Dear Readers: This week I am running topical “Best Of” columns while I’m on book tour, meeting readers of my memoir, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things,” which is now out in paperback. I’ll be back next week with more answers and advice directed toward a fresh batch of dilemmas. Today’s topic concerns issues in the workplace.
Dear Amy: I recently started working for a new company in a pretty heavily male-dominated field.
On certain emails sent to large groups of co-workers, I’ve noticed that my colleagues address the email to “Gentlemen.”
There are clearly at least two females cc’d on most of these emails.
I feel as though the emails are not addressed to me with this greeting; I believe that it is old-fashioned and offensive. Do you have thoughts on how to address this – without ruffling feathers or coming off the wrong way?
Dear No: When composing a professional group email, 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 for you now is to compose a group email addressed to your colleagues with the salutation: “Ladies.”
Ah, but you and I know that you probably cannot do this.
Alternatively, perhaps you could send out a group email to your work group with the subject line, “A Quick Suggestion.”
In the body of the email you could write: “It would be helpful (certainly to me) if we could address emails 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 emails addressed to ‘Gentlemen,’ I’m sometimes unsure if they are intended for me.”
If you are not willing to do this – or are unable to – because of your position, 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 push down, ignore, cover up, rationalize and in every other way tried to 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 diffuse 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.
Dear Conflicted: 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.
For insight, read “The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis Is Transforming Today’s Women,” by Sue Shellenbarger (2005, Henry Holt and Co.). – April 2013
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.