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Bizarre Behaviors

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


I was at a meeting with my manager and some members of senior management, and whenever I talked, my manager kicked me. I didn't know if he wanted me to keep talking or be quiet, so I ignored him. After the meeting, he said I was talking too much, and he was kicking me to get me to stop. I'm annoyed and don't know what to what tell him.
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In the past few weeks, I have spilled coffee three times in my office. One of the spills ruined a keyboard, and the others simply stained the carpet a little. My boss told me that if I have one more spill, he is going to fire me. I'll do my best not to have another accident, but isn't his reaction a little over the top? How should I deal with him?
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I just brought a fairly large cactus into my office, and the office manager caught sight of it and said that it is not an appropriate plant for an office. She said that it gives off a threatening atmosphere and the thorns pose a safety risk, so, it has to go. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
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A year ago, my boss hired "Joe" to help me with my workload. Joe gets along well with the boss, but everyone else in the office is afraid of him. He has a violent temper and swears constantly. When someone talks nicely to him, he'll make a violent threat like, "How about I smash your head in with a sledgehammer?" I told my boss that we don't feel safe with Joe working here, but he refuses to do anything. In fact, he thinks the whole situation is funny. Should I search for a job elsewhere before Joe gets totally out of hand?
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Our district manager invited me and the group of employees that I manage to meet with her to discuss their concerns, complaints, and suggestions. At our district manager's insistence, my employees were very open and expressed some important matters. The district manager called me on the next day and said she is very disappointed in my employees and thinks they are a bunch of complainers. Does this sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me?
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My new manager was in my office and needed to use a calculator, but he did not have his. When I gave him mine, he looked at it and laughed. It's a very basic model, but it's all I need because I mainly use a spreadsheet program. This manager said he now sees me in a different light. He's already told several people, even though he was able to do the calculations he needed on my calculator. What do I say in this situation?
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Our company recently hired a new office manager, but she does not know how to manage at all. She runs around here doing menial tasks and getting in the way, and we have to train her in so many areas while she is supervising us. This seems unfair, and there are several of us who should have been promoted instead of hiring her from the outside. What should we do?
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The owner of the company brings his dog to work, and I've always been afraid of dogs. The owner half-jokingly says that his dog is the best judge of people, and since the dog snarls at me, I must have some kind of problem. How does this sound to you?
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Whenever I meet with my manager, he takes out his nail clippers and cuts his fingernails throughout our discussion. I think this is rude, inconsiderate, and sort of gross, but I don't want to say anything because he could get real upset. What can I do?
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When we travel to trade shows for our company, we are expected to share accommodations with other employees of the company. Sometimes these accommodations are coed. Is this proper etiquette for our company to expect the employees to share and what should the guidelines be?
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I was meeting with one of the people who report to me when her cell phone rang. She answered it and had a five-minute personal conversation, and then wanted to continue as if nothing had happened. I told her that if she ever did that again in a meeting with me, I would put a reprimand in her file. She thinks I overreacted, but I don't think so. Do you?
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Part of my job is to screen resumes for our company, and many resumes are emailed to us. We are trying to fill a marketing position, and a resume came in from a female who has a sexually suggestive name as part of her email address. Why would an applicant do this, and is this name something we should consider in screening?
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I returned early from lunch and found one of my employees in my office, and the door was closed. He was sitting at my desk and was doing something on my computer. He said his computer was giving him trouble and he needed to access a document he had forwarded to me earlier in the day. That document was on the screen, but I don't know if he was actually working on it or had it ready to access just in case. He's been a good employee to date. What do you suggest?
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I am fairly new to this company, and a couple of my associates invited me to play golf. Things went well until I got upset and broke a club and threw it. I knew I was wrong, and I apologized on the spot, but I wrecked the day. Now these guys hardly talk to me. How can I rebuild things?
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I have a manager who reports to me, and she recently changed her title to "Director." She now tells people that this is her title, but I never agreed to this change. We never even discussed it until I got wind of it from another employee. When I met with her, she said her work is now at a director level, so she should have that title. What do you make of this?
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My brother and I both worked for this company up until a month ago when he was fired. Now he keeps badmouthing the company and tells me to quit. He says that since we are brothers, it's the least I can do. I don't want to quit, and I don't want to have a problem with him. How do I handle this?
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I am in management, and the managers' offices have plants, all of which are thriving but mine. After a recent meeting in my office, my manager suggested that my attitude might be causing the plants to do poorly. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn't. What should I say to him?
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Our company goes through a reorganization every couple of years. There is one manager who never sees eye to eye with me, and he recently said in a half-joking way that if I ever end up working under him, I will not be working here for long. I just heard through the grapevine that I may be reporting to him very soon. What should I do?
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I work in a well-known apparel company and I wore a shirt that had the logo from one of our competitors. I did it because I like the shirt, not because I was trying to make a joke or some kind of statement. My boss was furious, and so were several other managers. I won't do it again, but I could not believe how insecure they were about this. Is this really that big of a deal?
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My manager wants everything boiled down to the minimum, especially meetings and reports. The other day he asked me to find the two most important words to be an excellent manager. How do I answer this? There's communication, fairness, recognition, and much more.
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My manager is always exercising when we meet with him. He has tennis balls that he squeezes during our meetings, and sometimes he lifts weights with one hand and then the other. All of us are annoyed by this, but we are reluctant to say anything. What do you suggest?
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I travel about half of the time, and my manager occasionally accompanies me. When he does, he expects me to carry some of his bags. I have my belongings plus samples, and I do not appreciate having to carry his things too. How can I put a stop to this without upsetting him?
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I have an East European name, and one of the managers here makes fun of it, often asking if he can "buy a vowel." I have a sense of humor, but I am tired of hearing this from him and I have told him to stop. He keeps doing it and says he means no harm and is just having fun. How do I get him to stop?
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I am a 55-year-old female, and I heard that I would have a better chance of getting a job if I looked younger. I am considering having some minor surgery, and I was wondering if you think that doing so actually helps make someone more marketable.
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Our small company is in a financial squeeze, and none of us got a raise last year. Two employees have been called up in the Reserves, and management announced that the company will be making up the difference between their military pay and regular pay. I don't want to sound like an ingrate, but it doesn't seem right to give them pay for doing nothing here. Besides, we will have to do extra work while they are gone.
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We have a new employee in our professional group who is always citing or quoting some study or person. There is rarely a need for this in most of our discussions. How do we tell him?
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I manage a small department, and one of my employees is very superstitious. She seems to have a superstition for just about everything, and this is getting in the way of her work and the work of the other employees. What's the best way to approach her?
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I was in a job interview for around 15 minutes when the interviewer got up and said he would be back in a couple of minutes. Just after he left, the phone rang. I assumed the call went onto his voicemail, but when the interviewer returned, he said this was a test. The company is looking for confident and aggressive employees, and because I let the phone ring, I did not show the traits the company needs. The interview ended shortly after that. Does this make any sense to you?
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I have heard about successful people who embellished their resumes to get a job. I added office computer skills onto my resume in order to qualify for a certain job, and I got it. When my lack of computer knowledge came out, I was fired. I think this was unfair of the company. When they saw I was a good employee except for this, they could have given me some training. Do their actions seem fair to you?
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Our manager has nicknames for many of us, and all of these names are different animals. We all find this to be childish and degrading, but we are reluctant to say something because he can get very upset. Should we just live with this, or can you suggest something different?
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When one of my co-workers emphasizes a point with me, he taps me on the arm. He does this to everyone, and most people do not like it. He is a good guy and we donít want to upset him, but is there a way to get him to stop?
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When one of the managers asked me to handle a very basic chore, I emailed back that I thought his administrative assistant should do it. She has more time, and itís really more her job than mine. She saw my email and is furious with me. I ended up doing the task, and I apologized to her several times and even brought her a gift. She is still mad at me and has refused to talk to me for the past three weeks. Do you have any suggestions?
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One of my co-workers is a big gossip. She is always talking about what other people are doing or not doing. I have tried to get her to stop, and I have even told her that our manager says he wants us to focus on our work and not on gossiping. She says she is not gossiping because what she is saying is the truth. Is she right?
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