Be Quiet, HR’s Here

I’m not sure if this happens to anyone else, but it seems that no matter where I work, I always hear “Stop talking, HR’s here” or “You can’t say that, Lori is in the room” or some other inane version of this tripe. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not so uptight that I can’t laugh at myself, but this stuff gets really old really fast. And it’s never been particularly funny.

In fact, there was one time when I was showing a new employee around the office, we came across a group of people who were talking and laughing. When I went to introduce the employee, someone repeated the above referenced statement about HR being present and I lost my temper somewhat. I told the employee no uncertain terms to knock it off as I didn’t appreciate the comment.

This was probably not the best way to handle it, but it truly annoyed me that this was said in front of a new employee. And it was not my intention to break up the fun, but I didn’t see the need for the comment. It felt insulting and alienating.

I’ve now taken to responding to such statements by either singing a first person version of “1921”(“I didn’t see it, never heard it, no not a word of it…”) or by flatly stating, “I’m on my lunch break, do what you want, say what you want. I really don’t care”.

Now, of course that’s absolutely not true (HR is always on duty), but I have to tell you, it does feel really good to say it.

And I always make sure to say it with a smile.

11 Replies to “Be Quiet, HR’s Here”

  1. Do they say it jokingly, or are they serious?

    I get that all the time as well, but it’s less obvious. I walk by and someone in the group just let’s out a quiet “shhhh”. Or someone makes an obviously out of place topic change like, “how about that crazy weather” in a louder than normal voice.

  2. This is one of the few pet peve’s I have about being in HR – its reminiscent of not beinging invited to sit a the “cool table” in the middle school cafeteria.

    Sometimes it feels like there is an implication that we in HR are prudes.

    But I love my job

  3. I get this everywhere I work as well. It’s funny because I don’t play along with it but it never goes away. I’m telling my mom that “ignore them and they will stop” is a load of bunk!

    I’m not the police woman of the workplace. Never have been and never will be. In fact, I make darn sure that my reputation is that of a very down to earth, realistic, realist, business-results oriented HR person. Not a ruler wielding meter maid from hell.

    Oh well. I suppose what really counts is that employees and managers actually DO really trust me and come to me about the important stuff, regardless of the jokes.

  4. Criminy. Lighten up. People are making a joke. It’s not at your personal expense. Clearly you ARE so uptight that you can’t laugh at yourself. And you can’t tell the difference between when they’re laughing at you and when they’re just making a cliche’ joke about corporate authority in general and implicitly acknowledging their own problem of sitting around talking about something off-color.

  5. I know the sudden-shush, and it bothers the heck out of me. I always ask, “What’s the gossip?”

    I address it head on…

    …and most of the time, people will tell me.

  6. Lori – You should submit this excellent post to Rowan at Fortify Your Oasis for the next HR Carnival (I think he wants them in by Monday). :)

  7. Lori –

    I know what you mean. Managers get the same thing, it comes with the territory. And it’s tempting to want to loosen up and join in to fit it, but I think we’re better off taking the high road and being role models. (See 2/07 “for Leaders, There is no Off Switch” post on my site).
    While that may stifle a few idiots, most will respect us for it.


  8. The key here is:

    “Now, of course that’s absolutely not true (HR is always on duty)”

    We all know that. We’ve all run into the grim, humorless commissar who’s waiting to pounce on the inappropriate innuendo. Reporters, cops and HR are always on duty. Any of those three can bring the party to a crashing halt just by showing up.

  9. My HR lady tells people why I left my company (to take care of my mom’s business). I don’t think HR should be able to tell anybody why anyone quits.

    I sit outside her office and she thinks since the door is closed she can tell people whatever.

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