Thursday, September 28, 2006

Checking in....

I am sorry to be gone so long. Sometimes priorities shift. I have had family responsibilities requiring my attention lately, so I haven't been able to get to your questions.

I ask for your patience and continued presence. Please, keep checking back. I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, please know that I am thinking of you and missing you all, too.

More soon...


Please email your questions to or post them as a comment by clicking "comments" below.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Take the High Road--Always the High Road

I work for an organization that is lacking in integrity and where employees are treated very poorly. My particular boss (a supposed leader in the organization) is immature, retaliatory and volatile. I am in a leadership position and have a lot of responsibility for setting strategic direction in my area. I have a terrific team of professionals that I work with and that is the best part of my job.

I am looking for other work partly because the work environment is toxic and the people I work with, in my professional field, are the meanest group of people I've ever met. I don't feel that my professional expertise and judgment are valued or appreciated - in fact, I feel that I'm resented for the work I do.

My question has to do with my own professional integrity as I look for other work. At my level, I would expect to have a candid conversation with my director about my job search so we could do some transition planning for a significant body of work that will come up after the first of the year. However, there could possibly be some retribution if I make my wishes known or at least he could make my life a living hell.

I am torn because I care about the work I do and don't want to leave my wonderful team in the lurch. I also feel strongly about the "right thing to do." I don't want my last weeks there to be hellish, especially since I don't have an exit date. What would Wanda do???

Sounds like a great place to be leaving, even though your team is terrific. My guess is that your team is great because you are there. You bring something to that toxic, intolerable situation that no one else does. Your team is lucky to have you and will miss you, no doubt.

Your boss, on the other hand, sounds like a bully. Perhaps, if you tell him you are leaving and he starts acting out on you, you can bring his behavior to light and call him on it. That could be a great gift to the organization and to your team if he were dealt with and his harmful behavior were minimized.

Take the high road--that's what I'd do. I would check with myself and ask, "How do I need to handle this for me so that I have no regrets--no shoulda, coulda, woulda?" Bottom line I have to live with myself long after this particular job is done.

I would do what my professional ethics tell me to do and have the conversation with my director about the transition planning. I would behave as if the organization appreciated my expertise and professionalism and give them the highest level of service I would want to give to any organization. This one may not appreciate it, but if you can do that for people who don't treat you well, then the next employer who is looking for your level of professionalism will be thrilled. I would do my best to give my current employer nothing to complain about professionally.

If my life became hellish because I made the "right" decisions, I would deal with those things one at a time. Gentle confrontation can work wonders. Whenever I am in a difficult situation that requires confrontation, I do my best to maintain my highest integrity and have no regrets about what I say or do. Often with bullies, all you have to do is stand up to them and they buckle. If you need other tools, check in again.

I hope that helps. That's what I'd do.


Email your questions to or post them as "comment" below.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More BABIES!!??

Dear Wanda,

One of my oldest and dearest friends is in a dilemma and I don't know what to tell her. After years of fertility treatments she and her husband adopted a baby. Two years after that they had a biological child of their own without even trying.

Her husband always said he only wanted two kids and now he is ready to have a surgical procedure to prevent any more babies in their family. At one time she agreed on the 2 but now she isn't ready for him to make that decision permanent. She feels really strongly in her heart that she needs to try again.

She is always asking me what to do and I don't know what to tell her. I am not going to get in the middle of that one. Of course, as her friend I want to take her side, but as a parent of 2 kids myself, I totally see his point. I also understand at her age with the struggle she went through that she may still have that 'baby bug.'

What would you tell her (or not tell her)?


Glad I am done with that

Dear Glad,

Not getting in the middle sounds like a really wise decision. She is ambivalent. Her husband has been clear and continues to be clear about his position. Sounds like the two of them have some interesting discussions ahead of them. Maybe a professional could help.

I would start by saying, "I can't tell you what to do. When you ask me that, what is it that you really are wanting?" If she says, "I really want you to tell me what to do!" Then the two of you can laugh together and it might be a light spot for her. She might not even know for sure what she is wanting and asking her could help her get clearer.

Then I would say, "I can't tell you what to do. I have thought a lot about your situation and what you have gone through and wondered what I would do if I were in your shoes." Then, if she still wanted to talk about it, I might tell her what I had been thinking: "I can understand both sides of the issue. Your husband has been very clear all along that he only wants two children. For him, having another biological child isn't important. On the other hand, now that you have one of your own, having another one seems important to you. I can understand that, too. There is not one right answer here. What is important is that you and he work it out so that you come to a mutual agreement, because in the long run that will deepen your relationship."

I would go on to say, "Could you ask him not to have the surgery yet? He has been clear about what he wants, and he may remain clear. However, if you tell him you are having second thoughts and want some more time, he might be willing to process the issue with you. Could you ask him to talk to a therapist with you? This is a situation where someone who is trained in working with couples might be able to help the two of you process this difference in opinion and desire. Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe he will change his. Maybe nothing will change. Even if the latter is true, you can come to some understanding between the two of you that can help your relationship down the road."

This kind of dilemma is very important in a relationship. If they can get through it skillfully, it can bring them closer and help them understand each other, as well as increase their mutual respect. If they bumble through it and one or both of them makes a decision based on capitulation and resentment, it can destroy the relationship later if not sooner.

I would encourage her to find a way to work this through with her husband. In some regards, the decision they make is not nearly as important as working it out so that they both feel heard and respected. Hopefully, they will end up seeing eye to eye whatever decision they end up making.

That's what I'd do. I hope this helps.


Please send your questions to or post them below by clicking on "comments".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Help me, Wanda, to get motivated!

Dear Wanda, what is a good way to get motivated to do a big project that you just don't want to take the time or the energy to do?......example: painting the last 2 rooms left to paint in my house!

Good question. Interestingly enough, this is not a simple question to answer because motivation differs from one person to another. Some people are motivated by finding pleasure, some by avoiding pain or displeasure. Some are motivated by rewards (buying that CD or pair of slacks you've been wanting), some by the intrinsic value of the project ("The house will be finished!" or "Those two rooms look so much better--now I can stand to go in them!"). So the answer for Wanda very well might not be the answer for you. The question then becomes, "What motivates you?"

An issue of consideration is "How am I feeling?" If I am tired and worn, not very much could motivate me to paint two rooms of my house--not even having my mother come to visit.

Another thing to consider: "What are my priorities?" If I have vegetables to can that will spoil while I am painting, then the veggies become the priority. If I don't have any energy left after the canning, then the painting will just have to wait. I might have other deadlines to meet that will cost me late fees that I don't want to pay (pain avoidance) and that outweighs my desire to paint the rooms (search for beauty and completion). The bills become a higher priority.

But for the sake of this question, let's assume we are healthy and have some energy and that we don't have pressing needs above the painting.

You don't say whether you have kids. If this were my chore and I had kids, I would give them some paint (something that my final coat would cover) and let them have at the room. How much fun would that be? Let them paint whatever they want (remember to test this stuff so you know your final coat will cover it!) and everybody could have a good time doing it. Then...the place would be such a mess after we had had a really good time, I would be motivated to put on the finish coat and make the room look like new.


I would schedule it in my calendar. I'd make a date with myself and my paint roller. I actually like painting. More to the point, I like the finished product. I would put it in my date book and let nothing else get in the way, and I would revel in the feeling of watching the chore be accomplished...inch by lovely inch.

Either way, I'd try to make it fun.

That's what I'd do.


Email your question to or post it as a comment by clicking on "Comments" below. (Comments are welcome, too!)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'll be BACH...

...and you be Beethoven.


So, I had a very successful shopping trip. For the record, I went to IKEA and found several things I was hoping to find. Those of you who are familiar with the store know what that means--the last two days, I have been putting things together and getting stuff put away.

Please, bear with me and keep coming back. I will answer your questions. Promise.

Have a good Sunday!