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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:  “One of my employees frequently takes personal calls on his cell phone. I don’t mind calls for important matters or emergencies, but I often hear him chatting with friends or discussing a business that he operates on the side. My main concern is that his job performance is not acceptable. He always seems to be preoccupied with something other than work. I discussed the issue of personal calls at a company-wide meeting, but he still seems to be receiving them. What would be a tactful way to deal with this problem?”  —K.B.
Question:  “One of my employees frequently takes personal calls on his cell phone. I don’t mind calls for important matters or emergencies, but I often hear him chatting with friends or discussing a business that he operates on the side. My main concern is that his job performance is not acceptable. He always seems to be preoccupied with something other than work. I discussed the issue of personal calls at a company-wide meeting, but he still seems to be receiving them. What would be a tactful way to deal with this problem?”  —K.B.
Question: “I work in a small office with a woman who loudly cracks and snaps her chewing gum. This lady is pushing 40 years old, so her behavior seems very unprofessional. The popping noises drive me crazy and make it hard to concentrate. I’ve tried earplugs, but they get in the way when I need to answer the phone or talk to people. I spend my breaks with the gum chewer, so I don’t want to aggravate her.  How do I handle this?”  —Need Some Quiet
Question: “I work in a small office with a woman who loudly cracks and snaps her chewing gum. This lady is pushing 40 years old, so her behavior seems very unprofessional. The popping noises drive me crazy and make it hard to concentrate. I’ve tried earplugs, but they get in the way when I need to answer the phone or talk to people. I spend my breaks with the gum chewer, so I don’t want to aggravate her.  How do I handle this?”  —Need Some Quiet
Question: “I used to have the same salary as my male co-worker 'Chuck,' but I recently learned that he now makes more than I do. I have more work experience, but he gets more face time with our manager. Our boss is frequently in Chuck’s office discussing ordinary issues that everyone encounters. He seems to be her pet. In my area, I try to handle problems myself so as not to trouble her with them. Since we have exactly the same duties, I believe Chuck has been given more money simply because he’s a man. I love my job and don’t want to leave, but I feel this is wrong. What do you think is going on?”  —Sherry
Question: “I used to have the same salary as my male co-worker 'Chuck,' but I recently learned that he now makes more than I do. I have more work experience, but he gets more face time with our manager. Our boss is frequently in Chuck’s office discussing ordinary issues that everyone encounters. He seems to be her pet. In my area, I try to handle problems myself so as not to trouble her with them. Since we have exactly the same duties, I believe Chuck has been given more money simply because he’s a man. I love my job and don’t want to leave, but I feel this is wrong. What do you think is going on?”  —Sherry
Question:  “I am a professional, focused, detail-oriented employee who is often described as a “quiet person”.  Instead of seeing my calm reserve as an asset, my colleagues tend to criticize me for it.  One of my co-workers, who is also a good friend, is very outgoing and frequently outspoken.  Management recently named her the “point person” while our boss is out on medical leave, which means she will be supervising me. In my work, I am much more precise than she is. Also, I have worked here for 11 years, while she has been here only six. This betrayal has made me incredibly angry. I may not be as outgoing, but I am a better worker and have been here longer.  What should I do about this?”  —Betrayed & Bitter
Question:  “I am a professional, focused, detail-oriented employee who is often described as a “quiet person”.  Instead of seeing my calm reserve as an asset, my colleagues tend to criticize me for it.  One of my co-workers, who is also a good friend, is very outgoing and frequently outspoken.  Management recently named her the “point person” while our boss is out on medical leave, which means she will be supervising me. In my work, I am much more precise than she is. Also, I have worked here for 11 years, while she has been here only six. This betrayal has made me incredibly angry. I may not be as outgoing, but I am a better worker and have been here longer.  What should I do about this?”  —Betrayed & Bitter
Question:  “Every day, I have to work with a group of rude and catty women. They call me a tattletale, even though I’m not.  When I’m around, they make whispered remarks to each other.  I tried to fit in by chatting and having lunch with them, but that didn’t work. Now I’ve adopted the attitude of “speak only when spoken to.”  I limit my comments to “good morning” or “how is the weather?” Then I listen to my IPod all day. Although I like my work, I dread going to the office. The tension is taking a toll on me emotionally. Our manager is no help at all, and I can’t move to another position. What should I do?” — Hate My Coworkers
Question:  “Every day, I have to work with a group of rude and catty women. They call me a tattletale, even though I’m not.  When I’m around, they make whispered remarks to each other.  I tried to fit in by chatting and having lunch with them, but that didn’t work. Now I’ve adopted the attitude of “speak only when spoken to.”  I limit my comments to “good morning” or “how is the weather?” Then I listen to my IPod all day. Although I like my work, I dread going to the office. The tension is taking a toll on me emotionally. Our manager is no help at all, and I can’t move to another position. What should I do?” — Hate My Coworkers
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