work habits

how can I dress professionally in horrible summer heat?

A reader writes: I’m wondering if you can help shed some light on standards of professional dress in the office. I work on a large college campus, it’s summer, it’s hot, and I have a 15-minute walk (uphill!) to my car. Everyone else in my office has a two-minute walk because parking is doled out […]

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is it okay to say “no” at work?

My mail at Ask a Manager is full of letters from people who want to say no to something their employer is asking of them, but feel that they can’t – that part of having a job is putting up with whatever’s asked of them, or that pushing back would forever taint them in their […]

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I got embarrassingly drunk at a work event

A reader writes: I’m seeking advice on how to apologize to several senior leaders in my company for my irresponsible and offensive drunken behavior at a recent work event. I had attended this event twice prior and had no such issues. This year, I put myself in a situation in which I should have stopped […]

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how can I stop my office’s “I’m sorry” culture?

A reader writes: Do you have any advice on how to stop the “I’m sorry” culture in the workplace? I’m finding my colleagues and even my manager have created an extreme case of this culture, saying they’re sorry for being out sick, sorry for asking a question, sorry for needing to leave early to pick […]

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it is okay to clip your nails at work?

A reader writes: Is it okay for folks to clip their nails in the office? In my last two cubicle-type jobs, there has been at least one person who clips their nails in the office on a regular basis. I think that practice is absolutely revolting (groom at home, people!), but other people I’ve vented […]

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can I wear a backpack with a suit?

A reader writes: I’m a woman in her 30’s and I work in an office setting for a nonprofit. I commute via train and walking, and am often carrying quite a bit with me (lunch, a book, sometimes shoes, etc.). Last year I started having some minor pain on one side of my back, and […]

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how to take feedback gracefully, without getting defensive

I’m off for Memorial Day, so here’s an older post from the archives. This was originally published in 2007 (and was one of the very first posts here!). If your manager takes the time to give you feedback, looking petulant and defensive and perhaps even outright pissed off is not a useful response. It’s not that you just […]

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what to do if you hate your job

I wrote this for LinkedIn’s Weekend Essay this weekend. If you’re miserable at work, you’re not alone. Having written Ask a Manager for more than a decade now, I’ve answered questions from literally thousands of people who hate their jobs. Whether it’s due to a difficult boss, unpleasant colleagues, mind-numbing work, or a toxic culture, […]

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