The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. Make sure your work life is worth that kind of investment – find out how from our advice guru.

Working It Out at Work


The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. Make sure your work life is worth that kind of investment – find out how from our advice guru.

The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. Make sure your work life is worth that kind of investment – find out how from our advice guru.Vadim Guzhva / 123RF Photo

My dear Singularians, despite our magnificent differences, have one thing in common it’s probably our devotion to our professions. For many of us, career has trumped two-by-two. While the late great Mary Tyler Moore compared her co-workers to family in the last episode of her iconic TV series, those of us who grunt and grind in the real world workplace know we can’t let it all out or expect “unconditional love” from our demanding boss. Let’s look.


Dear Marnie: My problem is my boss. She’s lazy, incompetent, and gives me orders that make me the fall guy if things don’t work out. I am a supervisor and I love my job, but her tactics are depressing. My boss never praises me, she only wants me to be her “fall guy.” I’m not the only one who feels this way. No one can stand her except the VP. We all wonder what’s going on. No one understands. — Mo in Misery.

MARNIE SAYS: Kiddo, your boss is so slick you could do a triple Lutz on her back – if she weren’t walking all over yours. You are victim of the BSU (the “Big Set-Up”). That’s her game. You need to beat her at it.

Getting It: Your Personal Strategy:

* Come on down and play “The Memo Game!” Here’s how it works:

— Request a meeting.
— Ask her to redefine your job description. Add positives she hasn’t let you do, like “motivate,” “create a positive staff corporate view” – you get it.
— When she orders you to low blow a fellow employee or do some other cover-her-B, memo her (with an FYI to the VP if you have the guts.) It would look something like this: “Per your order, I put Jones on notice. But, as we’ve agreed my role is to ‘support staff,’ I’ve created a positive strategy for him and the company. When may we meet on it?” Boom! You’ve put her “deviosity” on record, along with your esprit de “corporate” and fair play.
— Should she twirl a 180 behind your back, memo, e-mail, text and cc with an “FYI.” Note her failure to respond on your copies, nicely. Smile a lot.

* Be warned. The little sidewinder will develop a truly astounding case of the rattles because you’ve waved the one stick she fears most: accountability.  Meanwhile, your artful memos may attract someone “up there” who’ll catch on to her slithering. If not, take your power lunches with people who can network you into a corporation without a “manage-by-fang” policy.


Dear Marnie: I have been at my job for five years. If you ask any of my co- workers they’ll tell you I’m a good employee and I think my boss feels the same way, yet, I always get the rotten end of the deal. If someone’s hours need to change, it’s mine. Ditto with days off. I’d like to move up to a higher position, but so far, no luck. It’s getting harder and harder to get up in the morning to go to work. I find I’m always in a grumpy mood. What do you think I should do? — Frustrated Frannie

MARNIE SAYS: And such is the reward for the “best.” More work. Mazel Tov. Hear that high-pitched wail? Trust me. No one over voting age has ever whined his way to success. OK, maybe “The Nanny,” Melissa Rivers, and a Kardashian. But they either had talent, a VIP relative, or a bra size bigger than their I.Q. If you’re always getting the “rotten end,” you have far superior sides to show.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Look at the history. Who DO they promote? How often? Is this “use and you lose” a pattern?

* Consider creating your own opportunities at work. Come up with a better idea for your company, which of course includes an upgrade for you. Get with the boss and whip out your brief but tantalizing proposal. Show them they can squeeze greater cost-benefit from Frannie-the-Fearless, than they can from Frannie the Frustrated.

* But fair lady, idea or not, DO discuss your situation calmly with your superior(s). I’d start with … “I’m flattered I’m asked to scrub the floors (you fill it in). I would like to talk about moving up in the corporation and where I stand?” Nicely. Well, what did he/they say?

* If you get a “no” or even a “maybe” that’s said with darting eyes and no timeline before you can cash in your IRA, get a new pair of walking shoes!

* Use your dawn-time to dream up — and increase your job ops. Check into companies you’d like to work for. Even if they don’t have a current opening, try to get a human introduction. Research job listings in your area. Make your resume a thing of beauty. Google job postings in your area of interest . Get a headhunter. Call your connections, for example, former employees you trust.

Get going, poopsie. According to my watch, your coffee break is over and your Big Project is about to begin.


Dear Marnie: I really like this guy, a supervisor, I work with. But I get mixed signals. He tells me that we probably need to stop our “relationship” (we never went out) because we both work at the same place, and he is above me. I agreed, but inside, I was hurt. I like him and I think he likes me too. What should I do? Please help — Very Confused

MARNIE SAYS: You’ve obviously already done something or the fellow wouldn’t feel the need to stop that something before you’ve broken biscotti together. Remember those Doris Day films? Google her. In every other film she flew into New York City with a nickel, met the mayor at the automat, became his assistant, coincidentally shared a party line … and got the guy. But that’s a movie, not real life. His red-light, green-light is about the fear that his hindquarters will be fried by “legal” should you dish – or feel ditched. The punishment? A PC management seminar on sexual harassment – or worse.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Blame the he-letches, the over-zealous she-witches and yes …  “legal.”  But work and love – such a natural mix – has suddenly become a Molotov cocktail in the Land of the Politically Correct.

* The Wormhole. The man said you “probably” need to stop whatever it is you weren’t doing. Can you crawl through it?  Will he meet you at Java Is Us?  Yes? Good. Talk out his fear and whether you can devise a contract that protects both of you.

— No water-cooler schmoozing with each other or with anyone.   |
— No emailing weird stuff.
— No lingering looks or office smolder.
— No supply room romps.
— No deals, favors, promotions, demotions, promises, expectations – real, implied, or virtual, now or forevermore.

* Get a break-up plan, peanut.  If you split, would you be able to still memo him without adding a poison dart at the end and end up getting transferred to Bosnia?

If you two can agree to the above, he may spin “probably” into “possibility.” If not, save your ardor for one who’s free to give you the keys to his heart without quaking over losing the keys to the executive washroom.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2017 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie Winston-MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

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