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Alice Bumgarner, Moderator

Question: “I’m new at my job and love my position and the people I work for. The problem is my co-worker, who sits next to me. She is making it obvious she just does not like me. At first I thought she was quiet, so I tried to engage her in small talk.  She would respond in very short sentences.  When I ask for help she says she doesn’t know or pretends she doesn’t hear, though she sits only four feet away! She goes days with out speaking to me, unless absolutely necessary. With other employees she laughs, jokes, helps them out and is kind to them.  Why does she treat me so differently? I have tried to be kind and professional and she acts like I am not even here. Please help.” —Anonymous

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Question: “I’m new at my job and love my position and the people I work for. The problem is my co-worker, who sits next to me. She is making it obvious she just does not like me. At first I thought she was quiet, so I tried to engage her in small talk.  She would respond in very short sentences.  When I ask for help she says she doesn’t know or pretends she doesn’t hear, though she sits only four feet away! She goes days with out speaking to me, unless absolutely necessary. With other employees she laughs, jokes, helps them out and is kind to them.  Why does she treat me so differently? I have tried to be kind and professional and she acts like I am not even here. Please help.” —Anonymous

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Question: “I am an administrative assistant with my own office, which is also the entrance to the building. My co-workers are all in the building next door and share one room.  Only my boss and I work in this building. Occasionally, my co-workers (and even contractors!) will come behind my desk. I feel this is overstepping and invading my personal space. I don’t walk up to their desks and take their pens and pencils or begin reading their paperwork. How do I stop this? They don’t dare do this to my boss; why do they think it is OK to do this to me?” — Christine

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Question: “I am an administrative assistant with my own office, which is also the entrance to the building. My co-workers are all in the building next door and share one room.  Only my boss and I work in this building. Occasionally, my co-workers (and even contractors!) will come behind my desk. I feel this is overstepping and invading my personal space. I don’t walk up to their desks and take their pens and pencils or begin reading their paperwork. How do I stop this? They don’t dare do this to my boss; why do they think it is OK to do this to me?” — Christine

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Question: “I work in an office where we don’t have clients come in, but do have many visitors who meet with my boss. My boss switched the soft rock overhead music to what he calls classical. It is ballad symphony music and literally either puts me to sleep or makes me irritated. The soft rock music made for a pleasant work environment and was not inappropriate. We can’t even listen to our own iPod music devices. Should I make a big fuss over this or just let it go and deal?” —Laura

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Question: “I work in an office where we don’t have clients come in, but do have many visitors who meet with my boss. My boss switched the soft rock overhead music to what he calls classical. It is ballad symphony music and literally either puts me to sleep or makes me irritated. The soft rock music made for a pleasant work environment and was not inappropriate. We can’t even listen to our own iPod music devices. Should I make a big fuss over this or just let it go and deal?” —Laura

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Question: “My company gives awards (bonus checks) to employees who have worked 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. In the past we’ve gone from inviting the entire company to an annual dinner where those being honored were presented their checks to only the honorees and their supervisors attending the dinner.  This year, we’re considering cutting back even more.  I’d like to learn how other companies honor their long standing employees. Thanks!” —Terri Vanias

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Question: “My company gives awards (bonus checks) to employees who have worked 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. In the past we’ve gone from inviting the entire company to an annual dinner where those being honored were presented their checks to only the honorees and their supervisors attending the dinner.  This year, we’re considering cutting back even more.  I’d like to learn how other companies honor their long standing employees. Thanks!” —Terri Vanias

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Question: “I am a receptionist at a large, very busy long-term care facility. I was disciplined for a mistake I made. I owned up to the mistake and that is not my issue. My issue is that my supervisor did the write-up, at my desk, while the phones were ringing, residents were asking questions and other staff were waiting for their paychecks. The HR director also came out and stood next to my desk while this was going on, I suppose in an attempt to make it seem like this was done properly, but it most certainly was not. I know nothing can be done after the fact, but I needed to vent. Can you offer me some professional feedback and advice?” — Gwen

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Question: “I am a receptionist at a large, very busy long-term care facility. I was disciplined for a mistake I made. I owned up to the mistake and that is not my issue. My issue is that my supervisor did the write-up, at my desk, while the phones were ringing, residents were asking questions and other staff were waiting for their paychecks. The HR director also came out and stood next to my desk while this was going on, I suppose in an attempt to make it seem like this was done properly, but it most certainly was not. I know nothing can be done after the fact, but I needed to vent. Can you offer me some professional feedback and advice?” — Gwen

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Question: “I have been in my executive assistant position for six months. I have seven years’ experience as an admin and am extremely organized. One of my priorities is to get my boss’s office organized. She does not have a system; there are papers all over the desk, in boxes and in drawers. She is very hands-on and wants access to her files, so they must stay in her office. How do I start the process of weeding through and finding homes for everything?  She is always multitasking and there is never enough uninterrupted time to sit down with her to get organized. Because I am fairly new, I don’t yet have a full understanding of which files can be stored or purged, so she has to assist me in this process. Any suggestions?”   —Anonymous

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Question: “I have been in my executive assistant position for six months. I have seven years’ experience as an admin and am extremely organized. One of my priorities is to get my boss’s office organized. She does not have a system; there are papers all over the desk, in boxes and in drawers. She is very hands-on and wants access to her files, so they must stay in her office. How do I start the process of weeding through and finding homes for everything?  She is always multitasking and there is never enough uninterrupted time to sit down with her to get organized. Because I am fairly new, I don’t yet have a full understanding of which files can be stored or purged, so she has to assist me in this process. Any suggestions?”   —Anonymous

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Question: “Is it ever appropriate to let a co-worker know why people don’t like her? I just finished working on a big project with a peer and found it so stressful that I simply cannot work on that same project next year. She disrupts meetings with too many questions, often asked in a demeaning way. She doesn’t listen, talks too much and rarely allows anyone else to get an idea heard … if we do, she still finds a way to say we’ll do it her way. She’s very intelligent and is able to help out in many ways, but she rubs people the wrong way. This project raises money. It was not a plus having her involved because everyone shuts down as soon as she appears. I ended up frustrated and even unwilling to participate by the project’s end. HELP!”   —Frustrated

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Question: “Is it ever appropriate to let a co-worker know why people don’t like her? I just finished working on a big project with a peer and found it so stressful that I simply cannot work on that same project next year. She disrupts meetings with too many questions, often asked in a demeaning way. She doesn’t listen, talks too much and rarely allows anyone else to get an idea heard … if we do, she still finds a way to say we’ll do it her way. She’s very intelligent and is able to help out in many ways, but she rubs people the wrong way. This project raises money. It was not a plus having her involved because everyone shuts down as soon as she appears. I ended up frustrated and even unwilling to participate by the project’s end. HELP!”   —Frustrated

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Question: “I’m the president of a growing company and I need help with personal stuff. I don’t have time to wait on the phone for two hours with the water company. However, I don’t mind paying my assistant to do the same. She is getting paid for her time to help me out. I think assistants who won’t help out with the personal stuff probably already have attitudes that bosses don’t like. I never make my people make me coffee or clean my office. But I do need help with bills and things like that. What is the problem?”  – Billy

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Question: “I’m the president of a growing company and I need help with personal stuff. I don’t have time to wait on the phone for two hours with the water company. However, I don’t mind paying my assistant to do the same. She is getting paid for her time to help me out. I think assistants who won’t help out with the personal stuff probably already have attitudes that bosses don’t like. I never make my people make me coffee or clean my office. But I do need help with bills and things like that. What is the problem?”  – Billy

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Question: What would the promotional career ladder or professional path be for someone who enjoys being an assistant and wants to make a career out of it? — No Name Please

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Question: What would the promotional career ladder or professional path be for someone who enjoys being an assistant and wants to make a career out of it? — No Name Please

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Question: “I am a Realtor’s assistant, hired to do minor admin duties and prospecting on commission.  Two months ago, my boss was put on bed rest and gave birth. Since then, I have been doing nearly all a Realtor does (with no pay increase): client contact, open houses, paperwork, taking pictures, handling weekend calls–often I have to google to find the answers! I use my own computer, car and cell phone. My boss even asks me to drive her and her children after hours! What’s worse: she told me to lie to clients to cover up for her condition. I cannot afford to quit until I find another job. How do I handle her personal demands without burning a bridge?” – Christina

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Question: “I am a Realtor’s assistant, hired to do minor admin duties and prospecting on commission.  Two months ago, my boss was put on bed rest and gave birth. Since then, I have been doing nearly all a Realtor does (with no pay increase): client contact, open houses, paperwork, taking pictures, handling weekend calls–often I have to google to find the answers! I use my own computer, car and cell phone. My boss even asks me to drive her and her children after hours! What’s worse: she told me to lie to clients to cover up for her condition. I cannot afford to quit until I find another job. How do I handle her personal demands without burning a bridge?” – Christina

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