Office Coach: Stress eagerness to work again

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Question: Six years ago, I left the business where I had worked for 23 years because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I held a highly paid position at the time, but I would feel lucky to make half as much now.

During job interviews, I’m not sure what to say if I’m asked about my previous salary. Interviewers probably think I was crazy to leave such a high-paying job, so how do I assure them that a lower salary would be perfectly acceptable?

Answer: Given your six-year employment gap, most interviewers will assume that you have learned to survive without a hefty paycheck. Their greater concern is likely to be your motivation to work. If you can convince them of your eagerness to rejoin the workforce and your ability to make a meaningful contribution, they should have no trouble accepting your downsized salary requirements.

Question: I was recently asked to share a cubicle with one of my co-workers. Since moving in with “Ashley,” I have noticed that she frequently plays games on her computer, sometimes for up to two hours.

When I mentioned this to the owner, he shrugged it off and said she won’t be playing games for long because her busy season is coming up. This is seriously affecting my morale, so I would like to diplomatically talk to Ashley about it. How should I approach her?

Answer: Unless Ashley’s gaming habit is affecting your work, this is not your problem. The reality is that you are not her boss, so it is not your place to correct her performance. You have done all you can do by talking with the owner, who apparently doesn’t care.

Hopefully, the “busy season” will soon put an end to Ashley’s goofing off. But in the meantime, reduce your own frustration by ignoring her activities and focusing on your tasks.

Marie G. McIntyre, a workplace coach and author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics,” can be reached at

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