Editor's note: Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.
A reader writes:
We're working on a product redesign, and as part of the process, it's been suggested that the team goes offsite for a week to bang out the details. The entire (co-ed) team is supposed to stay in a remote cabin in the mountains, retreat style, where we have to share bedrooms, bathrooms, and close quarters, as we'd be living, eating, and working in said cabin for the full week.
I hate this. For several reasons, but most of all, right now, I hate it because I'm pregnant. No one wants to share a bedroom with me right now with the amount of times I get up in the middle of the night to pee (TMI, sorry). And also, I don't want to be out in some remote location far away from a hospital in case anything should happen with the pregnancy.
Our other option is to go to a resort, with individual rooms where we would sleep, modern amenities, and meeting rooms for our working sessions as opposed to working in the living room of some cabin.
Everyone seems to like the cabin idea better except me and one other person. I have mentioned my preferences, but everyone is plowing forward with this cabin idea and I'm stressed.
Any thoughts on how to swing the vote in the other direction without being the annoying pregnant person? Am I the only one who thinks this cabin thing is a bad idea?
You are absolutely not alone. There are legions of people who would hate this idea.
"Majority rules" is a fine way to make some decisions (like where to go to lunch or what the theme of the company holiday party will be). But there are some things where it's not reasonable for the majority to rule--where the thing being voted on would be so unpleasant for the minority that it's not reasonable to decide by vote. Spending a week in a remote cabin with your co-workers is one of those.
And that would be true even if you weren't pregnant. But your pregnancy does make it really easy to say a flat-out no to this. You can say it to your team or to your manager, depending on your relationship with each. If you have a pretty reasonable team, I'd shut it down with them. As in: "I'm all for going off-site for a week, but the cabin option isn't doable for me. Being pregnant rules it out for a number of reasons, including that I'm not able to be so far away from a hospital in case of a problem. This isn't about preference; it's about it not being possible. At all."
If that doesn't work, or if you're not comfortable saying it to them, then you say the same thing to your manager.
That's really all it should take. It's a reasonable stance, and it should be understood by even halfway reasonable people.
If, however, you are working with highly unreasonable people who push forward with this plan regardless, then you go back to your manager and say, "How should we handle the off-site since, as I mentioned, I can't currently spend a week in a remote cabin?"
Again, note that this is about "I can't," not "I don't want to."
And this really is the kind of thing where some people will dislike this plan so strongly and for such legitimate reasons that if even one person on your team isn't up for it, they need to find a different option, not go with majority rules.
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