Ask Dr. Ghada

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Q: Dear Dr. Ghada, I work in a male dominated industry, but never had any problems before. I have a new boss and two new male colleagues, so suddenly I am the only female in the department. I found myself several times in a situation to hear bad words from them while they speak and I attend. I thought they will stop and notice that it is not appropriate to speak in front of a woman in this language but it only got worse. They make dirty jokes in front of me assuming I don’t understand what they are saying; to make it all worse my boss is among them. How can I solve this problem without being rude and spoiling the work atmosphere? Please help me. Doaa, Cairo.

      A: Dear Doaa, always deal with profanities as if it is thin air. To elaborate more, for example, wait until they finish, then take two breaths (as if you count internally 1 then 2) and then speak business again. This will make a kind of echoing to their profanities. Then when repeated, speak out, that you are disappointed from what they are doing, and clear that this behavior is kind of scratching your pride. But if it is then repeated for the third time, if you have a respectful Human Resources Director, you have to raise this issue to him, as it is counted a managerial case (sexual harassment) and it is spiritually and morally meant, not physically. Also, parallel to all these trials, you have to work on applying to different reputable places, as the human resources, might not be that efficient at your workplace to take the right corrective action. In this case you do not have to insist to stay, and work on digging new professional business channels, some where else. Do not worry Doaa, about finding a new job, but what you have to worry about, is keeping your human pride and dignity and do not give chance to anyone to ever scratch it. I hope I answered your question Doaa, if you need to know more, you will find me near as a key stroke, when needed. Good Luck.


      Q: Dear Dr. Ghada, I have been working for 5 years now in the marketing department of a multi-national. My boss is a very tough woman, though we are not befriended, I am quite efficient at work. What bothers me is that I have been not promoted since I joined although I have been acknowledged to be a good employee in my appraisals and even received financial bonuses. Yet whenever there is an internal promotion, my boss gets someone from outside above me and never considers me for that vacancy. The last hire she got is younger than me and now I report to her, even though I used to handle what she does I had to handover and explain to her the work as she has never done that before. I don’t know what to do and how to make myself heard as I don’t want to leave the company and I feel unfairly treated. Safa, Cairo.

      A: Dear Doaa, as long as you sure, that you performance appraisal is above standards, what you have to do is ask your direct boss in private that you need to speak to her in person. Before this you have to be ready with a digital informative analysis to your years of experience in this marketing department. Gather your track record and register your achievements since you joined and how these served the company (saved money and time for example) to show that you went the extra mile. In addition to that take time for a self-evaluation about your work attitude and behavior among colleagues and suppliers in different aspects. Evaluate if you are the type of person that keeps confidentiality of the workplace, if you are fair to colleagues, if you gossip about others; badmouth your boss/colleagues, if you managed not to speak about your anger towards your boss with colleagues and so on. Having done so meet with your boss and speak by mentioning how much you have learnt and benefited from your boss and then move directly to your issue. Say that you have analyzed your achievements and based on the good appraisals you can’t help but wonder why you are not getting promoted. Ask why others are filling the vacancy although you are qualified for the job. Safa, the shortest way between two spots is always the straight line, avoid any unnecessary details and zigzags. It is important that while stating your case in such a managerial confrontation never ever to belittle any of your colleagues, who filled other vacancies. Never compare yourself with others. Speak clearly about the issue and do not divert from it. I hope this will be of benefit to you, Safa.

      Q: Dear Dr. Ghada, I was engaged to a colleague at work yet in another department. Now we broke off the engagement yet I don’t know how to handle this situation in a professional manner and I have no intention of leaving my job. What advise can you give me? Rania, Cairo

      A: Dear Rania, to avoid any confusion, don’t allow any mixing of personal issues with business. Limit your talk to a minimum on any personal issue. Never speak about your engagement, as long it is over, even to yourself, as it will take its right place socially and psychologically. Just believe that actions (work) talk, not intentions. Let your achievements speak out. If you are asked from a colleague about the previous broken engagement, answer that it is personal issue which you don’t want to discuss. Once you are assertive and firm, and minimize any talk about your personal life, people will eventually stop speaking about that matter. Focus on yourself, work, learn and achieve and you won’t have time to waste on the past. Action speaks not intentions and we can overcome any situation in civilized manners. I wish you all the best, Rania.

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