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

Too Much Fun?

Dear Sue: I am a very silly, playful person who enjoys having fun. I've just found out that these characteristics are working against me in my current profession. In a recent peer evaluation, I discovered that several of my peers think that I am not professional.

I am a very passionate, emotional person and sometimes find it difficult to fit in with other people. Is there a way for me to relate to others more professionally without giving up my personality and happiness? - Having fun

Sue Says: You say you are silly -- does this mean you don't take things seriously? You say you are playful and enjoy having fun -- is this at the expense of others? Are you having so much fun that you are not being productive?

You say you are emotional -- do your emotions control you? Do you have mood swings? Do you get mad, sad or frustrated easily?

If your answer is yes to any of my questions, you are going to need to modify your behavior. Notice the reaction you generate among others -- are they annoyed or irritated by your playfulness or are they having fun too?

There is plenty of room for fun and passion at work, but keep in mind the fact that you are in a professional environment and need to act professionally at all times. Pay attention to the people you work with, especially those in positions of authority. How do they act?

Consider asking someone you trust to help you identify what you need to work on. While you don't have to give up who you are, you may need to tone down your actions. It may feel awkward in the beginning, but modifying your behavior now will help you in your current situation and in the future.

Dear Sue: The company I work for has moved into a new building that has many amenities including an exercise room. I am trying to figure out how management views people who use the facility. Are people who exercise during their lunch hour looked at any differently than those who do not? 

- Rob

Sue Says: I don't think most managers consciously utilize an employee's exercise habits as a tool to measure a person's character or capability, but it's possible it affects their perception of that person.

Because exercise generally is viewed positively, a person who exercises demonstrates a certain amount of self-control and discipline. Workplaces that have exercise rooms are trying to make it easier for people to stay healthy, and potentially reduce stress. I doubt, however, that there is an ulterior motive or that an exercise room is used to reward or penalize those who do or do not use it.

If you want to use it, by all means do. If you prefer not to, you shouldn't worry about it. But since you are wondering, have you considered asking management the same question you have asked me? Based on the response you get, you can decide what you want to do.

I am not aware of any research that has been done on the subject, nor do I have any first hand knowledge about how management views employees who exercise before, during or after work. However, I find your question thought provoking and would love to hear from anyone with an opinion or first hand experience on the subject.
Readers, what do you think?

Dear Sue: I am the type person who likes to stay with one employer for several years, but last year I decided it was time to make a change and find something I was better suited for. I had hoped to find something I would like well enough to stay with until retirement.

Unfortunately, I ended up being hired by two different companies who misrepresented my job, my title, my duties and my pay during the interview, forcing me to quit once I realized that the job was not what I anticipated.

Now I'm afraid that I can't trust my own judgment or intuition about a prospective employer. I thought I asked all the right questions and presented myself in a very honest, upfront manner as to what I was looking for during the interview process. What else can I do to insure that what I'm being offered will be exactly what I'm going to get? 

- Disillusioned

Sue Says: Perhaps in your desire to receive a job offer, your excitement got the best of you. If you are too eager you may find it difficult to view an offer objectively.
Take your time before accepting another position, and don't let your fear of losing something cloud your judgment.

Ask for a job description (along with salary and benefits) in writing before you agree to take on a position. Having it in writing will enable you to ask questions about anything you don't understand, and can be used down the road should you find yourself disillusioned again in the future.

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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