work habits

should I avoid softening my emails with qualifying language?

A reader writes: I am curious about your thoughts on using qualifiers (“I think,” “I believe,” “it seems to me,” etc.) in work emails. I’m a woman in my mid-20s working in grants administration at a nonprofit. I often catch myself writing sentences like “I think the next steps here are…” rather than “The next […]

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do I respond to emails too quickly?

A reader writes: I’ve always found it easy to focus, keep my work and my time organized and switch between tasks without losing track of what I’m doing. I like to keep my email inbox neat and use it as an organizational system, so whenever an email comes in, I typically stop what I’m doing […]

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am I an underachiever?

A reader writes: I am in my late 20s and have been working professionally for about four years, plus a handful of co-ops/internships during my education. I work in a field that’s known for attracting overachiever types, and also for somewhat poor/outdated working environments that are stressful on employees and tend to result in burnout […]

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are people judging me for looking scruffy at work?

A reader writes: I have two bachelor degrees, am in my mid-50s, and work in the public sector. The money isn’t great but I enjoy what I do. I recently heard someone mention that their boss dressed “poorly” and had grey hair, while they themselves “dressed like a professional woman who made X amount should.” […]

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I’m struggling with working at home during COVID-19

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. This week, it’s two questions on the same theme. A reader writes: What suggestions and recommendations do you have on staying productive and proactive while working from home with COVID stress? To give context, I’m incredibly fortunate to work for a company that has remained profitable and revenue […]

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I like to give small gifts at work — am I doing anything wrong?

A reader writes: I have a question about gift-giving at work. I agree with the idea overall that gifts should flow downward. That said, I’m the type of person that sometimes shows appreciation by giving someone something small. I suppose you could say my “love language” is gift-giving. I never feel pressured to give a […]

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should I tell my boss about my anxieties from past dysfunctional jobs?

A reader writes: I worked for a professional services firm for 10+ years, finally leaving a couple years ago. I’ll spare you the nuances, but there were relatively frequent terminations. For perspective, my department that generally had 5-8 people had 11 terminations in a 7-year span. For those of us who were generally well performing, […]

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am I being unprofessional on video calls?

A reader writes: A little over a year ago, I started to work for a government agency in a very niche field. I started this job straight out of grad school, and there was certainly an adjustment period going from academia to an office job. Since starting, I feel like I have more than adjusted […]

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how can I become more self-aware and not be a jerk at work?

In response to the letter earlier this week from someone who had behaved badly at work and seemed to be avoiding responsibility, a reader asked this: What advice do you have from preventing this kind of personality from developing in the first place? I’m a year out from college (2019 grad) and have been working for […]

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