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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DR JOB Q & A: Dealing with 'Chatty' Co-Worker

 (Q.1) HOW DO I TELL MY co-worker, who won't shut up when talking to clients, that she's driving them-and everyone in the office-nuts? We set up appointments for patients of a medical center. All we are supposed to do is ask for name, birth date, and address so we can verify their ID. Then we find a time and day and mark it in the book. That's it. But this woman never stops. When it's time to hang up, she starts chatting as if the caller is her best friend. Today I heard her say, "I'm so tired. I just can't sleep at night. I keep waking up and can't fall back to sleep."  Yesterday she told a caller that she has pains in her back from sitting in the office chair so long all day. Unfortunately, she is talking to SICK people who do NOT need to hear about her ills. Do I just say that to her face because I am getting very exasperated? Or do I tell our supervisor, who just might fire her and then I'd feel terrible?

(A) YOU'RE RIGHT, THAT BEHAVIOR is inappropriate in a medical office. But don't take all that responsibility on your shoulders or YOU'LL have trouble sleeping. It's perfectly all right to help a colleague who may not be aware of what she is doing. Instead of telling her in a negative way that she's doing something wrong, be positive. Casually comment, "I notice that was a very long conversation. Perhaps you can try to keep it shorter by just taking the information and giving the appointment time and date. I know you're really too busy to chat with each one so long." Say it with a smile. If she continues to do it, speak to the human resources director, or a supervisor, and ask that you remain anonymous. 

(Q.2) I NOTICE A LOT OF COLLEGE people are asking you for help finding jobs overseas or in different parts of the country because many of us are just beginning to discover that we have more to offer the world than bachelor degrees. Do you have some suggestions on ways to find adventurous work before settling down for the long haul?

(A) ONE FINE SOURCE IS GOING GLOBAL, a Web site devoted to International Careers, here and abroad. Check out www.goingglobal.com . A recent update covers topics the world over, such as working in Brazil, getting visas in Belize and understanding trends in South Africa. It also explores inexpensive places to live abroad and cultural issues in Denmark. In addition, it covers jobs and internships available throughout the U.S. You are to be commended for your enthusiasm and "curiosity"-the most important traits for eventually attaining success in life.

(Q. 3) I'M NEWLY WIDOWED AND HAD a shock this week when I realized I have to do all the things my husband used to do. For example, I got a notice to renew the car license, but it said I had to take it for clean air testing first. I never did that in my life. Just as I never filled the gas tank myself before he died. I went to my office to work many years and he took care of those things. He also gathered all the tax returns and took them to our accountant who prepared our income tax report. Although I retired, I feel overwhelmed by these jobs. In fact, I feel as though I'm just too old to start doing them. How do I take care of these "must do" jobs without going crazy?

(A.)ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE HARD for a women who sounds as though she was fairly independent all her life-it's time you said the magic word: HELP! Ask a relative or friend, male or female, who has been handling income tax returns for many years to walk you through the preparation. Also contact your regular accountant and ask what he or she expects you to do. Many now have "workbooks" that include much of the information they already have in their computers about you. You really have nothing to fear but fear itself, as President Roosevelt said, and it increases as you think and talk about it without taking positive action. Preparing your income tax for the accountant is NOT, repeat NOT, rocket science unless you are, say, Warren Buffet. As for car maintenance, corner a young boy in the family or neighborhood. Most are more than happy to do anything for you that involves cars. Invite one to ride with you to the tester the first time and you'll see how simple that is too. A computer does the testing-you don't. You may repay all these kindnesses with a gift of baked goods or a couple of movie tickets. The hardest part here is saying that word: "HELP!" for the first time. But it gets easier.

(Q. 4.) I'M STUDYING PSYCHOLOGY AND hope to become a therapist but am not sure what area I want to serve. I recently heard about a specialty called "Child Sleep Consultants" and wonder what that is and how one gets to do that. It sounds like something I really could feel passionate about as I have children and know how difficult that problem can be.

(A,) YOU'RE RIGHT THAT SOME specialties offer that help for sleepless, overwhelmed parents. According to The Family Sleep Institute, which certifies sleep consultants throughout the U.S., they play an important part in helping families establish healthy sleep patterns, which are necessary if the kids are to do well in school and if the parents are to do well at their jobs the next day.See.  www.familysleepinstitute.com.         
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