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

Selective Memory

Dear Sue: I have been employed by a small business (family owned) for four years. About ten months ago, the owner encouraged me to continue my education and offered to pay for half of my college tuition and finance the other half at no interest. I've been going to school, but have been financing the classes myself because she has never said anything again about helping me out.

I finally decided to bring it up to her and she told me that she wouldn't be able to help me out after all. Now I am not sure that I want to invest anymore time or energy working for her. I feel let down and disappointed. Is this a good enough reason to seek a job elsewhere or should I just be happy receiving a paycheck? Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. - Disappointed

Sue Says: I can understand your disappointment and am sure it is difficult for you to place much faith and trust in your employer at this time.

The first thing you should do is to talk with the owner and express your disappointment. Determine what happened and why he/she had a change of heart. It is possible that the owner expected you to clarify the arrangement up front before you enrolled, rather than asking for help long after you have been going to classes. Perhaps there was some sort of misunderstanding; is it possible that you took literally something that the owner said while 'thinking out loud', and meant that he/she would 'consider' helping you with your education if you decided to go back to school?

This may or may not be a good reason to leave your job; if you have lost all faith in your employer and cannot tolerate working there anymore, then it probably is a good time for you to leave. However, if you are simply disappointed, but basically enjoy the work you do, you may be able to get over it and maintain your employment.

Dear Sue: For several months another female employee and I endured verbal abuse and childish behavior from a new sales manager. We complained several times but no corrective action was ever taken, things escalated and this macho manager physically assaulted me. Following the assault, I have been on medical leave and suffering from depression. Human Resources moves very slowly, and I have mixed emotions about the outcome of the investigation.

I am concerned about returning to work once the investigation is over, especially if they decide to keep this manager. I do not know the fallout or experiences of others who have returned to difficult environments, and I am afraid that ultimately I will be dismissed for some petty reason because I complained. What should I do? - Hurt and Nervous

Sue Says: If it will be too stressful for you return, then don't. You are not to blame for what happened, and need to know that you did the right thing. No one has to tolerate verbal or physical abuse. If you can find a new job and make a fresh start somewhere else it will most likely be easier on you, but if you want to go back and are willing to give it a try, then do so. Whatever you do, put your needs first, and do what is best and least stressful. If others have had a similar experience, please let me hear from you and I will devote a future column to your responses.

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

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