DEAR HARRIETTE: All of a sudden, I got really sick. I woke up one day and felt like garbage.
I had so much work to do that I went to work anyway, but then I realized that I needed to take time off to get better. I don’t ever take time off, so my boss was shocked when I said I had to go.
He let me leave, but he constantly called me for information, files or paperwork — anything he might need. It was hard for me to fulfill his requests because I had a fever and was sick. Finally, I told him I had to turn off the phone for a while so I could take a nap. He got mad at me.
Because he was so upset, I came back to work the next day. But now I’m mad. I know I deserve to take time off when I’m sick. How can I get my boss to understand this?
DEAR BOUNDARIES: Start by taking a look at your company handbook regarding sick days.
Hopefully, there is a policy in place. If so, you can refer to it when you speak to your boss. If there is not — which happens sometimes in small companies — you need to be ready to request time off for yourself, even if it is not prescribed in a formal document.
Speak to your boss. Remind him of how loyal you have been over all of the time that you have worked for the company. Tell him that you did not appreciate, however, that he was reluctant to give you time to heal when you were sick.
You jeopardized the staff by going into the office sick, and you compromised your healing by not taking time off. Next time, stay home when you are ill, and turn your phone off after calling in.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work with a group of women who are much younger than I am. Most of them have small children.
They are constantly talking about their children’s challenges and concerns, which are interesting — to a point. After hours of this banter, I’m exhausted.
I have older children. When I add my own commentary about how I handled similar situations, sometimes they appreciate it, and other times they look at me like I’m an old woman.
I could be hypersensitive here, but I don’t think so. I am not their peer, and it is obvious during these social times.
Is there anything I can do to change the conversation occasionally to more neutral ground — perhaps even work topics?
On the Outside
DEAR ON THE OUTSIDE: I wonder if there’s anything these young mothers are discussing that could be used to benefit the business?
As someone with a different perspective (since you are not of their generation), you can likely point out how the struggles they are going through might translate to the work you do. Consider what topics of discussion you may be able to suggest that could be useful for the company, for the work it does, for efficiency, etc. Ask them whether they think their experiences can translate into efficiencies for themselves and the company. That may get everyone excited.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.