Washington Post tackles tough questions from readers on how to handle annoying emails from co-workers, blushing at work, effectively re-vamping your resume, and savvy maternity leave.
Mike Shapiro/For Capital Business
Last week Joyce E.A. Russell took questions from readers online at capbiz.biz. Here are some excerpts:
Managing a difficult co-worker
Q:I have a co-worker in another office who often scolds me via e-mail and adds additional names to the “cc:” line. It is not as embarrassing as it is annoying. How do I approach her tactfully to put an end to this?
A: E-mail is often used inappropriately. It is definitely not the best forum for delivering bad or uncomfortable news. The e-mails often escalate back and forth and then the issues never get resolved. In fact, they tend to become even more difficult to resolve.
Let her know that you appreciate hearing about her concerns and feel that talking in person or over the phone would enable you to respond more effectively to her issues. Or, you could ask someone else who has a closer relationship with her (or is her boss) to talk with her about this. Make sure the conversation is done in person.
Blushing at work
Q:I have a terrible issue of blushing that I cannot control. It often happens when speaking in meetings or meeting someone new. I am good at my job but I feel this is really holding me back and making me seem immature.
A: I can understand your concern over this. I am assuming you have checked with a doctor? I have known people who were able to get some help in this way.
Another thing is that it seems you feel your blushing is holding you back. Just remember that people take their cues from you. If you blush, but still come across as confident (and ignore the blushing), they may also ignore it. I know this is much easier said than done. I would definitely encourage you to think about courses such as Dale Carnegie or Toastmasters if public speaking makes you nervous.
Q:I am in my mid-40s, graduated college with a bachelor’s in management and ethics in 2008. I have sent out approximately 75 resumes in the past month and I have heard absolutely nothing in response to my resume and cover letter. It has been suggested from friends to drop the years from the resume because it “dates” my age and also to highlight my accomplishments at my current job.
The problem is how do I do that when I have no job description and I do the everyday administrative tasks for a three-person office?
A: Having graduated in 2008 does not place you as an “older person” (not that recruiters should be looking at that issue anyway).
I would definitely highlight your accomplishments at your current job. There are plenty of examples of what resumes should look like. You might go to a book store and check out “Knock ’Em Dead Resumes” or “Knock ’Em Dead Cover Letters.” They offer some great ideas for what you should include and how to highlight your strengths.
Maternity leave concerns
Q:I will have been at my current job for a little over a year by the time my second child is born. The job has not worked out like I thought it would —I have a lot of down-time, very little direction from my superiors, and discussions about other projects I could work on have been shut down or not amounted to anything.
I do have some responsibilities that will have to be taken care of by someone else while I’m gone, and I’m terrified that when I go on leave, that person will notice that I’m not doing anything. The funding for my position comes from a contract, so I’m also worried that when it’s renewal time, they will reduce/eliminate my position and salary in order to make the “deal” more favorable to the other party. I’m worried I will come back to no job.
I am sort of looking for other jobs, but it will soon be very obvious that I’m expecting and I know that won’t help my chances.
A: Other employers, if you are currently looking for jobs, should not take into consideration your pregnancy when hiring you. If you get on the www.shrm.org Web site, you can learn more about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
About your current job, what about the possibilities of trying to enhance your work responsibilities at this point in time to ensure that you are able to come back to a viable job? Isn’t there anyone there to talk with about giving you more to do? Are there other managers in other departments you might be able to talk with (or volunteer to work with)? If not, your fears might be realized.
Joyce E.A. Russell is the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist.