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

Working for a Control Freak

Dear Sue: I work for someone who is impossible to please. She blows up easily, and is a control freak. Her demands are relentless and unrealistic. She expects miracles, and stresses out everyone around her. Because she is so intense, it is impossible to approach her, and we end up suffering as a result. What are our options? - Suffering

Sue Says: Your only option, other than quitting your job or seeking a transferring to another department, is to talk with her. As uncomfortable as it will be, you need to do something unless you are willing to continue to work under these stressful circumstances. Although it will be uncomfortable for you, if you take some time to think about your approach and plan what you want to say, you have a greater chance of reaching her.

You don't want to blame her or create more stress for yourself. Perhaps you can let her know that you all work very hard to please her and want to make her job easier, but are having a difficult time because of the intense environment and feel as though nothing you do is satisfactory. Perhaps you can ask her if there is anything you can do to help alleviate some of the stress you all (including her) feel.

There is a good chance you may feel worse as a result of your talk, but also a chance you can reach her. However, unless you are willing to do something, and stand up for what you need, you surely won't see any changes made. If you still cannot open the doors of communication and she becomes worse or stays the same, then you will need to talk with someone else. I realize it is tough, and may add some additional stress initially, but if you do nothing, nothing will change.

Dear Sue: My boss, who is loved by everyone, has approached me inappropriately when we were away on business. This is the first time he has ever done anything inappropriate, and I was shocked. I refused his advances, and he has been distant and cool toward me ever since. I am afraid that no one will believe me if I say something, and don't want to make the situation any worse. Meanwhile, working with him has become very uncomfortable. What should I do? - Uncomfortable

Sue Says: You have not done anything wrong - your boss has. You aren't the only one who is uncomfortable - there is a good chance your boss is as well, which explains his distant and cool behavior toward you.

Unwanted sexual advances are not something you have to tolerate. You need to say something to him and possibly to his supervisor or someone in human resources as well. It sounds as though he understood that you are not willing to cross the line with him, since he has not approached you again, so perhaps talking with him about the discomfort you feel as a result may help. However, if you are too uncomfortable to speak to him directly, you have every right to go above his head. Keep in mind, that he is the one in the wrong, and in the long run can cause serious problems for himself and the company if this type of behavior continues. Do yourself and other potential victims a favor and speak up.

Dear Sue: I am out of work and have not found a job yet. I am bored and feel as though my talents are wasting away. What can I do to increase my chances of finding work and decrease my boredom during this transition? - Bored

Sue Says: Treat looking for a job like a job. Make lunch dates and network with as many people as you can. Get up and get dressed everyday, and find some reason to get out of the house each day. Consider volunteering somewhere to help pass the time and to keep active. Perhaps others who have been in your position have additional advice and will write; I will be happy to print the response I receive.

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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