Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m still not really sure about the very best techniques to try when using a search engine. I have to Google things all the time but tend to wind up with way too many irrelevant results, or I can’t quite find what I’m looking for. What are the little techniques I’m missing when it comes to precise and complete web-searching?” – Sally, Medical Coder

{ 5 comments }

Question: “The whole he/she issue when writing something that doesn’t apply to a named person still confuses me. Some people get irritated when you choose one gender over the other even when you’re just writing about a hypothetical situation, but the phrase ‘he or she’ sounds silly and awkward when it has to be used too often. What’s the best way to get around this problem?” —Eric, Admissions Advisor

{ 9 comments }

Question: “How do I deal with someone who constantly name-drops and only wants to deal and work with upper management? This person will not discuss issues with other employees or ask for their input or concerns, making individuals feel they don’t matter. I understand that things will get done quicker when issues are brought directly to upper management, but blowing right past other employees hurts the work environment. What to do?” – Marianne, Office Manager

{ 5 comments }

Question: “My boss normally gives out little goodie bags to the staff on February 14, but this year he also had us order Valentine’s Day treats for several top clients—tiny teddy bears included! To me, this doesn’t seem appropriate or very dignified. Is there a rule of thumb about how many gifts is too many to offer your customers, when we should and should not give them, and what kind we should always stick with?” – Tara, Executive Assistant

{ 8 comments }

Question: “Our HR department asked our team to write confidentially about ethical or interpersonal ‘tight spots’ we’ve found ourselves in, and how we reacted to them. It got me wondering about the ways that others have worked through no-win situations—because at work, they seem to happen to everyone all the time! Does anyone have any stories about really difficult decisions they’ve had to make as an admin?” – Rachel, Document Archives Registrar

{ 13 comments }

Question: “Help! My company, which sells insurance for small businesses, wants to establish a Twitter feed, and I’m going to be in charge of it. It’s a nice opportunity, but what sorts of messages can I put out there that will generate any attention when what we do isn’t exactly fascinating to most people?”  – Ellen, Assistant Office Manager

{ 6 comments }

Question: “The reports we generate at work look as boring as can be, mostly because no one wants to take the time to spruce them up. What are some very fast, very simple ways to tweak a Word document so its appearance commands attention?” — Lydon, Inventory Manager

{ 7 comments }

Question: “Where I work, the concept of a deadline has become a bit of a joke. We have a deadline for everything, but if one is missed, it’s simply extended until the work gets done. This creates conflicting expectations and aggravation, especially for the admin staff, which is always waiting for the bosses to finish what they need to. What are the best ways to make deadlines respected when we admins don’t really have the power to discipline?” – Jan, Staff Assistant

{ 9 comments }

Question: “I know I’m supposed to send a thank-you email after I go in for a job interview, but I’m not sure of exactly when to send it. An hour afterward? A day? And what exactly does this note need to contain for me to stick in the mind of the person who might hire me?” – Blake, Hospice Coordinator

{ 7 comments }

Question: “I always quietly fix my boss’s grammar errors in print documents, but that doesn’t seem to help his speech much, and he often commits very basic mistakes that make him sound unprofessional. If I dare to correct the way he talks, even in subtle ways, is he likely to take it as a personal judgment and resent me?”  – Caitlin, Grand Island, Ne.

{ 21 comments }

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