Monthly Archives: October 2007

I work in a mainly male dominated environment; when I attend the weekly
management meeting with my peers (I am the only female) my colleagues assume
that it is my responsibility to ensure that the Minutes and Agenda are
printed and circulated in advance of the meeting (when the PA is on
holiday/ill) or ask me where the documents are if they are late arriving – I
think this may be because I am the only female within the group. How do I
rebuff such requests without sounding like a "jobsworth" – whilst keeping my
reputation in tact?

- Commercial Manager, female, 39

I am a journalist working in a large media group. I have just received a very friendly message from the chairman (whom I have only met once) asking me if his nephew can do work experience with me for a week.

I’m not at all keen, partly because it is extra work having to take a teenager to press conferences, but also because I don’t want this kid reporting back on how I am doing. However, it might be mad to say No. Ours is an organisation that lurches from one crisis to another and we all live in constant fear of redundancy. Surely no one fires someone who has just done their nephew a good turn?

Journalist, male, 36

My wife and I are due to buy dinner for a client on Saturday night, by way of thanks for a stay in France. We have a booking at a top London restaurant – but it coincides with the Rugby World Cup final. I think England’s remarkable progress in this tournament is worth witnessing to the end – a view not shared by my client or our respective wives. I wanted to delay the booking, but my pregnant wife vetoed this as too late. It is the story of my life to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is this destined to be another example, or is there a polite way for me to extricate myself and watch the final?
Male, company director, 43

I work for a large, multinational organisation and my team employs a placement student every year. Our new student joined us in August this year and it has become very obvious that her thumb-sucking is more than a few private moments of "self-soothing". She sucks her thumb during meetings and at her desk. She also sucks her thumb at the lunch table. I find it very hard to take her seriously, but not only that, I feel that the personal hygiene aspect is making it difficult for me to work with her; most recently, when handing me some work, I got treated to a wet thumb on my hand. Can I say something or am I being unreasonable, as most people have personal traits and habits?

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I work closely with someone I think is less able than I am and a lot lazier. In the past I’ve wondered if I should point this out to my manager, but have decided not to as I like my workmate and don’t see what is to be gained by making a fuss. However, by mistake I have just opened a payslip that I thought was mine but was his. It turns out that he earns nearly 30 per cent more than I do. I now feel furious and want to do something. If I tell my boss that I know I am paid less than my colleague he will tell me to mind my own business. How can I get more money and recognition without looking like a creep and a spy?
Analyst, male, 31

Dear Lucy

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.