“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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My Promotional Interview Was A Sham, Now What?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about what to do when it seems
the results of a promotional interview were determined ahead of time. 

Question:
I have been an employee for a local government organization for almost ten years now. A promotional opportunity opened up and everyone who has worked with me or is working with me told me that I am best qualified for this step up. I have a flawless work record, outstanding work performances, I have been at that location the longest, I get along great with everyone, etc….. So there is no reason why I shouldn’t be promoted.

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Blackballed

I’m in an at-will state, and as a non-permanent employee, I was terminated with no reason (after months of bullying and harassment). Then I had an interview schedule in another section (different boss, different clients), and HR called to rescind the interview. No reason. No one will talk to me. I’m over 68 years old. Any recourse? (more…)

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Get Them Off the Gossip Train

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about dealing with gossip and office problems as an assistant:

My workplace is very small (12 people). I just began working there in January. Even though I am a very positive and upbeat person, sometimes the gossip that goes on is tough to maneuver around.

I really like people, and I like everyone to be happy. While I know that I cannot always make everyone happy, I do want to try to do so as often as possible. I am the assistant office manager, and sometimes, others come to me and tell me about issues they are experiencing in hopes that I may offer them some empathy, or that I will join in on their side. While I’m happy to offer empathy if it is deserved (i.e. someone is not feeling well), often, it’s talk about others and office problems. (more…)

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Want My Wife Fired

Question:
I caught my wife’s lover in my home, and after I threw him out, my wife confessed to having a 3 month affair with this guy. I investigated and found out he works with her and she told him about the job opening. I want her fired. Will calling HR be enough?

Signed-Want Her Fired

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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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