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WORKPLACE ATTRACTION

Dr. Marie McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics. Here are her answers to three questions about jobs and working:

When a new guy joined our department last year, there was a definite attraction between the two of us. But after we had a disagreement about work, he became very cautious around me. Recently, we had to travel together on some three-day trips, and I was quite apprehensive about how things would go. Although the work went fine, I found myself acting like a silly schoolgirl and trying to sit closer to him whenever we were together. He was also sitting close, but seemed very controlled about what he said to me. Now that we are back at the office, I feel stupid about my childish actions. I sent him an e-mail to say that I enjoyed his company and hope he did not object to my behavior. But instead of feeling better, I now feel worse.

I don't know how far this "attraction" went, but at this point you need to let it go. Your co-worker is clearly signaling that the relationship has changed, so forget your past flirtation and focus on the job. When you're around your former heartthrob, simply act as you would with any other male business associate. Don't become playfully flirtatious or talk about previous romantic encounters. If you continue to behave like a mature and businesslike colleague, the whole episode will eventually recede into the past.

Treating customers with respect

I manage a gift shop. This is a wonderful place to work, but we do encounter customers with challenging personalities. My problem is that I have several employees who complain about how stupid the customers are and what dumb questions they ask. This ongoing negativity is eroding the atmosphere in what should be a warm and friendly workplace. I have tried asking everyone to be more positive, but the negativity spreads like a disease.

Relieving job stress by sharing customer stories is one thing, but trashing the very people who provide your livelihood is quite another. As a manager, you must help your employees understand the difference. Disdainful attitudes are particularly out of place in a winery, where less-sophisticated shoppers often feel ill at ease. If the staff is condescending, customers may quickly depart without buying anything. To encourage empathy, have employees recall their own interactions with aloof or haughty salespeople. Ask what could have been done to make them feel more comfortable and respected.

"Morning" people

I have a co-worker who never says "good morning." She claims she is not a morning person, but I think it's just a sorry excuse for bad behavior. I am tired of initiating the morning conversations and just plain tired of her "I'm better than you" personality.

Sorry to sound unsympathetic, but I think you're making way too much of this. If your co-worker prefers not to speak in the morning, then stop initiating interaction. When you pass her in the hall, simply flash a friendly smile and walk on by. Every workplace contains many different personality types. Some folks are gregarious and outgoing, while others are self-contained and reserved. You enjoy chatting, but your co-worker may prefer to focus on her thoughts. Unless you have other evidence of a superior attitude, don't assume that this quiet colleague thinks she's better than you. Silence does not imply arrogance. Actually, you seem to feel that speaking to people makes you the better person.

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