DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a school administrator with a very busy schedule. My assistant is what my mother used to call an "eager beaver." He is always asking me a thousand questions, but also he likes to chitchat. Every morning before anything else happens, he wants to talk about what he did the night before. Sometimes I can do that, and I comply because I know it makes him happy. But other times we have to get to work right away. I get that people operate differently. What makes one tick may not be the same as others. How can I teach my assistant to do his job even when it means he can't have his desires instantly satisfied? -- Getting Frustrated, Jersey City, New Jersey
DEAR GETTING FRUSTRATED: You are right that people respond to different cues. It is wise for you to have noticed that your assistant appreciates personal interaction before starting his day. That you offer it when you can is smart. It is also important for you to teach him about priorities and the rules of your office. You can be straightforward with him and tell him that you want to review how to manage your day. Acknowledge that you know he likes to chat first. Point out that this does not work every time. Instead, sometimes what is required is to be totally focused on the job and getting each task completed on time and efficiently. If time is left over, pleasantries can be shared. Be clear that there may be days when it is simply not possible to do the personal interaction. Let him know that when that happens, it is not personal. It is work.