Dear Readers: This week I'm running "Best Of" columns while on tour meeting readers of my memoir, "Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things." Today's topic: workplace issues.
Dear Amy: I recently started working for a new company in a male-dominated field.
On certain e-mails sent to large groups of co-workers, I've noticed that my colleagues address the e-mail to "Gentlemen."
There are clearly at least two females cc'd on most of these e-mails.
I feel as if the e-mails are not addressed to me; I believe it is old-fashioned and offensive. Do you have thoughts on how to address this — without ruffling feathers or coming off the wrong way?
Amy says: When composing a professional group e-mail, the writer needs to imagine the intended recipients gathered together in a conference room.
It is not professional (or polite) to address a group of colleagues — where at least one is a woman — as "Gentlemen."
One option is to compose a group e-mail to your colleagues with the salutation: "Ladies." But you and I know that you probably cannot do this.
Alternatively, perhaps you could send out a group e-mail to your work group with the subject line, "A Quick Suggestion."
In the body of the e-mail you could write: "It would be helpful (certainly to me) if we could address e-mails to our working group as 'Colleagues' or a similar gender-neutral term. I don't speak for the other women in our group, but when I am included on e-mails addressed to 'Gentlemen,' I'm sometimes unsure if they are intended for me."
If you are not willing or able to do this, you could ask your supervisor or HR representative for suggestions on how to handle this salutation situation. This is not the biggest (or the most sexist) issue you will encounter, but you should react honestly. May 2015
Dear Amy: I started a new job four years ago and within a couple of weeks began to develop feelings for my supervisor.
Over the years we have gotten to know each other well. We are similar in temperament and personality. I am very attracted to him and I have sensed all this time that the feeling is mutual; there's clearly a "connection" between us.
Besides the fact that he is my supervisor, we are also both married. For four years I have attempted to ignore, cover up, rationalize and remove my feelings from my heart and mind. Obviously there is no future for us, and I can't figure out why I can't just accept the attraction and move on.
I'm in my mid-40s, too old for this! Sometimes it feels like I'm keeping a secret that has power over me, and if I could just share the secret with him it would defuse the power. But I realize that would endanger my job and my reputation, so I immediately put that thought out of my mind.
How can I work out these feelings? Honestly, it's become exhausting. Is leaving my job the only way?
My husband is a good man. He is hardworking, smart and he loves me deeply. I hope you can provide some insight into how to control my mind and feelings while working for this wonderful man whom I admire and adore.
Amy says: Having a great spouse doesn't make you blind. And most people continue to feel attractions to people other than their partners throughout their lives. Mainly, this is relatively benign and even life-affirming. But the key to how you are feeling now is to be found in your marriage and your inner life. You are at a midlife transition and you can grow through it.
I give you credit for not blaming your husband for this or inventing faults to justify your feelings. This is an opportunity, really, to reassess your life (personal and professional).
Please, find a counselor to share this with before you do anything drastic. I agree with you that sharing this secret may diminish its power, but you need to share it with the right person. April 2013
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