I have a coworker - let's call her Anne - who believes that saving energy wherever possible is everyone's most important responsibility.
Anne has made that clear from the day that I joined the company and I respect that. In fact, I find it quite honourable.

Anne regularly writes emails to all employees of our company about how important it is to turn off our monitors in the evening.

A large percentage of our small company (including myself) does not really care about turning off the monitors at night, but in order to appease Anne we do it anyway. After all it means very little effort and it's a good deed for the environment (however small).
I have already calculated how much energy is saved by off-mode instead of standby-mode, and it actually is a ridiculously small amount (< 0.3 kWh per year). Although she knows that, her argument is that if everybody leaves it on standby then it sums up.

My Problem:
Every other day I forget to turn off my monitor, so it goes into standby mode.
On each of these occasions there was a post-it on my monitor that reminded me to always turn it off and not in a very polite way. I have already told her that I'm sorry if I sometimes forget it, and that I'm trying.
She however does not understand how one can forget such an 'important' thing.

Yesterday I once again forgot my monitor in the evening, only to come in today and find that the power cable to my monitor was unplugged. Even after plugging it in again, it did not recognize the connection to the PC. So I tried to reconfigure it for about 5 minutes. In the end it only worked after I un- and replugged the VGA cable to the PC (which with my workstation-setup was a cumbersome task).

I don't think that Anne's reaction was appropriate and I would like to talk to her about our little conflict.
But I know that it will only escalate into an argument because she will not hear any of my excuses, and everyone should follow her views on saving energy. I base this on some other arguments with her involved that I witnessed.

How do I make it clear to her that she overreacted and that I don't want her to mess with my workstation ever again?

My Goals:

  • Anne should stop messing with my workstation. (Edit: I don't mind if Anne just turns off my monitor, but she is not happy with that ("I'm not your handmaid!").)
  • No escalation (I do not think our bosses should be involved, nor do I want a big discussion/argument about it)

Bonus Points for:

  • Anne accepting that I sometimes leave my monitor in standby mode and not reciprocating with passive-aggressive notes or angry comments each time I forget my monitor in the evening.

Sidenote: I have not asked Anne yet if it was her who unplugged my monitor. Theoretically it could have been someone else, but I really doubt it since nobody else here has such strong opinions on saving energy. I do know it was her who wrote the post-it notes.
Edit: I found out from another colleague that it was indeed her. I have not addressed this issue with Anne yet, nor has she made a comment about it to me.

  • 28
    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 10:00
  • 14
    Another PSA: Please remember that answers must focus on the Interpersonal Skills aspect of the question. There are a couple deleted answers now suggesting devices to automatically switch off the monitors - we're looking for IPS solutions here, not technical ones. See this meta post for more info.
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 22:31
  • 21
    Seriously, y'all... the answer and joke comments need to stop. We've deleted nearly 80 comments from this question talking about wasting paper, Anne being overbearing, and how infinitesimal the amount of power being wasted is. It's been said already and deleted. Stop it. If your comment is not asking for clarification, say it to yourself and move along.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 5:48

17 Answers 17


Anne is clearly a fervent believer in saving power. In fact, one might go far enough as to call her a fanatic based on your description.

And your mistake has been making concessions, and validating her attitude by apologizing for small, everyday things. Now she feels that she is entitled, and morally "in the right" to leave you strongly worded messages, and pull passive aggressive stunts like unplugging your monitor.

Since you've failed to set boundaries before, it will be doubly difficult to do so now. The good news, however, is that it is possible.

Have an honest talk with her and say that although you respect her opinions, and her position on the matter, the issue of powering the monitors off at the end of the day is not one that weighs heavily on your soul. Clarify that you've been willing to make some concessions because it clearly means so much to her, but that her actions have been making you uncomfortable.

Elaborate, and specifically state that she's crossing a line when she leaves passive aggressive notes on people's desks, and most certainly should not be unplugging people's equipment.

Be polite, and firm, and most importantly leave no room for debate. If she tries to argue that what you're doing is wrong, etc. reiterate that although you understand her opinion, and respect that she turns off her own monitors every day, you do not feel as strongly about the issue, and will make your own decisions regarding your workstation.

If she leaves you more sticky notes, remove them and bring them to her desk. You don't need to say anything, although you may wish to reiterate your position. If you feel that things are getting worse, you may also wish to document these instances (take a picture, and keep track of the dates this happened), and eventually go to management about it. This, however, is the nuclear option, as it were.

  • 8
    I also wanted to mention that although this is not the most upvoted answer I went with your one because you explained better how the actual conversation should look like and how I can react to her possible responses. I just had the talk with Anne and it went great. No bonus points though :P (She still absolutely wants me to turn off my monitor and will keep reminding me about it, but now verbally)
    – kscherrer
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 7:13

I've been searching for an answer speaking to compromise and I haven't found one I like enough, so here are my two cents.

Anne is definitely passionate about her cause, but I think there is still room for you to attempt to talk to her. If I were in your shoes, I'd start by acknowledging the action that caused her outburst:

"Hey Anne, I know that I forget to turn my monitor off sometimes."

Then, state the consequences of the outburst:

"However, the last time I did this my monitor was completely unplugged the next morning. While this solved the power issue, I had to completely reconfigure my workstation in the morning to get it functional again, and I can't afford to do this every time I forget to turn off my monitor."

Then, lead into a compromise by stating the goals for both parties:

"I'd like to get better about turning off my monitor, but I also want to make sure I'm not wasting my mornings configuring my workstation."

This next sentence is where you'll want to give her a job to do. When she does see your monitor still on, what would you rather she do instead of acting immaturely? Most monitors I've worked with have power buttons on the face, so personally I'd say:

"If I forget again, can you please just turn it off via the power button instead of unplugging it?"

If she begins to fight over this, I'd say:

"I understand the desire to be power conscious, but (your manager's name) is going to be more angry about me not getting my work done than about my monitor being on all night."

You're not directly threatening to speak to higher powers, but you're kind of saying "it sure would be a shame if my manager found out about our disagreement..."

I'd also consider making an effort on your end to help soothe things. If you leave at the same time every day, consider setting a reminder on your calendar to turn off your monitors before you leave. Even if Anne has done something unreasonable, try to understand that it's something she's just that passionate about, and meet her halfway. Ignoring her and not improving sends the message that you just don't care about the things she's so passionate about - and while maybe you don't, you can't expect someone to want to get along with you if you don't try to get along with them!

After all, part of being in any environment where we all live for 40+ hours a week is to meet each other where we can to get along.

If you do choose to include a compromise statement, such as the reminder, try to put it in right before you make your request from Anne:

"I'm going to set a reminder on my calendar to turn it off before I leave, but if I forget again, can you please (whatever action you wish her to perform instead of unplugging your monitor)"?


Confront her directly the next time you see her:

Anne, don't touch my monitor ever again.

If she's in a conversation with someone else (not a client), interrupt it. Show how angry you are. It's perfectly fine for you to demand she does not touch and/or break the things you need to work with.

Don't go into a discussion. Don't get dragged into a negotiation. You have a perfectly fine demand. If she tries to drag you into a drawn out discussion or negotiation repeat: "Don't touch my monitor."

Also tackle her before she can go over your head, write a small factual email to your manager, with an emphasis on the facts, no fluff: "Anne unplugged my monitor, it cost my x-amount of time to get it up, I told her to not touch my monitor again."

You have all right to be angry with her. She is not your manager, she is not the person to discipline you.

Make very sure in all these conversations that's it's about her unplugging your monitor. Do not under any circumstances let her action become "your fault" because you didn't turn of your monitor. That's another discussion. There is no excuse at all for her to sabotage the equipment you need to work with.

Edit: If her answer is: "or what?" don't answer that question, just walk away. Next time she does it, report her. You warned her, your manager is in the loop. It's on her. I don't like "or what games".

  • 9
    OP's goals: "No escalation (I do not think our bosses should be involved, nor do I want a big discussion/argument about it)"
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 14:13
  • 2
    @EmC you can leave out the little memo to your boss. It's just a little CYA for when she decides to ignore your command and decides to escalate things. Be very clear here; it's perfectly normal to tell people to not touch your stuff, that's in no way escalating thing. By doing it like this, she is the escalating party, not the OP. It's stupid it even got so far that you need to tell someone to not touch your stuff. She escalated already, and if she escalates further you may need to bring in outside backup (your manager).
    – Pieter B
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 17:50

Get straight to the point:

Anne, we need to talk about you switching off my monitor.

Reassure her that you do care about the environment and the company's energy bills.

I want you to know that I agree with you about saving energy. Wasting energy is bad for the environment and it is bad for the company. I try my best to remember to turn my monitor off.

Then give her the facts:

But I have to say, I think your reaction to my sometimes forgetting is actually counter productive. The cost of leaving my monitor on standby for a full year is going to cost the company about £1.14*. But this morning it took me five minutes to get my monitor working again because someone pulled the plug, and 5 minutes of my time is worth £1.25** to the company. So whoever pulled the plug on my monitor has already cost the company more in one day than they have saved all year.

*That's my estimate in my currency. Work it out before you go in

** Quote one twelfth of your own hourly rate. If it is less than the previous figure then instead say that if it happens again it will cost the company more.

Finish off by saying:

I'm sure the directors/owners/managers would see the argument in terms of cost.

Boom! But end on a positive note:

I will make a concerted effort to turn off my monitor every night if you can assure me that my monitor will be left alone if I forget and I don't come in to any more of your notes. Thanks.


Although she knows that, her argument is that if everybody leaves it on standby then it sums up.

There's an SNL skit about a bank that does nothing but provide change. Their explanation for how they can make money this way: volume. The point of the joke is that this doesn't make sense: an unprofitable policy is an unprofitable policy. Scaling it up just makes it even more unprofitable. If the money saved by one person is significantly less than the hassle that that person experiences, then having everyone do this just means that the total hassle exceeds the total money saved by an even larger amount.

Every other day I forget to turn off my monitor, so it goes into standby mode. On each of these occasions there was a post-it on my monitor that reminded me to always turn it off and not in a very polite way. I have already told her that I'm sorry if I sometimes forget it, and that I'm trying.

You mentioned that Anne had gotten the company to endorse her position that people should turn off their monitors, but you don't mention exactly the phrasing. I would guess that it's more along the lines of "It would be good for people to turn off their monitors", than "Everyone should turn off their monitors, and anyone who notices that others aren't doing so are welcome to become self-appointed monitor nags". I could be wrong about that, and if so you'll have to adjust my answer to compensate.

You should not apologize for forgetting to turn off your monitor. You are not making a deliberate choice to not turn off your monitor, and it's of such extremely low priority that it is not worth worrying about when you forget. Merely making an effort to remember, and generally doing so, is well within sufficient consideration of the matter. And even if it weren't, it's not Anne's place to complain.

My suggestion of what to say to Anne:

Anne, I realize that turning off monitors is important to you. You are welcome to that opinion, but it is inappropriate to try to impose that opinion on others. Whether or not I turn off my monitor is between me and the company, and your behavior is creating a hostile work environment. Any issue you have with energy usage should be addressed to the company. I do not wish for you to make any further comments to me regarding my monitor, and failing to respect this wish going forward constitutes harassment. Furthermore, interfering with my equipment is a serious violation both against the company and me personally.

If she tries to argue, just state "I have made my position clear, and there is no need to discuss the issue further. If you have a problem with the situation, you should discuss it with management. Any further discussion of it with me is inappropriate."


Talk to her about this in terms of the things that are important to her: power saving. Apologise for your forgetfulness, but point out that her "remedies" are actually counterproductive.

I don't know how much energy it takes to manufacture, package and distribute a post-it note. But given the low energy overhead of the monitor, it's likely she's used up a similar amount of energy by writing and sticking the note.

Similarly, if your hardware requires recalibration when you have to re-plug an unplugged monitor, it's using energy. Given that this is using actual processor cycles, it's probably using a similar amount of energy as leaving the monitor in stand-by mode.


Tell her that unplugging and replugging (or switching on and off) of equipment will actually shorten the lifespan of that equipment, and that the energy expenditure for making a new monitor to replace a broken one is actually significant.

There is even some technical truth to that with some categories of equipment - usually not with devices like consumer computer monitors, but you don't have to tell her that little detail.

  • 2
    Can you please explain exactly why you think that this is a good idea? Why do you say to take this course of action? What’s the thought process behind this answer? As this currently stands, this is essentially a “Try this!” answer, which are not considered to conform to our quality standards on Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 19:40
  • It is a possible course of action in case reasoning with the opponent fails, and you still want the problem solved. Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 21:02
  • @rackandboneman You might wanna add that information in your answer as well.
    – A J
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 4:39
  • As far as whether it's applicable to computer monitors - roughly 50% of the monitors I've had die on me died during a power on event. Admittedly, most of those were CRT monitors.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 2:09

She is right; not turning off your monitor does use up electricity. But it's too small an amount of electricity to make a big deal of it, and it's not her job to enforce this in any case.

I gather you are not the only one Anne targets. Ask around, find out who else she has reminded/annoyed and how they feel about it, and gather up those who are willing to go in a group to Anne's desk and let her know how you feel.

Decide on a policy; then announce said policy to her. You are not there to negotiate; you are there to tell her how it's going to be from now on.

My recommendation for a policy: yes, not turning off my monitor uses up electricity, yes, it is wasteful, but no, it's not a big enough deal to worry about if I leave in the evening without turning it off. I'll simply try to do better the next day, and I'd feel better if you weren't the monitor enforcer. Specifically, please do not mention power use again, and and never, ever, unplug my monitor.

Having said so, leave, and don't get into a debate. There's no point in discussing anything; the issue is not who has the better idea, it's that it's your monitor and she should not touch or mention it.

Don't mention escalation. But do keep a log, and if the situation doesn't resolve, first suggest that you may have to escalate, and if it still doesn't resolve, do so.


Why are you the one who should plug that power cable back in?

When you arrive at your desk and the power cable is plugged out, just call somebody from tech support, and say that yesterday everything was working fine, you arrive in the morning and you don't see anything on your screen anymore.

Tech support will have a look, mention to you that the power cable has been plugged out, to which you reply "Oh? That's weird. I'm certainly not the one who has done that! Can you plug it back in and verify if everything is still working fine?"

At that moment tech support will need to do the whole configuration again (just as you described), and when it happens again, you can do the same thing.

Soon enough, tech support will get nervous by this whole situation (especially when you're not the only one in that case), you just keep playing innocent (you are innocent, it's not you who is plugging out the cable), and tech support will solve this situation for you, either by confronting Anne directly, or by informing the management.

Most probably, management will tell Anne something like "Look Anne, thank you for caring for the environment, but your actions are hindering the business and even might be considered as harassment (after all you are messing with co-workers' equipment in their absence), so I really need to you to stop plugging out cables of your co-workers' computers. Thank you!"

Like this, the situation is solved and Anne won't have any reason to get to you.

  • 4
    Heh, while I appreciate the principle you're going for, tech support is probably going to think you're a bit silly, and you don't really want that. Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 18:50

A lot of the answers are submitting to Anne's fanatical ideals, and that is the wrong approach to take, even if you want to avoid a confrontation.

At this point, Anne has turned from a concerned person to a bully, and needs to be treated like any bully, or it will become worse.

Peter B has the right hunch, but the wrong approach. You do not want a confrontation, so you need to do the first step first: Draw a line.

E-Mail Anne. Do not talk to her in person. The reason you want to e-mail is that it leaves you with a paper trail in case this escalates. You don't want it to escalate, but you should be ready in case it does.

Write your e-mail following the principles of non-violent communication (observation - feelings - needs - request). Something to the effect of: "Anne, I noticed you unplugged my monitor. This made me waste time in the morning and bothered me. I want my workplace to be my domain, not to be messed with. Please do not manipulate my equipment again."

Bullies need clear lines, without ambiguity. That also means that if she does it again, you have to escalate, by digging up that e-mail, forwarding it to her with your boss in CC and telling her that you asked her clearly to leave your equipment alone, her actions are wasting time and nerves and you are CC'ing the boss to make sure that she understands you will not let her mess up your workplace.

If she follows up your e-mail with a personal conversation, repeat your points, explain them if she has questions, but do not let her change the content of the conversation. If she brings up anything outside your points, no matter what, immediately return the conversation to your four points. E. g. if she starts talking about the environment and wasted electricity, answer something like "Irrespective of that, I want my workplace not to be messed with."

If you feel that you are losing control of the conversation, break it off. You are there to work, not to have discussions with fanatics. "I have work to do. Please leave my workplace alone in the future, no matter what."

This might turn into a confrontation, but you are doing everything to not escalate. The fine line in dealing with bullies is to stand your ground and avoid their invitations for escalation.


Let's calculate...

You are leaving the screen in stad-by wasting approximately 1 Wh per day accident.

Anne unplugging your screen causes you to:

  1. Identify the problem with computer on. Estimate it as power consumption times the time wasted, say 400W * 0.1h when you wasted 6 minutes. That means 40Wh wasted.
  2. Work extra to compensate the time under the desk. That means extra consumption for lights and if you are using air-conditioning it has to compensate your body heat as well. Using same formula we can estimate the wasted enargy to be (100W+100W)* 0.1h that means 20Wh.

Summing this up, Annie is saving 1Wh per accident but accidentaly wasting 60Wh per accident (Actual numbers may vary).

I am willingfully ignoring the ammount of energy I, and all the authors of other questions) had to invest in the answer (power consumed by my computer while writing this and heat prodiced by my brain thinking about it) and the energy you have invested to writing this question.

I am also ignoring the fact, that people usually dissipate more energy when angry. And messing with someone's computer usualy make people angry.

If she gets the idea, that turning screen off saves negligible ammounts of energy, but it can sum up to high numbers, she shall accept argument that not turning screen off and her inappropriately aggresive unpluging she screen wastes unnegligible ammounts of energy and it can sum um to even higher numbers!

Do not blame her for unplugging the screen. Blame some anonymous Joker and state that you don't care about the prank. You allready accepted to care about the environment, but you sometimes forget to turn the screen off though. Share your concerns about the consequences of Jokers pranks and ask Annie to help you with solving it.

If you regularly find the screen unplugged, call in your IT department to have it tracked and report to your manager that somebody is regularly messing with your computer.


I think there is a need for more (imaginative) suggestions about what to do.

Approach #1 - direct, but professional confrontation. Not the most imaginative, but such a good option that I had to include it.

"Anne, did you unplug my monitor (last week)?"

If she answers no, then I personally would fall back to Approach #3. "Hmmm, must have been a rat or something. I'll have to deal with it." Then deal with it.

If she answers yes, then calmly explain the situation: "It's unprofessional and unacceptable for you to mess with my workstation; don't do that again." To pretty much anything she says, repeat "It's unprofessional and unacceptable for you to mess with my workstation; don't do that again." To pretty much anything she says to that, just walk away. Conversations can be ended by either party, and everything that needed to be said was said.

Approach #2 - light the world. Works best if people have a sense of humor.

Bring in a small reading lamp, and use the passive-aggressive notes as a lampshade or as a decoration on the main stand. Turn the lamp on if you actually want to or if your desk was messed with the previous day. If she then messes with the lamp, then that would reveal that the situation is beyond what can be handled privately. You'll have to escalate, sorry.

Approach #3 - blame the dog (or rat). It's not the greatest idea, but it's also one of the best options for avoiding a direct confrontation.

It is clear that some small creature must have somehow unplugged your monitor, since nobody at your company would be so unprofessional as to interfere with somebody else's equipment. If you are responsible for your equipment, then place (tape?) a very small mousetrap near the plug, thoroughly clean your entire desk, and seal or remove any unsealed food/drinks. If you are not directly responsible for your equipment, then have a quick chat with the guy/girl who is and say that although you figure it might not be anything at all, you want to be proactive. If they aren't cool with a mousetrap on the back of your monitor (being vague about the details initially may help smooth this out), then you can skip that part.

Now, since you have some idea (nearly 100% certainty, but let's not be hasty) that Anne may attempt to unplug your monitor and you don't want to cause harm, you should make sure to remind her of your concerns about small creatures and inform her of your solution. This won't deal with the notes, but it should deal with the unplugging.

  • 4
    The mousetrap idea sounds like fun, as long as you don't set the trap! I wouldn't stop with just a trap, though. Get a toy mouse or rat and put it in the trap as if it had been caught, and stick it right next to the power outlet where it would be hard to avoid touching it. Don't explain it, just do it. OTOH, I fear that "Anne" may not have much of a sense of humor, so the joke could backfire badly... Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 0:17
  • 3
    I think there is a lot to be said for your first solution, but ~2 and ~3 seem petty and vindictive. Aren't interpersonal solutions supposed to be about improving relations with other people rather than ridiculing and humiliating them?
    – user9837
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 11:51
  • 1
    No, my goals are (paraphrasing) Anne should stop messing with my workstation. I do not think our bosses should be involved, nor do I want a big discussion about it, and Anne not reciprocating with passive-aggressive notes or angry comments each time I forget my monitor in the evening.
    – Jeutnarg
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 13:49
  • 4
    +1, I found your idea with the mouse trap quite funny. And when I first asked if it was her who unplugged my monitor and she said no, smiling, I said Hmmm, must have been a rat or something. I'll have to deal with it. in that exact wording. She actually chuckled a bit and 'confessed' that it was indeed her. If she wouldn't have confessed I would have bought one or two mousetraps to put on my desk just for the lulz.
    – kscherrer
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 15:37

There are a lot of ways to begin the conversation, and I think that's been pretty well covered. You need to let Anne know how her actions are annoying people, but that conversation will be far more effective if you can also acknowledge that she cares a lot about energy conservation, and apparently, monitors in standby in particular. This makes you a person trying to help her accomplish her goals, rather than someone trying to shut her down.

And the best way you can do that is to offer a solution. Fortunately, this particular problem has an ideal solution.

There are "smart" plug-strips which monitor power to one of the plugs, then have a relay which shuts off power to the others when the primary plug isn't being used. So, the computer tower goes in that primary plug, and the monitors (and any other peripherals) go in those secondary plugs.

I have one of these on my desk: even off (not just standby, but off) my monitors draw about 3W. If my math is right that's about $3.41 USD per year which isn't really much, but it's something. I have the plugstrip because I have additional peripherals which are worse, so for me it's a net financial gain over a year, but Anne doesn't need to know that.

So roughly, I'd approach it like this:

Hey Anne, I've noticed you care a lot about the energy used by monitors in standby. I know sometimes I forget to turn mine off. It can be hard to remember, sorry. Check out these plugstrips. They'd mean people won't forget, and that would be less frustrating for everyone.

Keep in mind, Anne is probably frustrated that she can't convince everyone to turn off monitors. So presenting the solution first, and then suggesting how it's less frustrating for everyone, both hints at your concern (Anne is really making you angry with her behavior) while phrasing it as a solution to hers (people aren't turning off their monitors, despite repeated reminders). Done right, this makes you an ally instead of an enemy.

Of course now her problem is convincing management to buy a $20 plugstrip for each desk to save $3.41 per year, but maybe Anne will leave you alone now, and perhaps respect you a little more.


After you do AndreiROM's answer, with Randolph Carter's answer in mind, continue to do your work.

If/when it becomes a problem again, take it up with your boss. From the comments, it sounds like she is not in a position of power within your company to make decisions on how equipment is to be left at the end of the day. Since it has been a minor issue previously, now a matter of of lost productivity (due to computer issues), using/wasting company post-it notes, and more lost productivity (talking to her and now your boss), it's become something that your boss should look into.

It's minor, when it comes down to it, but it is still affecting your working relationships, which can become serious fairly quickly if not addressed.

Remembering what others said about it being a contention of power/"religious conviction", it may blow up. That can be a good thing in the long run, however. She may decide that her views aren't shared by the company and decide to leave. Or, she may back off and become more reasonable about it. You won't know until it happens.

Either way, you've at least tried to do something about it and aren't waging a silent war. Hopefully you feel a little better about speaking your mind at that point. If it gets too annoying, consider moving desks or finding a new job. Minor annoyances over a long period of time can cause major drawbacks.


If you want a very non-confrontational compromise, you could suggest something like a "swear jar" where you put in some small amount every time you forget to turn off your monitor, and donate that money to an environmental organization at the end of each year. Discuss this with Anne and say something along the lines of "I know I am forgetful, I am trying to get better. Please don't unplug my monitor and if I forget the next morning I will put in 10 cents into the jar".

The reason I suggest this is because it doesn't sound like you are comfortable being confrontational and saying "Don't touch my stuff or I will escalate to HR", or remembering to turn off your monitors 100% of the time. Since either those are simple solutions you would have just done already. My solution is non-confrontational since it is offering a compromise to the other party, and allows some leeway for you to forget once in a while. Also, if you are in the States "swear jars" are a common and relatively well known analogue, so such a suggestion is not strange.

Basically it sounds like Anne wants you to get punished for misbehaving (hence messing with your personal stuff) you can redirect the punishment to something that is less of a hassle for you, but keeps Anne happy.


Tell her you live by the golden rule: do unto others. If you come in, again, to find your monitor unplugged, she will find the same done to hers. This is YOUR SPACE. Just as she would not be welcome to walk into your home and turn every thing off she feels isn't necessary, she is not welcome into your cubicle/office/closet work space to turn off items. Maybe once one person stands up to the office bully, others will find the gumption to do the same. She thinks it's her right because you've all let her be this way. Your office is at much fault for the situation as she is.

  • 1
    Hey, OP specifically said that they don't want the conflict to escalate. With your solution, I'm afraid that the conflict will be terribly escalated. Can you add details as to why this won't be the case?
    – Ael
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 11:54

You want her to stop, and you don't want arguments. At least no arguments that show you as argumentative.

So you say: "Anne, someone turned my monitor off to save energy, and I suspect it was you. That was a major annoyance. I don't want this to happen again. So tomorrow, when I go to work, I will turn on all the lights at my home before I leave. And I will do the same thing every day someone touches my monitor".

So what is she going to do? Turning off your monitor will lead to 100 times more energy wasted the next day at your home, and she can't do anything about that. You refuse any discussions. Complaining only makes her look like a fool, since it's just your private business what you do with your lights at home.

And obviously you don't actually turn on the lights, that would be bad for the environment.

PS. Some people think this is "picking a fight". Not at all. Because there is nothing whatsoever that Anne can do. I'm not doing anything in the workplace she can complain about. And I would recommend that she shouldn't do anything that I can complain about. I don't care if she's angry. She's behaving irrationally, and that gives her power. I take that power away.


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