Call Of The Wild

A male co-worker continually touches everyone's food. For example, at an office birthday party, he walks over to the cake, runs his index finger the entire length of the cake where the frosting is really thick, then sticks a big glob of frosting in his mouth.

At another meeting, six cups of Diet Coke are poured and sitting on the table and the person pouring the drinks is waiting for the foam to go down. This man walks over and sticks his finger into all six claiming "it will help the foam go down." At a team lunch in a nice restaurant someone asks him to pass a roll. He reaches in, grabs a roll, and hands it over after cramming the other rolls in his mouth.

People make comments and ask him not to touch the food, to no avail. We're tired of racing to the food before he gets there and paws it.


Ashley, animals, birds, and fish mark their territory. Like miners in a gold rush, they know whoever holds the territory gains the power. Your coworker is trying to establish dominance and control over the team. His actions say, "I rule you guys." Not only are his actions unappetizing, but his unwashed hands spread germs.

His behavior needs to stop, but reasoned discussion isn't getting you anywhere. Why not take a lesson from the animal kingdom and apply it to your problem?
Wolves in a pack are ruled by an alpha male and an alpha female. The alphas dominate the others and enforce rules in their territory. When a challenger wolf appears, the rest of the pack lie back and let an alpha take over. The alpha lets the intruder know in no uncertain terms who owns the territory and has the power.

Your employer is the alpha in your workplace. He or she owns the territory and has the power to enforce the rules. Your co-worker doesn't have the rank or title which allow him to rule over the rest of your group, so he is trying to steal rank by marking the food of the team.

He is violating the food of the "pack" and usurping the power of the alpha. Let your boss know you need protection. Anything that hurts his pack, undermines his authority and hurts his team. That's why the pack loves and respects the alpha, and looks to him or her for protection.

If your rank in the "pack" is not high enough to approach the alpha directly, clip this column and send it to your boss with the intruder's name.

Wayne & Tamara


Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at
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