(Q.1) MY BOSS' WIFE DIED and the announcement asked that in lieu of flowers we donate to an organization of the family's choice. It happens that this organization has political and social views that are against my own. Is it right for him to do this? Is it ok for me to make the donation to a group that I approve of? I don't want him to think I can't follow his directions, but I hate to contribute to that group. What's "politically correct" here?
(A.) IT'S KIND AND GENEROUS of you to consider following his directions by donating to a worthwhile cause. But there's no law saying you must choose that one. Instead of choosing another political organization, choose one of many worthwhile groups that seek cures for a disease (such as the one his wife died from) or a civic group that does good work for all people in your community.
HANDLE TOXIC BOSS
(Q.2) THE PERSON WHO interviewed and hired me is a great guy and we hit it off right away. He loved all my suggestions, was excited about having me on board, then two weeks later, when I reported for my first day on the job, they told me he'd been promoted to head another department in another section of the building. I am left with his replacement, who came from another city, brought two or three people with him and I feel he'd like me to leave so he can bring more. I really dislike him because he is rude, loud, and makes terrible jokes then laughs the loudest at them. What do I do?
(A) IT DEPENDS UPON HOW MUCH you love the actual work and if you are willing to put up with any amount of antagonism to keep doing it. At least try and get along since this is a new job in a difficult economy. Since you've already determined the reason for his behavior, there are a few things you can do. Career Manager Jayne Mattson, a senior vice president at Keystone Associates, suggests you ask for a private meeting and tell him you feel he isn't comfortable with you and ask if there is something you can do to improve your relationship. If you are unwilling to take the risk of saying that, ask Human Resources to intervene. But all that might turn out badly if he really wants to get rid of you. It would be wise, in any event to consider that seriously, and get your resume ready to seek work elsewhere.
DON'T QUIT--MANAGE STRESS
(Q.3) STRESS IS KILLING ME AT this place. They've laid off almost everyone and I'm left doing the work of five people. Is there anything I can do without quitting? I can't afford that.
(A.) CALM DOWN. Allen Elkin, author of Stress Management for Dummies, 2nd edition, has suggestions on ways to relax. If you follow these you may be able to soldier on even under these difficult conditions. Start by trying to relax. Make yourself let go of tension, use meditation, and focus on breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Anything that distracts you will help, even a bath or stroll in the park. Also eat well and exercise, he adds. Try and get enough sleep and let go of the unimportant issues. Organizing your life helps too, he says, since relieving chaos relieves tension. Two ways to accomplish all of this are to manage your time more efficiently and have a strong support system. Often, if you look around, you'll find that at home.
BE A SPORT: LET 'EM LINK IN
(Q.4.) SOME PEOPLE I KNOW--AND SOME I DON'T-- ask me to add them to my "linked in" account. Years ago I let a young friend open an account for me, and I never went back there. I don't know what good it's done me, and certainly don't know if it's helped anyone else, and I wonder if I should just close the darn thing.
(A.) ANYTHING AS POPULAR AS linked in must mean something to someone, and if you can contribute to someone else's success or happiness by letting him or her join your crowd, what's the harm in that? Obviously it works for them or they wouldn't try so hard to keep expanding their networks. It doesn't hurt you to click "approve" and forget about it. It also will make them think well of you-whoever they are.