Awkwardness in the Workplace


Let me begin today’s post by offering a public (and definitely NOT awkward) thank you to those Wise Women who bought bead necklaces last month in support of My World Wish campaign and the second annual Wise Women Big Bucks Giveaway. As promised, for every necklace purchased, Anne and I made a matching donation to Global Colors, an organization that promotes self-sustaining grassroots economic projects.

The necklaces – beads made by women in Kenya and cords by women in Cambodia – are simple, yet elegant … and connect us to our wise sisters across the world. May you and your loved ones who received them as gifts wear them in good health!


women-runningChanging gears, I just had to run the following scenario by you for your reactions. Put on your advice-columnist hat and read on:

After the department director left 18 months ago, Mary and Jane are the only two people who work in a critical, high-pressure, and understaffed office. The higher ups name Mary as interim director and proceed to conduct a national search for a permanent director. Initially, Mary places herself in the pool of candidates for the permanent position, but later withdraws.

Despite a year-long search, the position remains unfilled as the few applicants who are offered the job reject it (too little money for too many headaches.)

Now the higher-ups approach Jane. They say Mary isn’t cutting it as interim director and needs to be replaced. The higher-ups say the options are: (1) for Jane to assume the role and, after six months, both parties can decide if the job is a good fit permanently, or (2) for a new, interim director to be brought in from elsewhere in the company and Jane and Mary will work for that person.

Jane considers the offer to be a career opportunity of a lifetime and decides to take the interim director position.

Mary considers the reassignment to be a slap-in-the face and is not talking to Jane, who is now her boss.

Can this working relationship be saved? Both Jane and Mary are good, hard-working people. If you are the work friend of Jane or Mary (or both – as I am), what do you say to them?


  • Sharon Says:
    1-9-2010 22:17:55

    Sounds like a tough situation. I would tell each one of them that I respect them as a co-worker and want to be able to maintain a relationship with both women. I would set boundaries, as in I will be suppportive but will not listen to complaining or gossip. This sounds like a systems issue that individuals can have little impact on but have to live with.

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