“Ask The Workplace Doctors” Is A Free Workplace Communications Resource!

For over two decades, Ask the Workplace Doctors, the site developed by William I. Gorden, Ph.D., of Kent State University, School of Communication Studies, has been a workplace communications resource for thousands of people from around the world. You can still count on us to provide practical, reasonable, useful and compassionate advice.

Ask the Workplace Doctors invites you to:
•Ask a question about your workplace communication problem.
(We cannot respond to medical questions–please talk directly to a medical professional.)
•Search for answers in our archive of over 3,000 questions and responses.
A NEW FEATURE!
Share your “Good Feeling Workplace Moments”!

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Elbowed Out!

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an assistant trying to take her job:

I have worked with my boss, the Executive Director, for 7 years. I am an Executive Assistant supporting the E.D., President, Board of Directors and I supervise/manage reception. We recently hired an Admin Assistant for the contract department and from day 1, she has been overstepping my responsibilities. Initially, I thought she just didn’t know better or was just trying to prove herself and would casually just let her know/clarify process/procedures, etc. to her to which she would interrupt, ask questions, and talk over me while I was talking/answering. She has now overstepped about 8 times in the past 2 months including trying to “manage” our new receptionist whom then asked me to talk to her because she was getting confused on who she is to report to.

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Good Feeling Workplace Moments: Customers Appreciated My Efforts

“This past summer I worked at an international trade show in Atlanta feeling that my efforts were failing in my export sales. During the course of the four-day event I had four current Canadian customers and five new customers approach my Vice President and thank us for pursuing their business in Canada as their local suppliers have been unable to meet their requirements for various reasons. I even had my main competitor in Canada approach us asking to help them with their production issues and meeting their customer needs. The previous time and effort I had spent developing relationships and building a personal trust with customers paid off smartly not only by the actual sales but by the customers approaching my leadership and team members complimenting my work to build the market up through my personal efforts.” —

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What To Do Next?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a very unpleasant matter:

Well, recently found out that a co-worker had been storing and smearing their faeces in our toilet. We found the faeces all over the basin of the sink. When asked what had happened, everyone was angered and shocked, including the guilty party.

We looked into what we could do to prevent this from happening as we have had minor cases of this in previous months. The next day the smell wasn’t going away. So my boss removed the tiles from around the sink, and behind there was lots of faeces, some in tissue some not. Other rubbish was stored behind there as well, such as wrappers and ladies feminine napkins etc…

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My Husband’s Assistant Is Trying To Stake Her Claim to Him

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an
administrative assistant who treats her boss’s wife discourteously. 

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Question:
My husband has had a new female assistant for a couple of months. For the way our life was structured I had to give up to my life and become a supportive wife and mother, a job I have carried out with dedication and passion. Our life situation has now forced me to live away from my husband to follow-up on the children’s education.

I went back home during the holiday and met his assistant for the first time. I was unhappy about the choice and would rather have had a man, however, I very kindly welcomed her. After a few days she seemed to be pushing me out of what she considers her territory. She said things I consider completely inappropriate. For example: I wished her a happy new year and she replied, “First thing, we are going to fix Peter’s health this year.” (As if she was part of his personal life and thought I wasn’t taking care of him as I should, as his wife.)

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Good Feeling Workplace Moment: Daily Greeting and Farewell From Boss

I want to share a good feeling workplace moment that I noticed while I was doing business in an office. As I was talking to a person at a counter, a woman who appeared to be a manager, came down the line of employees and briefly said goodbye to each person. When she got to the employee who was helping me, she paused a bit, looked at me and said, “Forgive me for interrupting you, I just wanted to say goodbye to Veronica before I leave for the day. Are you getting everything taken of as you need?”

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Should I Apologize?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a big mistake caused by gossip.

I recently gossiped about a coworker and I feel horrible about it. The story may be long but it may help to get where I’m coming from. I’m an inexperienced, shy, young guy and I met a girl who caught my interest at a job I got a few months ago. My first mistake was telling a couple of my coworkers about my interest with this girl. It spread throughout my entire department and everyone made it their mission to get this girl to go out with me. I awkwardly talked to her a few times and I thought I wasn’t going to get anywhere. One day my coworker said I should message her, I did and got nervous. I asked him for advice and he took my phone and asked her out for me. She agreed to my surprise, I wouldn’t have gone out with me at that point, considering that we hardly spoke to each other. We went to a Starbucks she wanted to go to and it was not a proud moment for me. I knew I was boring, I was uncomfortable and I wanted to go home but stayed for an hour until she “had” to leave.

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What Should I Do About Coworkers Who Abuse and Misuse Overtime?

Question:

My department is very small and very loosely managed by a woman who is additionally in charge of a larger department. This means she is too busy to monitor us, so we are in charge of deciding our own projects and overseeing our own work.

This manager has delegated the approval of overtime to the person who has been at the company the longest (25 years) and is the most trusted. She signs off on it without actually checking if the projects were completed or even legit (they are not). This allows my co-worker to falsify how much overtime he is doing, and he allows his buddy to do the same. Last month they each claimed 40 hours of overtime, the legal limit.

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Thrown Up Against The Wall

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being attacked by a co-worker:

I was walking down the aisle at work when a co-worker grabbed my shirt and threw me up against the wall and asked me a question about a girl that was my friend that he also was dating. He wanted information about her and me.

I did not fight back. I went to a manager and told him of the situation. Then the manager told HR who then fired the gentleman. Two days later, HR called into their office saying that they have petitioned to have the employee come back to work.

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Can My Husband And A Coworker Be Fired For Their Affair?

Question:

My husband had an affair back in September 2016. He ended up getting the woman pregnant and continues to have a relationship with her while we are still married. I have contacted her and she knows that he is married and she doesn’t care. They both work at the same company, he works at a site in another state and she works at the corporate office in another state. If I report them to HR, could they both get fired?

Answer: 

Whether your husband and the woman with whom he is involved could be fired for having an affair, would depend upon the rules and policies of the employer and the work roles and respective status of the two of them.

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How Do I Get Over Being Attracted To My Manager?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about
feeling attracted to a manager but wanting to get over it. 

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Question:

I am happily married and find myself attracted to my manager. I started this job 6 months ago and a couple months in, found myself attracted to his personality. Since I first realized the attraction it has grown stronger on my part to the point I think I am more infatuated than anything. I suspect, although I am not sure, that he may feel the same way. Nothing inappropriate has been said or has happened, just to clarify. I find myself wanting to know if he feels the same way, mainly for egotistical reasons. I also know that I will never know. The main problem that has arisen from all this is that my feelings for him have become quite intrusive on my personal life. I think about him constantly if I am not at work. My thoughts are distracting me from my marriage, children, and my life in general. This has been going on for over two months now. What do I need to do to get myself straight and get my life back together? I have not spoken about this to any of my friends as this is quite embarrassing

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