Before You Submit Your Question…….

Ask the Workplace Doctors is a FREE resource to help you find solutions to workplace communication problems.  

1. You may find the answer to your question in our archive of over 3,000 questions and responses in the categories on the right.

2. You will receive an email response. When your question is posted, it will be shown as anonymous.

3. Our expertise is workplace communication, not legal or medical concerns. Under the “Useful Links” tab at the top, we list sites to which you might submit legal and medical questions.

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Avoiding Trash Talker

I have a coworker I distance myself from because she trash talks about others and dupes people that she is a victim then uses others to gang up on one specific individual. When I interact with them I’m always professional and kind even if they spew passive aggressive comments at me. Recently sadly that co worker’s father has died. I wanted to give my condolences but felt wary about letting them into my life again. I decided I’ll talk to them in person at work instead of calling. Unexpectedly a manager came up to me asking why I personally didn’t contact her or call her to see if she was okay.

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Dissatisfied Because Another Department Interrupts

Ask the Workplace Doctors about dissatisfied with work interrupted by an adjoining department that has employees who lack knowledge and are paid better:

I would like to ask what a wise approach would be in this situation. I am working in a department with certain interdependencies with another department. People in the other department are inexperienced and do not take responsibility for their mistakes or ownership of tasks. They constantly come to me and my boss to review their work and ask questions that they should know how to answer at their level or repeated questions that were previously explained. There are Glassdoor reviews attesting to the lack of knowledge persistent in that department.

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Was My Colleague’s Comment an Insult?

Question: I am a project manager at a small, extremely busy advertising firm. One of our clients has direct communication with the creative director, completely bypassing me. This coworker posted conflicting information about a very large project. I asked him about the scope and due date and he told me to “just sit tight”. To me that is something you say to an anxious 8 year old child and not to a coworker who is just trying to do their job. This person regularly makes off-color comments but this response was directed specifically to me. Thoughts?

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Does a Year’s Work Mean I’m Permanent?

Is it possible to act in a position without signing a contract for more than a year and not be given the position permanently?  —Want To Know

Dear Want To Know:

For advice to your question, I invited Danica Rice, a Human Resource manager. Danica replied:  it’s hard to answer because I do not know what type of what this is referring to. In order to provide an accurate response more information is needed.  Ohio is an at-will state which means employment with almost all employers is at-will. The employer can terminate for or without cause as well as the employee can leave the employee with or without any reason. If a contract is in place then the contract has to be upheld or either party could be held liable for breach of the contract. Again, without more information this is all I can say about this question. 

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NOT FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about comparing duties and pay with a co-worker:

Work at a Inn/hotel. I work the night shift and do the Night Audit from 11pm-7am 4 nights a week, and there is a second person who works the other three nights a week. When he does his job, he does the night audit only! When I do my shifts, there are notes left for me to clean rooms, do laundry, etc. Not to mention he is paid more than I am. I do not feel that this is fair. They asked me to be housekeeping supervisor and I declined. It is as if they are getting two for the price of one! Please advise. –Signed, No Fair

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Feel Good as SWAT

“One specific thing that I feel great about is being a hostage negotiator with our regional SWAT team.   The men and women I work with on the negotiators team are incredible and I am truly honored to work with them.  The work we do and serving with the SWAT team definitely makes me feel good.”

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Should I Call My Partner’s Office?

Question: Me and my partner are not married. I am 6 months pregnant. In the first quarter of my pregnancy I found out that he was cheating on me and abandoned me during my pregnancy. Can I call his office and complain about him regarding what he did?

Answer: You must surely be going through some very difficult emotional and physical times right now. I hope you have family to support you, and I sincerely urge you to talk to your physician about other resources that can help you through your pregnancy and into a happy life with your baby. You should also seek legal assistance related to child support. Do it now, rather than waiting until the baby is born, because you will have expenses and need extra help before birth, if the baby’s father has left you on your own. If you are unsure about how to proceed, talk to the Social Services program of your county or state and see if they offer assistance.

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Good Feeling After A Broken Window

A brief story I can recall and offer for Ask the Workplace Doctors comes from more of a neighborhood context rather than the workplace, but it comes from our work providing community mediation. It took place when a senior citizen who lived alone with her two dogs felt very vulnerable when a group of teens were hanging out around her property and she imagined the worst and thought they were a gang.
She felt especially threatened one day when her garage window was broken with a baseball. She called the police but eventually our non-profit agency and mediation program was made aware of the situation and we were able to bring together (this is years ago pre-covid) the senior citizen and the teen and his father for a mediation.

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Guilty for Lying

A very long time ago when the comptroller (at the office where I worked) was fired, the VP of the company asked me if I thought he was having an affair, because of what was found in the comptroller’s desk drawer, and if he was, with whom.

Because I didn’t think he would believe the person I suspected, I named another person. Due to being confined to my home during this pandemic, it has weighed on my mind and I would like to send a letter to the VP, who is now the president, not revealing the person, but to relieve me of being tormented and the anxiety I am experiencing.

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I Thought I Was On Mute! Now What?

Question: I was on a Skype departmental call and didn’t realize it was unmuted. I was under pressure to get a lot done before the Christmas break. I swore at a message I was reading (I said shut the eff up) and the manager speaking on the call thought it was directed to him. He asked who said that? I felt so embarrassed and so in fear that I kept silent. I planned to tell him the next day but he was telling the story to others. He told a co-worker that he wished the director was on the call. Definitely the comment was not directed at him.

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