CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

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

paper jams?

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

terrible addiction?

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

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