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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Keep Your Chin Up

Dear Sue: I've been working as a contractual employee for a while and was just informed that my contract will not be extended after December 31st of this year.

The department I work in has been through so much, and not all good I might add. I find myself not wanting to go to work anymore, and have been looking for excuses to stay home.  I used to have a lot of pride and respect for my job and my coworkers, but lately the atmosphere has been very negative and depressing. 

Many things have been handled inappropriately, there is favoritism shown toward some of the employees, and the supervisor claims he doesn't have time for any more personnel issues. 

I am not the only one who is not coming back or the only one that feels this way and lacks motivation. I know I only have 60 days left, but it is really a struggle. Do you have any suggestions on how to get through the next 60 days?  It used to be a great office -- but simply put, I really cannot handle much more of the office crud and politics.  It is mentally destroying me bit by bit.  Thanks for your time. 

- Losing it

Sue Says: Although you are showing up for work physically, emotionally, you are already absent. I am sure that is why it is so difficult to continue to go every day. The closer you get to your last day, the easier it should be for you.

A number of years ago, I was called in to create and present workshops to over 800 people who were losing their jobs. The company wanted to make the transition easier for those who were on their way out and make the last few months bearable for those who were leaving as well as the people who were staying. 

Management had noticed a huge drop in morale. They believed that when people were negative and emotionally removed that it not only made it difficult the last few months on the job for them, but that it would impact future opportunities for them as well. No one knew how a new career opportunity might surface, and as it turned out in this situation, a number of ex-employees started a new company shortly after they left. Which people do you think they offered jobs to as they grew?  

Obviously it wasn't the people who begrudgingly came to work the last days of their job.  

It may be difficult to see the good that can come from this change in your plans or how what you do your last days will affect your future opportunities, but why not leave on the best possible note? You have a great track record with this company. Why do anything to tarnish your reputation? If there are others who are also being forced out, what makes you think that your paths won't cross again someday? The people who surround you now may be connections for you in the future.

In addition, it will just make it easier if you try to look for some of the good that can come out of your departure. More often than not, it is difficult experiences such as the one you are going through that will make you a wiser and stronger individual. View this as a learning experience and a launching pad for the next phase of your career. Good luck.

Dear Sue: I am the owner of an auto repair shop and have only been open for three years. The main highway I am located on was being repaved and I lost some business because of it. 

I am concerned about my business because I don't have enough people stopping or calling. Advertising just costs money and doesn't always bring in new customers. I need some good advice to help my business grow. 

- Business owner

Sue Says: Do you expect customers to call or stop by just because you have a sign out? You need to do something to entice people to come to your shop. Be creative in your approach and give people a reason to give you their business over your competition.

Reconnect with the customers you have had in the past. A courtesy call, making sure they were satisfied is one type of connection. Another may be to generate referrals, but you may need an incentive for someone to do so. And make sure you give something in return.

Rather than merely placing an ad hoping it will generate new business, consider coupons or offer a discount for anyone who comes in and mentions the ad. 

Find ways to enhance your service and exceed customer expectations. Maybe it's sending every car out freshly washed, putting an air freshener in every car or a thank you note with a piece of candy. Little things make a big difference.

Without knowing more about your business it is difficult for me to be more specific, but there is help out there for you. Look for classes or services designed to help business owners like you. And, most importantly, think in terms of what you can do for your customers rather than thinking about what they can do can do for you by giving you business. 

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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