I apparently work for people who have managed to achieve adulthood without picking up on basic cues about when someone is busy and not wanting to be interrupted. Most of the time at work, I am very approachable and collaborative, but sometimes I have a deadline I’m trying to meet. On those days, I close and lock my door, turn my back to the doorway, and focus intently on my work. I’m somewhat introverted, so when I am interrupted, it is very jarring and takes me a while to regain my focus. Some very social people in my office, however, will come to my door and knock persistently. When I turn around, they will say they “just wanted to speak” or are “just saying hi,” or they will start in on some personal matter, completely oblivious to the fact that they just interrupted me.
I have tried putting a “do not disturb” sign on my door, but a handful of people will ignore the sign, or they think it is a great joke to vandalize or steal it. I’ve tried ignoring them when they knock, but this is hard because once they knock or call my name, they’ve already broken my concentration and the damage is done, and my boss will sometimes need me for something, and I have to be responsive to her, so I can’t just refuse to turn around.
I don’t want to hurt the relationships I have with the people I work with or become known as the office bitch. On the other hand, I feel like they are putting me in an untenable position, and I am on the verge of snapping at them when they ignore basic workplace courtesy. Also, I think there may be some unconscious sexism at play, because the people interrupting me are all men, and my director and I are the only female managers in our office. Any advice on how to handle this would be appreciated.
—Leave Me Alone