Q: One of my co-workers constantly brags about his investments. He doesn't discuss salary because it's against company policy. I was raised not...

Q: One of my co-workers constantly brags about his investments. He doesn’t discuss salary because it’s against company policy. I was raised not to discuss money outside the family. How can I get this co-worker to keep his financial matters to himself?

A: If you’d like a co-worker to stop any annoying habit, you’ll have to be willing to do two things:

• Realize there’s no book called, “The Rules for Human Behavior.” We’re all raised in different families with different rules.

• You’ll have the most power to influence your co-worker if you talk about yourself and don’t criticize him by suggesting that he’s crass, tacky and impolite.

Your co-worker clearly was raised in a family where money was a fine topic of conversation. He’s probably oblivious to you or anyone else’s discomfort. In your letter, you suggested a good way to begin your request for change: You could say, “In my family, we didn’t discuss money in public, so I get uncomfortable when you discuss finances. It’s apparent that you’re clever financially; however, I often feel like I’m hearing private information that isn’t my business. I realize many co-workers may benefit from your savvy in this area, and I’ll exit when you talk money with them. I also realize you can’t read my mind and wouldn’t know I’m uncomfortable if I don’t tell you.”

Whenever we’re uncomfortable, it’s easier to be angry at others for violating our “rules” than to take a risk, admit we have “rules” and simply ask for what we want. Most of us don’t like being vulnerable, especially at work, and asking for anything can make us feel weak.

However, the reality is that at work we are dependent on others to help us get our work done.

If you’d like 2007 to be your most productive year ever, make a list of everything anyone at work does that makes you crazy. Now, make a list of the behaviors (not attitudes) you’d like instead. Last, consider asking for these behaviors by making it clear that you have an issue that you need help with and watch your productivity take off!

The last word(s)

Q: I work with a guy who has a violent temper and he scares me. Everyone says I’m overreacting and shouldn’t worry about working late with him in the office. Whom should I trust?

A: Trust your gut.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube