Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Hold that Temper

Q. I'm low man on the totem pole in this office and I'm blamed for everything that goes wrong-always. I know I'm not stupid, and a lot of this is just passing the buck to me because I'm the only one who doesn't have enough power to defend myself. I need this job and wonder if I can do anything to keep from exploding and walking out.

Ans. There isn't always a choice between solving the problem or quitting the job-as there may be in your case. It is frustrating to be falsely accused, because it erodes your sense of trust in your workplace and more important, it forces you to defend yourself, which can place you in a position of weakness. But you can at least try to do it with dignity. Carl Alasko, author of Beyond Blame contends the most important step is to control your emotions, which happen to be very normal and even primitive. That's seen as a negative. Then focus on the war, not the battle. Examine all details of the situation and select the parts that make it very clear that you are innocent of wrongdoing. Be prepared to deal with people who do not understand any part of the word "fair." Develop a strategy of steps you can take after you've carefully considered the problem. List people in the company you can develop as allies-and enlist them for help by introducing yourself and beginning a relationship with them. They may become useful mentors as you move on in your career. That way, you won't always be at the bottom of that totem pole.

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