Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I was fired by my boss because of constant conflict. He bullied me and said very demeaning things. I tried ignoring him, being agreeable all of the time and asking one of his friends to intervene. I even went to HR. Nothing worked.
That was more than a year ago. I’ve since landed a good job, but I can’t help thinking about all he did and said to me, which led to turmoil for me at work and at home. I’m in a position now to pay him back anonymously. I’ve thought of something I can do that is easy to implement and that no one will be able to trace. What do you think? Angry
A: Dear Angry, You probably will be for a long time. You obviously sense there may be an alternative to the course you’ve outlined.
Some people would advise you to see a counselor. I’ll stop short of that in suggesting that you turn your back on the past and move forward, a step at a time, building good relationships wherever you go. Let the dark chapter in your employment history recede awhile expending your energy positively and productively. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’m in my late 20s. My work isn’t directly related to my major in college, but there’s a progression.
I like what I’m doing. How can I tell when I’m in an entry-level position if this is the career I’ve been looking for? Hopeful
A: Dear Hopeful, Assess whether this type of work is natural for you. Can you do it almost in your sleep? Do you make decisions about your work almost automatically and discover that they’re good ones? Can you find methods to right them when they aren’t? Can you imagine yourself doing the work of people two levels above you?
What kind of people surround you in this industry? Are you comfortable with them or do you clash? Do you find it easy to speak with them?
What does the future hold for the industry? Do you see the type of work you’re doing increasing or decreasing? Is the industry expanding or contracting? Will it compensate you well as you move up? If so, and if you decide to start your own business, will there be a market for you or will your future be secure only if you remain in traditional employment? mlc
BLOG TIP: HUMOR
Nefertari Williams wasn't afraid to arrive a half-hour early for her interview and spent the time observing the people working in the family business where she was applying (nefertarinelson.com). The mother owned the business and her adult children handled the day-to-day.
Once in the office to interview, she felt welcome and comfortable. She answered a number of questions, including the standard ones, “such as where I worked last and where I attended school,” she says. “Then they asked if I was related to anyone in the business.”
Williams, towering at almost 5 feet, 10 inches, indicates that there was no missing that she’s African-American. In a roomful of Caucasians, she assented, “pointing to the very timid-looking 5-7 Caucasian man sitting across from me and said, ‘I'm his daughter. I'm sorry you had to find out this way, Dad.’ ”
Everyone laughed, including the man, who was embarrassed. “At second glance he seemed to be doing the math in his head, because he also seemed startled as if there were a possibility!” Williams quips.
The job was hers and the man became her boss. He hadn’t heard the end of it.
Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.