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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Dealing with an Angry Supervisor

Dear Sue: I have a supervisor who is a very unhappy person. She is angry almost all the time and takes her unhappiness out on everyone. Everyone is afraid of her and tries to avoid her. Unfortunately for me, there is no way I can avoid her because I sit right in front of her. It is getting so bad for me that I am beginning to hate my job. Just seeing her come in makes me upset. She always finds something wrong and never gives a pat on back for anything.

I went over her head and talked to her boss, but he just encouraged me to accept her the way she is. Even though she treats everyone the same way, I take it to the heart. I tried to get transferred but didn't succeed. I also tried looking for another job, but so far haven't had any luck. Have you ever heard of this type of problem?

- Looking for a way out

Sue Says: I hear about negative people all the time. The affect they have on others is powerful, yet these people often have no idea how deeply their behavior impacts their coworkers - unless someone tells them.

The fact that this supervisor treats everyone the same way should help you to realize that her actions are strictly about her and have nothing to do with you. Yet for some reason you allow yourself to be affected by her.

If you haven't tried talking with her directly, consider doing so. You really have nothing to lose. If you approach the subject with the intent to "inform" rather than "accuse", you have better chance of reaching her.

Speak in terms of "I", rather than "you". In other words, saying "I may be sensitive, but when you yell and get mad, I take it personally", will be more constructive than saying, "You are always so angry that you are making me want to leave and look for work elsewhere."

I can assure you that wherever you work you are bound to encounter people like this woman. Use this as an opportunity to work on changing yourself and your reaction to negative people rather than running away from them. Let me know what happens and good luck.

Dear Sue: I am considering working with a recruiter and am wondering how to go about finding the right person to work with. I would also like to know how the relationship usually works and who pays the fees. Can you provide me with any information?

- Need information

Sue Says: It use to be that job seekers would sign up with a recruiter (or more than one) to gain help in securing employment. The hiring employer would sometimes pay the fee but, quite often, the candidate would sign a contract agreeing to pay the fee.

Today, recruiters are hired (or engaged) by an employer to fill a specific position. The position specifications usually are rather specific regarding experience, industry and education. The recruiter's role is to find a person to fill the specifications, said David Magy, an executive recruiter with Abeln, Magy and Associates in Minneapolis.

Whether you are an individual job seeker or a company seeking to fill a position, finding a high quality recruiter is of the utmost importance. The recruiter will represent you to others - and you want someone that you can trust. Confidentiality and communications are key to a good recruiter relationship. There are directories that list recruiters by geographic location, industry and functional expertise (Kennedy Publications prints "The Directory of Executive Recruiters" annually).

Magy also suggests asking other job seekers who they have worked with. You may even wish to contact your target employers and ask them for the names of recruiters that they would recommend (plus, this is another direct contact with an employer you want to work for).

As an employer, you will want to get referrals from your network of business contacts. In either case, take the time to get background information from the recruiter. Ask for references and check them. If you engage a recruiter in any way, clarify exactly what they will be doing and how they will be doing it. Whether you are a job seeker or an employer, you want to have control over the process.

It is never a bad idea to make friends with a recruiter. Even if they do not have the appropriate opening for you, a good network (including recruiters) continues to be the number one way in which people find positions in today's job market.

Dear Sue: I lost my job because my manager lied about me. I went to personal for help, but didn't get any. I went to the department of human rights, but didn't get any help there either.

I am working at a temporary job, and am very unhappy about what has happened. I feel I have a good case but don't want to have to hire an attorney to fight this out.

I am out a job (which I believe is unfair termination), have not had any help from state agencies and am struggling. What should I do?

- Betrayed

Sue Says: You need to move forward. I can totally understand your frustration and feelings of betrayal, but you already have invested enough time and energy rehashing what has happened without the results you are looking for.

Even though you say your manager lied about you, it may be difficult to prove. Since you haven't had the responses you desire and you don't want to hire an attorney, the only thing left for you to do is to chalk it up to a bad experience and find a new job. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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