Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Woman's Helping Hand at Work Comes Across as Interference

DEAR ABBY: It has recently come to my attention that at work I am considered "bossy." It came as a shock to me. I'm hurt that my co-workers and department manager think of me this way.

I know I come on strong sometimes when it comes to helping customers, but I view it as helping. When I suggest to co-workers that they keep their areas clean and orderly, it is perceived as bossy. I'm just trying to help them not get fired for slacking off.

I'm older than some of my co-workers and my manager. I tried for the manager position, and was initially angry when someone else got it. But now I see she does a good job, and I respect her. It seems, however, that my actions have sent the wrong message. What can I do to mend fences? Or, should I just forget about it and look for something else? -- MISJUDGED IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR MISJUDGED: No, you should apologize to anyone you might have offended. And, as well-intentioned as you are, in the future resist the urge to correct your fellow employees. Your job is to be part of a team, not a scolding schoolmarm. Sometimes it's how you say something, not necessarily what was said, that's the problem.