Q I've been working at my present firm for just a little while. I
have been entrusted with an important project that I'm very excited
about it - both personally and professionally. My problem: I need my
supervisor's help with some aspects of it. She knows this, but is
presently engulfed by other issues that she - understandably - deems to
be more crucial right now. But my deadline is fast approaching, and I
really need my boss' help on this. How do I approach her, knowing that
she may chew my head off?
Mr. F, New York
A Sounds like you know from direct experience that you will suffer
cranial mastication if you pester your boss over this project. Let me
try and understand you. Are you a dithering staffer who runs to your
boss with every little problem, from client blow-ups to photocopier
Or are you a lone struggling drone, who fears for his job if he dares to
squeak for help?
Neither, you say? Well in that case, I really cannot understand why you
have a problem asking for the assistance that you need. Perhaps the
problem is in your approach. If you excite your boss's interest, you
will get attention.
So don't just simper up to her and ask for "a little time to talk about
this project." Instead, initiate a discussion about one of the
interesting problems you are working on, and engage her in a dialogue
about how you are approaching it. When your boss' interest is piqued,
quickly ask for a time later that day to brief her on the whole
If that fails, give her a written list of the points you need to
If she sees that you have a clear agenda for a discussion, she's much
more apt to slot you in.
Q I hate my job. I mean, I really, really hate it. I have been working
in corporate communications for a hospital network for the past six
years, and I've absolutely had enough of it. My boss is inept and rude,
the organization is bureaucratic, and the healthcare industry just
doesn't interest me anymore. I want to look for a new job, but I am
afraid that my boss will find out that I am looking. I can't afford to
leave this job without a new one to go to. What should I do?
Ms. N, Richmond, VA
A Oh, you make me tired. I won't even bother telling you that this is a
terrible job market and you should be grateful for what you've got.
But there is absolutely no benefit in directing so much bile towards
your present employer and position. Someone once said that people are
bound more tightly to things they despise than to things they love. Try
and detach your emotions from your job and think rationally about what
you see as your next career step.
Q I am hopelessly addicted to the internet and e-mail. I can't stop
myself from checking my e-mail at least 10 times an hour. I am
constantly logged on to the internet, and find myself trawling through
news sites without even thinking about it. Lately, I have had to stay
later and later just to catch up on my real work. How can I break this
Mr. A, San Francisco
A Only one way out of this one, honey. Turn it off. Check e-mail once an
hour, and reward yourself with short spans of surfing only when you have
completed set tasks. Ask a confidante in your office to help you stick
to the rules.
Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try
Pandora. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.