“Ask The Workplace Doctors” Is Still A Great Workplace Communications Resource

Ask The Workplace Doctors has almost 3,000 questions and answers
for you to search. Or, ask your own question!

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. However, we are dealing with problems related to the appearance of some of the questions and answers and hope you will patient about those.

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Ear Buds Where & When

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about protection of hearing:
I know it is against regulations to wear ear buds on MHE equipment. I had a question asked today on where are they OK to wear. I told them not on MHE equipment or in high traffic areas. I told them if they were working where no traffic came then it was OK to wear. Now, I am asked to do a safety meeting at work. Is there any information about the “wheres” ear buds can be worn at work?
Signed, Where & When
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Dear Where & When:
We’ve had many questions regarding noise in the workplace. That is a special area of expertise that OSHA consultants provide; it’s not ours, but we try as apparently you will in your upcoming safety meeting. Below several of our Q&As are referenced.

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Terminated Without Proper Investigation

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about terminated without proper investigation:
I joined a large company last June to head a large technical team. The person leaving my position went to another area of business, probably out of frustration. I wanted to start new and brought in fresh ideas and equitable work distribution. Some of the folks apparently did not like this as they were used to taking it easy.

One of those employees – usually a good worker – did not like one scope of an improvement sentence in his mid-year review. So he went and complained of frivolous things (and untrue of course) to HR in Feb. this year. HR apparently did not take it seriously. Then he rallied a few of his peers (that also reported to me) since they come from same region in Asia. They added their backing to this employee. HR started an investigation. HR however would not reveal who complained (as expected).
One of my employees was a low performer. However, when I knew that she was pregnant, I rated her as “Satisfactory” for year-end review. During calibration for the year end across our group, my manager and my peers raised an objection and wanted her to be marked as a poor performer. The HR representative in the call also agreed that she could be marked as low since she is not on maternity leave yet and her evaluation was for a time before her absence. So, I agreed with the team to mark her as low.

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Conflict Between Daughters Has Created Conflict Between Parents At Work

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a conflict at work that
began with a conflict between the daughters of the coworkers.

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Question:
Hi, I have worked side by side with what I considered a friend, not only coworker, for 25 years now. I am the office manager. Our daughters are both in middle school at the same school and do not get along well. In May, my coworker quit speaking to me unless she had to, where once we would talk quite often.

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Told My District Manager Wrote Me Up

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a write up:
Can my district manager enter a write up into my personnel file that I have never seen? I was told I was being written up, but he never showed me a document that I could read or sign. I feel I was being bullied and no document even exists.
Signed Bullied By Write Up

Bullied By Write Up:
Apparently, if you have been told correctly, you can be written up by your district manager. Whether this is within the rules of your organization hinges on what are its rules. Have you been bullied by this because you have not been informed and allowed to read it? Not necessarily. Your information of a write up might be simply that someone heard you were whereas what real took place was that the district manager made a note of something he/she disapproved. Supervisors and managers can do that. Is that good management? It is not good management to allow such a notation to get into a rumor mill.

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Bad Hearing

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about possible racial misunderstanding due to hearing loss:
I may be working at a restaurant soon but my manager and co-workers all have heavy accents and I have bad hearing. I don’t want to be annoying or look racist by asking over and over what they said. How can I make this situation better for me and my co-workers?

Signed: Don’t Want To Be Seen As Racist

Dear Don’t Want To Be Seen As Racist:

From what you say, you aren’t yet employed in a restaurant that has a manager and co-workers who have language that you might not be able to understand. Having a language different from yours doesn’t mean that they have as you put it “heavy accents”; it’s just that their manner of speaking is different from what you are used to—when speaking and hearing.

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I Am In Love With My Boss But He Doesn’t Feel the Same Way. Should I Quit or Stay?

A Question for the Workplace Doctors: Should I quit my job
or should I stay and hope for a closer relationship with my boss?

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Question:
I have been working in my business for more than 3 years now. I started as a part time worker and now my boss is willing to give me a certain percentage of the company shares, due to my hard work. We both have a good relationship at work, despite having a few arguments and disagreements about work. In fact, his mother and I get along well and she is my main support whenever we have issues at work, since she is also a part of the company.

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Accountant Given HR Responsibilities

Question submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being hired as an accountant but given HR responsibilities.

I started with this company 9 months ago as a Accounts Payable and then got promoted to staff accountant right after my probation period of three months ended. I was put in the situation where I had to help with HR related work since we do not have a dedicated HR person. Few months later my boss got fired and our entire team changed. My new boss keeps taking away my accounting work and keep giving it to the senior accountant (who doesn’t like me since I am much younger than her and know the business a little more than she does). Her and other new people in our department keep making personal comments on my appearance to the point where I go home and cry myself to bed every night. Should I just quit my job because the company dynamics are changed?

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How Should I Treat A Co-Worker Who Is Given Preferential Treatment?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about relationships with a co-worker
who seems to be getting preferential treatment.

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Question:
Should I stop talking to a coworker who is clearly given partiality on the work line by the line leader? I have been a good sport about this for a long time and it has not changed. I am now very resentful that I am given jobs that are difficult and she is exempt because of their friendship.

Answer:
Without knowing any details of the situation it is difficult to give specific advice, but I can certainly give you something to consider: If your coworker is a friend of the line leader and you stop talking to the coworker, it is probable that the line leader will hear about it and will not view you favorably. Do you think that will help you get better jobs or even more difficult ones? Refusing to talk pleasantly to a coworker is never the solution to a work problem related to a supervisor.

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Spreading Rumor I Am Gay

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gay gossip: My manager is spreading rumors about my sexuality.
I work for a fast food restaurant. I’m 17. Two of my co-workers, a drive-through girl and a cook, who don’t socialize with each other, both told me the exact same story that my much older female manager is spreading rumors saying I’m gay. This could cause many co-workers to have a different attitude toward me. When the cook took up for me saying he’s not gay, she replied, “Well I don’t know that he is, but I think he is.”

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How Can I Get Over Caring About My Boss, If He Wants to End Our Affair?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about
dealing with the emotions of an affair:
How can I stop caring so much? 

Question: 
I have been working at my job for about two years and some way, somehow I ended up having sex with my boss. He and I are married. We have been like this for over a year and I have tried to stop, but my feelings always have me going back to what we had. Neither of us have intentions of leaving our significant other for one another.

Lately my boss has been very distant and I give him his space. I think he knows it’s time to stop. Unfortunately I got attached to him. I don’t know what to do so I can just stop having feelings for him. 

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