Kids in the Office

Dear Jean,

The guy in the office down the hall invites his wife and kids to the office several times a week.  Now my assistant has started to allow her kid to pop in after school once in awhile.  I don’t think spouses and children belong in a working office.  How should I handle this problem, or is it a problem?  Am I simply behind the times?


Probably not.  I wonder how we would feel if our dentist allowed his/her children to hang out in the office during a sensitive procedure, or any procedure?  I know this example is a bit dramatic, but it makes the point, doesn’t it?

Because you have no control over the guy down the hall, your best bet is to ignore his wife and children.  Where your assistant is concerned, ask her to stop allowing her child to hang around in the office.  Do it in a straightforward manner.

Please avoid the urge to be self-righteous.  Explain that this behavior is not in her best interest.  It is up to you to set the tone for your own office.  Explain that in most offices, you can go up the ladder a lot faster with the more traditional approach when it comes to visitors.

I’m Shy at Social Gatherings

Dear Jean,

I have a real problem in social gatherings.  I’m really outgoing until I get to a big party.  I seem to do better at small gatherings.  I’m extremely comfortable in a one-on-one situation.  Is there anything I can do to relieve this nervousness in groups?


I feel the same way in groups of people I don’t know.  Once in awhile, I still end up in a corner talking to people I know rather than meeting new people.  A party at my own office is a breeze.  On my own territory, I know exactly what I want to gain from having the party.

The answer to your question lies in your reason for being at the party.  Be clear with yourself.  What is your goal? Are there people you want to meet?  Is this purely networking for business, or are you networking for social reasons as well?  Having a goal will help you walk into a room of mostly strangers.

My goal for a business party is usually quite simple – to make contact with two new people.  After I’ve reached my goal, it’s time to relax.  It’s important to me that the people I’ve met remember who I am and what I do, so when I return to my office, I send them a handwritten note with my business card.

Tattoo or No Tattoo?

Dear Jean,

I want to get a tattoo on my ankle.  I think they look great and several of my friends have them.  My parents told me that I’ll never get a job if I get a tattoo.  Is that really true?


No, that is not true.  Having a tattoo on your ankle does not mean that you will never get a job.  A tattoo on your face, neck or hands, though, may restrict you.  It changes from company to company.  The difference depends on many things, such as customer contact, the age of the company owner, and the type of company.

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would have people working in my office who have tattoos, I would have told them that they were wacko.  The picture I had in my mind of women with tattoos was very different from the reality of two very professional women I once hired who had roses on their ankles.  Over time, everyone changes.  I know I have.

Explosive Co-Worker

Dear Jean,

I have a co-worker who got really mad and just exploded when something that happened in the office really upset her.  I really don’t know how to deal with her anger.  Any suggestions?


The only thing you can do is go about business as usual.  There are plenty of people in the workplace who are just like your co-worker.  This won’t be the last time you are subjected to this type of behavior.  Yelling in the office is just plain rude, and in some cases it borders on verbal abuse.

People who are allowed to repeatedly blow off steam in an angry manner are creating a hostile environment and should be fired, but many times they are not.  Where does that leave you?  That leaves you with cold reality.  For your sanity, you must learn to let her outbursts roll off your back.  If you are not able to do that, you will have to start packing your bags.  Her behavior is not something you can control.

Leaving a Bad Situation

Dear Jean,

Recently, I had a job where the bosses didn’t talk properly to me.  I just walked out and quit.  I was pretty upset.  I know that is not the best way to handle things, so how would you handle the situation?


Rude is one thing and abusive is another.  A lot of people are just rather short and it can be perceived as rudeness.  A rude boss is not a reason to quit unless he or she is always rude.  Even then, don’t walk out.  Give notice.

Not giving notice will become part of your job history.  Make sure the next time you want to walk off a job, you know the difference between rude and abusive.  If your boss is rude, give a two-week notice.

Abusiveness is another issue altogether.  If your boss is touching you, swearing at you, throwing things or screaming uncontrollably, leave.  No notice required here.

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