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Your Office Coach

Each Wednesday, nationally syndicated workplace columnist Marie G. McIntyre, Ph. D., answers your “in the trenches” workplace questions on everything from team-building to getting a raise to dealing with difficult people.

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Question: "There is a new woman in our office who has started to copy everything I do. She tries to dress like me, look like me, and act like me. After complimenting my clothes, she asked where I bought them. A few days later, she showed up in a duplicate outfit. She looked in my purse to find my make-up, then went out and bought all the same brands. Today was the last straw. I had an apple for a snack yesterday afternoon, so this morning my coworker showed up with apples. She never brought apples before. I am getting so irritated that I can’t stand to be around this woman.  What can I do about this?"  —Don’t Need a Clone
Question:  "I’m not sure how to handle a new employee whose religious beliefs prevent her from acknowledging Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, or birthdays. In our small business, the owners have always encouraged us to celebrate these holidays. This employee won’t attend our office Christmas party, but she accepts the Christmas card that contains her annual bonus. She doesn't recognize Easter or Valentine’s, but she eats the candy that the owners give us. She leaves the room when we celebrate birthdays, then later goes back to get a piece of cake. This behavior upsets her coworkers, who are starting to act very resentful towards her. They feel that she’s being hypocritical and that if she’s not going to celebrate, she should refuse the gifts and treats. The employee says that when she was hired, she told the owners she would not be able to participate in holiday celebrations. But now the rest of us feel really down, because we are having to change for her."  — Nan
Question:  “For two years, I have been verbally abused and mistreated by a co-worker.  Her words and actions are more painful than being slapped in the face. This has lowered my self-esteem and left me emotionally scarred. I confronted this woman to find out why she hates me, but she won’t even discuss it. My supervisor says the problem will go away if I ignore it, but that hasn’t helped. I have also spoken to human resources, my pastor, and a therapist. Everyone says I should just leave, but this is the best job I’ve had in 25 years, and I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of pushing me out.  Do you have any suggestions?”  —Down & Depressed
Question: “Because I used to work in human resources, co-workers often come to me to vent. Now my manager says someone has complained about the amount of time that people spend chatting in my office. He said that he doesn't blame me for this and that it isn’t hurting my work. However, he has asked me to start telling people 'my boss wants us to stop chatting.'  I don’t feel that it’s my place to deliver this message, especially since my job performance isn’t suffering. Shouldn’t the other managers tell their employees to talk less?” —Not My Fault
Question: “In addition to doing annual employee reviews, our company requires employees to provide a review of their boss. Since my current manager took over our department a year ago, she has created a very negative environment for everyone. My manager’s boss recently sent me an email asking for feedback about her, and I don’t know what to do. Is there a correct way to give your boss a bad review?” — Afraid to Speak Up
Question: “In addition to doing annual employee reviews, our company requires employees to provide a review of their boss. Since my current manager took over our department a year ago, she has created a very negative environment for everyone. My manager’s boss recently sent me an email asking for feedback about her, and I don’t know what to do. Is there a correct way to give your boss a bad review?” — Afraid to Speak Up
Question: “I have a small sales agency with only two employees. Both have been with me for more than ten years.  Last week, I learned that our agency had qualified for a substantial bonus, which I decided to share with the staff.  As they left on Friday, I gave each one a check worth about three months’ pay. I was disappointed when neither one called over the weekend to thank me.  Do I have a right to feel hurt or am I taking this too personally?"  —Ignored Manager
Question: “I have a small sales agency with only two employees. Both have been with me for more than ten years.  Last week, I learned that our agency had qualified for a substantial bonus, which I decided to share with the staff.  As they left on Friday, I gave each one a check worth about three months’ pay. I was disappointed when neither one called over the weekend to thank me.  Do I have a right to feel hurt or am I taking this too personally?"  —Ignored Manager
Question:  “When I was turned down for a job recently, I was told that another applicant was more qualified. I feel that I was perfect for the position and I don’t see how anyone could have better qualifications. Is it acceptable to ask why I was 'not qualified'”?  — Puzzled Applicant
Question:  “When I was turned down for a job recently, I was told that another applicant was more qualified. I feel that I was perfect for the position and I don’t see how anyone could have better qualifications. Is it acceptable to ask why I was 'not qualified'”?  — Puzzled Applicant
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