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

Jealous Coworkers

Dear Sue: I work in a small office. I am female and most of the women I work with are older than I am. In the five years I've worked here I've moved up within the company rather quickly. Although the promotions have been good for my career, it has created problems with my coworkers.

A number of women have created and spread rumors about me. They think that I've slept my way up the ladder of success.

When I was their customer service supervisor, they went to my boss to complain about me. None of their complaints were anything about me professionally, just personally.

Fortunately I am out of that position, but the gossip still continues. I don't know how to change their opinion of me. What do you suggest? 

- Hurt

Sue Says: Based on the information you've given me, these women sound petty and jealous. Perhaps they are disappointed with their own careers and aren't able to be happy for anyone who may be achieving more than they have. I can only assume that it's much easier for them to focus on you than it is to focus on their own shortcomings.

Who is telling you about the things being said? If the comments are destructive and serve no purpose, there is no reason they should be repeated to you. Consider telling your source that you are open to constructive criticism, but see no reason to be informed about the destructive comments and rumors that are being circulated.

Although it may be futile, you might try talking to these women directly. Perhaps when they are aware that you know what they are saying and are hurt by it, they will stop.

If not, these women can talk all they want, but it doesn't seem to be getting in your way, so work on ignoring the comments and continue to be the professional person you say you are.

Dear Sue: I own a daycare and I enjoy it, but the parents of the children I care for are so comfortable with me that they never pick their children up on time. I've addressed this matter in a letter to every parent, but nothing changes until I threaten that I will charge extra for late pick up. I can't seem to make myself charge the parents, so the problem continues. What should I do? 

- Betty

Sue Says: It appears as though the parents are going to be motivated to pick their children up on time if and when you start charging them. Write another letter. State your new policy (effective immediately) and the fee for each additional minute a child is left with you beyond the designated pick up time. Then submit a bill for the extended daycare provided.

It sounds as though you have a nice relationship with the parents you provide daycare for, but don't ruin it by forgetting that you are providing a valued service and that you are running a business. Every business charges for its services and you should too.

Dear Sue: I am a self-employed house cleaner. I enjoy doing extra things for my customers. The problem is that some of my clients take full advantage of this and now expect more and more to be done. Some of my clients are demanding and I am getting frustrated.

I could raise my prices, but I'm not sure that is the answer. Do you have any suggestions? 

- House cleaner

Sue Says: Continue to do the extra things you enjoy doing for your customers. When you feel a customer is demanding or asking you to do more than you can in the allotted time, say something. Let them know what you feel you can do in the allotted time, and that in order to do more you either have to stay later (and charge for it) or forgo doing something else. Unless you let your customers know your limits, they are likely to continue to push them.

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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