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Listening

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


The credit analyst in the cubicle next to mine uses his speakerphone for most of his calls, and this is a major problem for several of us. We have asked him to use the handheld phone, and he'll do it for a day or two, and then it's back to this. I told our manager, but he didn't do anything about it. What do you suggest?
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I have an employee who keeps asking when he is going to be promoted into management. Almost every discussion with him turns to this topic. I have told him that as positions open up, we look internally for qualified individuals first, and he would be considered like everyone else. That is not good enough for him. He just keeps pestering me about this. What can I do?
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Most managers here keep their doors open unless they need privacy for meetings or phone calls. I recently hired a manager who has her door closed almost all the time. The employees who report to her are concerned, and so am I. I have discussed this with her, and she says she does not work well with outside noises and is more productive with the door closed. How can I deal with this?
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There is one person here who keeps forwarding email to warn or advise us on matters that are nothing but myths. I have checked out what she sends, and it is junk. I have shown her sites that disprove her messages, but as soon as she gets some new nonsense, she sends it. How do we get her to stop?
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I am a supervisor and I just learned that three employees in my department wrote a letter to my boss complaining about me. My boss called me in and said that he is disappointed in me as a leader. I feel the employees were wrong in what they did and what they said about me, and I tried to explain this to my boss. What do you suggest I do?
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I was conducting a meeting recently, and I asked a particular employee for his thoughts on the issue we were discussing. He responded that he was thinking about something else, and he then made some random comments. I shook my head and continued the meeting. Should I say something to him?
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The assistant to the chairman of a company complained to our company president that I had not returned any of her calls. Our president played her message and told me that he is about to fire me for not returning her calls. But I did return her calls through another individual, just as I was instructed to do. Anyway, I resigned. I am just curious on your thoughts on his action to terminate an employee over a phone call.
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My job calls for considerable air travel, and I have some fairly extensive trips that I should make over the next few weeks. The problem is that I really don't want to fly for a while. I have done some teleconferencing, but I should get back on the road. How do I deal with this?
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I recently received my salary increase and it was much lower than I expected. In doing some research, it seems my manager lied to me about the average increase in the district as well as on other items. How do I confront my manager that she is a liar or at least dispensing misleading information to me?
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I just interviewed a candidate with a good background for a telemarketing position in our company. The only problem was that he kept turning his answers into questions for me, and I don't feel I got enough information from him. I encouraged him to hold his questions, but that did not deter him. What should I do from here?
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One of my friends was having a hard time in his job, and I encouraged him to go into sales. He found a sales position with a company in our industry, and now he wants me to buy their products. We are satisfied with our current supplier, and we don't need his. In light of the circumstances, I feel strange saying "no" to him, and I wonder what you suggest.
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I have a new subordinate in training who interrupts me and asks questions about the very thing that, had she waited, would have been explained to her. When I am speaking with other employees, she will interrupt. I have tried talking over her, but she speaks louder and louder and will not stop. When I am quietly working, she will blurt out statements to me from across the room. Help!
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We recently hired an individual with a considerable amount of experience in our field. The only problem is that he keeps using techniques from his previous job, and they are creating some difficulties for the rest of the staff. I have talked to him about this, and he says that he will try to change, but he hasn't. What can you suggest?
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My manager recently finished reading a business book and told me that it made him a better manager and better person. He told me to read it and we'll discuss why it's so important. Well, I read it and I think it's contrived and simplistic. What do I say to him?
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The company president asked several of us for our opinion on a technical business matter, and he requested a written analysis from each of us. I took his request seriously and wrote a detailed summary, but I never heard one word back. Should I ask him what happened or just wait?
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One of the ladies I work with is a sweet, cheerful person, and I really like her. However, she is always singing or humming in a high-pitched voice and it drives me nuts! I don't know how to tactfully ask her to stop. I have told both my supervisor and the office manager that it is annoying, but they seem to feel it is a small matter.
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My manager and I are miles apart on political issues, and we have had some heated discussions over the past few months. We have fundamentally different opinions, and I am concerned that this is going to interfere with his assessment of me. If he opens a subject, I cannot sit in silence. What do you suggest?
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On several occasions, I suggested a better way to do a certain project here. My manager nodded and seemed to hear me, but that was it. Now I hear that the project is going to be done the way I suggested, and not one word has been said to me. I want to say something, but maybe I shouldn't. What do you think?
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We are getting a new boss in 2 weeks. I am wondering if there are any tips that can help me make a better first impression on him.
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I work on the sales floor, and I had an excellent record here until a problem occurred with a very difficult customer last week. He was nasty and insulting, and I was not very nice in response. He wrote a letter to my manager and to the owner of the company complaining about me, and my manager read the riot act to me. Does this seem fair?
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I just hired a new employee in my department. He is starting in two weeks, he just told me he doesn't like his name, and he prefers to be called by his nickname. The problem is that his nickname sounds ridiculous, and I'll feel like a fool when I introduce him to everyone else. Do you think it's okay if I tell him I prefer to use his real name?
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As part of my job as a supervisor, I am supposed to discipline employees for breaking the rules and committing other infractions at work. I do not like confrontations, and this aspect of the job has me worried. What are the ways to discipline employees without having a confrontation?
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My manager likes to show off his vocabulary, but he tends to use words that are slightly wrong. For example, he will talk about an abysmal failure, but he will say "abusmal" failure. He does this with many words, and all of us are reluctant to say anything since he is our boss. What can we say to him?
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Our company backs its managers 100%, whether they are right or wrong. There are no checks and balances to see if a department needs attention by someone in senior management. What can an employee do about this?
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My working relationship with my manager is positive, but I have a problem with one of the other managers. He keeps criticizing me, and his comments are wrong and without any facts. He will not listen to me, and when I told my own manager about this, he said I should work it out on my own. How can I do this?
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I am not in marketing, but I came up with an idea that could help market our company's products. When I mentioned it at the end of a department meeting, my manager said I should worry about my own work and stay out of the business of other departments. How do you deal with this type of management style?
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I manage a department of twelve people, and three of them wrote a letter to my manager saying I insist on having everything done my way. That is not true, but my manager believed everything they wrote and came down hard on me. What should I do?
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I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position who talked for almost the entire interview. He was articulate and had plenty of stories, and he has the gift of gab. The other managers who interviewed him were impressed, but I was not because he did not know when to stop talking. What's your take on this?
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My sales manager usually takes one day every month to ride around with me when I call on my customers. I want to talk with him about my presentations, but he is on his cell phone almost the entire time in the car. He tells me he is too busy to talk to me during these rides. What do you suggest?
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I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position, and I was not impressed. He talked almost the whole time and never knew when to stop. A few other people here also interviewed him, and they want to hire him. They say he has the gift of gab and that's exactly what is needed in a good salesperson. I don't think they are correct. Do you?
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My manager makes cruel and degrading comments about me in front of other employees and even outsiders, and my work does not merit negative feedback at all. When I jump back to defend myself, he does not listen and just criticizes more. What do you suggest I do?
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My manager stops by my office regularly, and I give him updates on my projects and on anything else he needs to know. He says he'll get back to me, but he does not take action on what I say, and sometimes it seems he doesn't even remember what we talk about. I don't want to tell him how to manage. What do you suggest?
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My manager is an avid reader of books and articles by one popular management guru, and he keeps sending us almost everything this guy writes. I think the guru's work is simple and useless, and I cannot read another word of it. My manager keeps asking us about it, and I fear telling him the truth. Do I just go along with this, or is there something I can do?
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Our manager reads a great deal about management and knows a lot about it, but he applies none of it. He is inaccessible, over-controlling, and a poor listener, and he often ignores company procedures. How can we get him to use more of what he knows?
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I am a new manager here, and I was just informed that I am supposed to meet with my employees to discuss the goals that they have set for themselves for the coming year. I do not believe in this process. I am the one who sets goals for my employees because I know what is best for the company, while the employees are out for themselves. How can I get this point across?
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I work in a family business owned by my cousin. He is so concerned about avoiding favoritism that he basically avoids me. Whenever I try to discuss work situations or make a suggestion, he says he cannot get involved because I am family. How can I get him to listen?
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I took a few days off around the holidays, and I asked my assistant to give me a call if any problems arose. However, when one arose, she contacted my manager and turned a minor issue into a crisis. Now my manager is upset with me. If my assistant had simply called me, none of this would have occurred. What's the best way to deal with her?
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One of the people I work with makes himself the center of everything that's discussed. He shrugs off what we say, but we are expected to listen as he talks endlessly about himself. How do we change this?
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Over the last few months, my supervisor has told me several times that I have a bad attitude. I disagree with this, and when I try to explain, she does not listen. The incidents that she uses as examples are totally out of context. How should I deal with this?
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One of the more vocal employees who work for me complained about me to my manager. He said I am a dictator, and morale is terrible. My manager read the riot act to me. When I tried to defend myself, he would not listen. Some of the other employees got wind of this and told my manager I am doing a good job and not to listen to the complainer. Since then, I have heard nothing from my manager. Should I let it go or say something?
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How do you deal with an employee who keeps saying, "You should have listened to me" every time I make a decision that does not turn out well. I listen to my employees, and I try to make the best decision at the time. How should I deal with him?
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My manager stops by my office regularly, and I give him updates on my projects and on anything else he needs to know. He says he'll get back to me, but he does not take action on what I say, and sometimes it seems he doesn't even remember what we talk about. I don't want to tell him how to manage. What do you suggest?
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The owner of our company has an open-door policy, but whenever any of us meet with him, he doesn't listen. He is friendly, but he always has a reason for doing things his way. Is there a way to change this?
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I just lost a great opportunity at work because the company changed a program that would have been assigned to me. When I mentioned my disappointment to my manager, he ignored me and started talking about a great new project that opened up for him. I got very quiet, and he said he was disappointed I wasn't excited for him. What do I say?
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Our manager makes all sorts of mean comments to us. Whenever we voice any complaints or suggestions, his response is that if we don't like working here, there are ten people who will gladly take our job. That is the end of the discussion. How do we deal with someone like this?
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My manager gave me a brief assignment and I completed it on time and correctly, but he tore into me and criticized the work up and down. I showed him in black and white that he was wrong, and then he said he did not care. He has not talked to me since and it's been a few days. What do I do now?
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Whenever my manager gives me an assignment, he repeats it several times. For example, we will have a meeting to discuss an assignment, and he will send me an email about it, and then a voicemail and perhaps a memo. How can I tell him that I do not need all of these instructions?
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One of our better sales reps suggested we interview an acquaintance of his for an important sales position. Several of us met with this applicant individually, and then we all went to dinner with him. In both meetings, I found him to be loud, opinionated, and hardly listening, but everyone else thought he was great. They all said this guy is a born salesman. I have real doubts. What can I do?
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My manager prides himself on his ability to coach, but his coaching style is to give us a lecture when we make a mistake. He is knowledgeable, but I donít think I can handle any more lectures. Do you have any suggestions?
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I have an employee who has a poor attitude. He does not show much enthusiasm or interest in his work or in the company, and everything about him seems to say, ďI donít care.Ē He is the only one in the department with this attitude. How do I express my dissatisfaction to him and not face a wall of defensiveness?
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I told another manager a piece of confidential information that required his input. I said the information cannot go any further, and he agreed. Later that day, another employee approached me and asked about this very matter. She said she heard about it from someone who is friends with the manager that I originally told. Should I go back to him and express my concern, or should I never tell him anything confidential again?
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A year ago, my manager told me that when a position opened up, I would be promoted. When there was an opening last month, the promotion went to one of my co-workers. I asked my manager about this, and he said he did not remember having offered anything to me. Then he said when the next position opens up, I am in line to get it. Some of my friends told me to get this in writing, but Iím concerned about how my manager might react. What do you think?
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I have two employees in my department who have not been performing well, and I gave both of them poor evaluations. They got together and complained to my manager. He believed everything they said, and he called me in and criticized me. What should I do now?
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Iím fairly new here, and I just gave my manager a suggestion that would help our department run better. He said that my suggestion has been tried before and it did not work, and I should be focusing on learning my job and performing well, rather than trying to make changes. I am annoyed with his comment, and I am wondering what to do.
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My manager sends me emails several times a day, and he is usually seeking information on the status of projects or on problems that have arisen. I write thorough answers to his questions, but his responses indicate that he doesnít read what I send. Instead, he just gets upset with me. What should I do?
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When I walk into my managerís office, he stands up. I know this is polite, but it makes me feel uncomfortable. He rarely sits down when I am there, and this cuts our conversations short. I donít think I should just take a seat, but maybe then he would get the hint. What do you think?
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There is an employee in another department who enjoys giving me his advice on my work. He does not know much about the details of what I do, but that does not stop him from making useless comments. Iíve been polite and thanked him, but Iím getting annoyed and want him to stop, but I donít know how.
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I work closely with four people who report to me, and I am having a problem with one. He makes commitments, but if things do not go as planned, he claims that he never made any commitments. He keeps changing his story, and Iím trying to figure out how to deal with him.
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Although I am pleased with all five employees who report to me, three other managers on separate occasions have said that one of my employees is rude and nasty. I have never seen this side of her personality, and I donít think it is right to give her feedback based on hearsay. However, I donít want to ignore the other managers. How should I approach this?
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How do you deal with a boss who always has to have the last word in email? If I think I am right on a particular matter, and I can prove it, even that does not stop him. He always has to come back at me with something. Is there a way to change him, or do I just have to live with this?
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I cannot get my managerís attention. When I meet in his office, he is on his Bluetooth and using his computer. If itís not that, he is taking phone calls and even talking with people who drop by his office. What can I do to have an actual conversation with him?
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I am a supervisor, and sometimes I am a total jerk to my team. Many of my team members do not understand the immense pressure Iím under. It makes me a jerk when they do not do what I ask, or donít do it my way. I take their ideas into consideration, give credit when due, and incorporate their ideas, but I still come off as the jerk when I do this. The result is that people quit, or they just do what they need to do because they are afraid of me. Do I play the nice guy and under-perform, or be the jerk and keep up the success achieved so far? How do I fix this and avoid becoming the person everybody hates?
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Today, my manager ripped me to shreds in front of an employee that I supervise and had to reprimand for taking long breaks, an issue which my manager recently addressed with the whole dept. After I spoke to the employee (as gently as possible), he ran to my supervisor describing my "abrasive and accusing" remarks. My manager believes every word out of my employees mouth and then acts on these descriptions. This employee has, for several months, been "getting in the ear" of my supervisor telling him things that are going on within the department that are exaggerations and misrepresentations of the truth. He has effectively manipulated my supervisor against me. Somehow, I'm now the mean, rotten supervisor while my employee is viewed as the innocent victim. I am being sent to management training now because, as he stated in front of my employee "my management technique stinks". I would welcome the training more if it didn't seem like a punishment based on the "stories" of my employee. This employee seems to have my supervisor wrapped around his little finger and I've noticed strong favoritism. The beating and humiliation I took today is too much. My manager is far better equipped for confrontation than me. I am a mild-mannered and easy going manager and I have good, friendly work relationships with 99.9% of people in the building and, for 16 years, I've delivered and got things done well. My manager, who I recently found myself under due to a shuffle of departments, has a lot of management training and effectively backed me into an embarrassing and humiliating corner(all in front of my employee). I plan on trying to call a meeting with upper management to address what happened first thing tomorrow morning. This will undoubtedly enrage my manager and I expect things could get worse. My main complaint is that my manager ripped me to shreds in front of the employee I was trying to reprimand. All I said to my employee was "You took a half hour break today. Please keep it down to 15 minutes as company policy states." That's when he ran to my manager and all heck broke loose. I'll take any advice or words of wisdom you can offer. Thank you very much for your time!
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At a recent meeting, management used some words that I thought were questionable as they might have a negative impact on staff members. Words and phrases such as "gives a reason for people to snitch on others", "I hope future meetings won't result in violent arguments", and "one person complained and HE doesn't think it's fair" lead me to think that such language will make staff members feel intimidated from raising issues in fear of being called a "snitch" or that dissension amongst staff may rise now that the idea that there is a "snitch" has been implied. Also, it may create a sense of fear that violence is a potential issue at work between employees and that people that have raised concerns in private are now being identified openly by pointing out key characteristics. Is there an issue to be had with the type of vocabulary management is using?
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Can my boss come up to me and tell me that she has received complaints about me, and when I ask who from, she says she can't tell me. I only want to know who from so I can change this behaviour.
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