assumptions: (1) you have no idea how much attention OP is paying to their duties, (2) for all you know OP works in an open plan office where everything is within earshot - in any case OP didn't say they heard anything; they said "I found out", (3) you don't know that this was written in office hours, (4) There are multiple assumptions in this one (OP is jealous? They are exposing it to the world?). I agree with the overall sentiment that OP should mind their own business, but this answer hasn't done a good job of justifying that. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 9:36
  • @JonBentley That's kind of the point... woosh?
    – psaxton
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:11

Is it my responsibility to tell a team member off whom I think is crossing the line


From what you describe here, it's hard to say if your team member's behavior is appropriate or not. For the sake of discussion let's assume that it is. Unfortunately people who behave inappropriately have little of the self-awareness necessary to listen to or take advice.

You could try to have a conversation with your team member, but you certainly don't have a responsibility to do so. You are not the supervisor, and no one expects you to be responsible for how he behaves.

Your team mate will likely learn that his behavior is sub-optimal for a work environment, and if not, then eventually a supervisor will figure that out for him.


While I don't disagree with most of the current answers, I think they all miss the crux of the question's 2 critical points:

  • It's never an employee's responsibility to tell off a coworker.

    • This is management's responsibility.
    • If you take it upon yourself to tell off your coworker, you're opening yourself to potential problems. At a minimum, you've made an enemy, at worst, you've opened yourself to harassment charges, sexual harassment if the coworker is the opposite sex.
  • It's never appropriate to tell off another employee, even if she is your suborndiate - you address a problem area, you don't tell off.

    • "Telling off" a subordinate means you're failing as a manager/supervisor.
    • You should have addressed any problems long before it gets to the "telling off" stage.
    • If, after having addressed things properly, it gets to a "telling off", that should be handled maturely as a pleasant, professional, private dismissal because all other intervention steps have failed.

asking our supervisor to buy an XBox X Series console at a black Friday sale for him, at regular working hours.

I assume you mean, he's asking the supervisor to buy it with company funds, and get it for employees to use. What's wrong with that?

Companies often buy games for employees to use in breakrooms. Game consoles are especially common.

Would your opinion be different if it was something you wanted?

Should I tell him to draw a boundary between him and our Supervisor?

Not unless you're the boss. Doing so would be inappropriate. It's not your responsibility, and you yourself would be crossing a line.

Depending on your relationship with your colleague, you could tell him privately you think it's a little inappropriate, but you can't tell him not to. (However, I don't think it's the right thing to do)

Our Supervisor is a very nice man... pains me that a teammate is treating him like this... he is great at his job

He's the supervisor for a reason. Don't try and do his job for him, dealing with these situations is part of his job, not yours. If he can't say no to an inappropriate request, then he's not good at his job.

It sounds contradictory to say he's good at his job, and at the same time you're doubting his abilities and thinking of stepping in.

(Maybe you like that he's not good at his job because it allows you to take liberties as well)

Really. It pains you! That sounds a little off to me. This kind of thing makes me think you're a bit jealous, and probably think your colleague is getting special treatment for sucking up to everyone... and he probably is.

he is the most talkative and treats everyone as his friends, even our Supervisor.

Sounds like you're trying to disguise contempt as a compliment.

Problem here is, he treats everyone like friends. He is going to get special treatment, and people are probably going to listen to him over you because of it.

IE. I don't think there's anything you should do about this.

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