January 18, 2018

dear sparven - comic sans edition

Dear Sparven,

I don't know what to do!  My co-worker attended a webinar and typed up notes for the rest of our department.  I realize this was a big favor she did for us.  But the notes she typed are completely in Comic Sans!  I don't think it's fair to let my co-worker continue to think that this is acceptable behavior, but I also don't want to ruin our working relationship because we get along really well.  How should I handle telling her?  Should we approach her as a group?  Should I tell her in person?  By e-mail?  I need your advice!

Dismayed in Denver

Dear Dismayed,

Your concerns are not to be underestimated!  The use of Comic Sans in our society is tantamount to employing racial slurs and failing to wash hands after using the restroom.  It ultimately hurts others and simply cannot be tolerated.  No doubt by now your communication with your co-worker is already feeling strained, and you are right:  It is not fair to let her continue day to day oblivious of this faux pas.  Think of the visual and psychological pain you could be saving others in the future.  Think of your moral duty to help her avoid becoming a workplace pariah.

Because you say that the two of you get along well, I would go with an individual approach instead of a group one.  Invite her to lunch and be frank and honest with her about how you felt when you opened the document containing the webinar notes, being careful to maintain eye contact and remain calm.  Communicate compassion for her understandable mistake, implying that she simply did not know what she had done (in spite of the great deal of effort that has gone into educating the public about this issue).  This will give her a "way out" and allow her to correct this behavior going forward while saving face during your conversation.  Hopefully, it will go well, and you will continue to have a good, Comic Sans-free working relationship for years to come.  You have my heartfelt wishes for the best of luck.


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