A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Stressful Work Environments
Dear Sue: I work for a company that believes that keeping a
person under stress will make them work harder. People come and go with
that company weekly. I have been employed there for five years and I can
tell I've turned into a colder, tougher person. I follow all the rules,
never miss work, and I have a top quality work performance, with one
exception -- I forgot to initial some paperwork I completed, and was
severely reprimanded. Considering my track record, I don't think I
deserved the harsh criticism. My supervisor said that they are cracking
down on people and going to be even stricter in their policies.
My doctor told me at my last appointment that I should change my
lifestyle and my job. I think it would be just as stressful to start over
in a job, and I don't want to lose my benefits. What do you suggest I
Sue Says: I understand your dilemma and your desire to take the
path that will cause you the least amount of additional stress. However,
the fact that your doctor has suggested you change your lifestyle and look
for another job leads me to believe that your situation at work is taking
a bigger toll on you than you realize. No job and no benefit package can
be worth losing your health over.
If you really want to stay, you will need to make some adjustments, and
your doctor's orders may help you. Have you ever talked with anyone in
your company about the stressful environment? Although you may not see the
changes you want, it is worth a try to talk with others in position of
authority and to come up with suggestions about ways to reduce the
Dear Sue: My supervisor is very difficult to deal with. On
several occasions I've approached him about his manner, but haven't seen
much change. As a consequence, I am being singled out and made an example
of his authority. Every encounter with him results in a
I am feeling the effects with stronger demands. I am older and really
like my job and the challenges it affords, but the constant badgering is
too much to bear.
- Need help
Sue Says: Your supervisor sounds more than difficult to deal
with; he sounds as though he is headed for trouble if he is singling you
out and treating you differently than the others.
I applaud you for taking a stand and approaching him about his behavior
toward you, but since you haven't gotten results, you may need to do more.
You may want to involve his supervisor or talk with your human resources
You don't deserve this type of treatment and don't have to tolerate it.
Do what you need to do to receive fair and equal treatment.
Dear Sue: I am single and childless, and have reason to believe
that some women (especially managers) are jealous of me because of my
Other women seem to think the single ladies get all of the attention,
and I have found it difficult to make friends with them. How should I deal
Sue Says: You really have no control over what other people
think of you. Although some women may be jealous of your status, I have a
feeling there is more going on than you realize. If you find it difficult
to be friends with some of your married coworkers, it may be because you
have less in common with them, or due to the manner in which you knowingly
or unknowingly flaunt your status.
Make an effort to find some common ground with your coworkers, and try
to divert some of the attention you are getting by focusing on others.
Take an honest inventory of yourself and determine ways to deter the
jealousy and foster a more comfortable, friendly work environment.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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