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


Dear Sue: I am forty-three years old, and have made fundraising for non-profits my career for 15 years. Although I've had high ambitions on becoming a leader in my field, I find that I'm constantly stuck in mid-management level positions earning little respect and lower than desired wages. I'm tired of people feeling they can treat me disrespectfully. Consequently, I'm burned out and want to explore other career opportunities, but fear that my age may be a factor. I just started a new position as a development director a few months ago, but I'm not happy with it. I don't want to waste any more years being unhappy. How would you suggest I get started in finding something that I enjoy doing at this late stage? 

- Unhappy

Sue Says: First of all, I do not agree with you that you are in the "late stages" of your career, and I'm not convinced that your age (which is relatively young by my standards) is the problem.

It's the issue of respect -- or lack of it -- that I sense is at the root of your unhappiness. And I am not so sure that changing fields will bring you the respect (or happiness) you are seeking.

No matter what field you work in or what title you hold, people will treat you the way you expect to be treated. Once you figure out why you aren't getting the respect you deserve where you are right now, you will be in a better position to find the answers you are looking for and the happiness you seek.

Dear Sue: I'm a new employee at a new job with a new boss. My boss was promoted to supervisor last month. Like any new boss is likely to do, she's making many new changes in the department.

All of the employees who have worked here for awhile were unhappy when this woman became their new supervisor. Now all they do is sit around and criticize her for the changes she is making. I want to be able to form my own opinion of my job and my supervisor, but their negativity is getting to me and making my life miserable.

How do I go about telling them to stop all the negative comments? If they devoted as much time to their work as they did the latest gossip, the department wouldn't be in such a mess. 

- Annoyed

Sue Says: I admire you for refusing to get caught up in the gossip. As you've said, the people in your department are resisting change, and you are a part of that change because you are new. The sooner they can make you just like the rest of them, the happier they will be. Your optimism could be perceived as a threat to your coworkers.

Don't let them get the best of you. You can tune out their comments or address them head on.

Just be sure you don't sound as though you are preaching when you challenge their opinions. You have every right to form your own opinions of your job and your boss. Let your coworkers know that so far you like your new job and want to give it a fair chance. If you ask, rather than tell them to tone down the negativity you will generate a more favorable response. But don't assume that they will change -- you may have to struggle through this one alone.

Dear Sue: I'm thirty-two years old and I've worked for the same company for the last 8 years. I am going back to school to get my degree and gain more skill in computers. It will take me about 3 years to finish. I'm not very happy working here anymore and I am wondering if I should stay here until I finish school or change jobs now. What do you think? 

- T.T.

Sue Says: I suspect that sacrificing your happiness until you finish school will make the next three years pretty miserable. You already are moving in a new direction by attending school. Why not continuing moving forward by looking for another job now? You may even find one in which you will be able to apply some of your newly learned skills.

Start looking for a new job, but take your time and find something you will enjoy. Life is too short and the workday too long, to stay someplace you don't want to be.

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
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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