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Lindsey Novak


Insecurity Causes Personality Clash With Boss Q: I took a new job in my area, but with an unacceptably low salary. I saw it as an opportunity to learn a little more in my field, even though I thought the company didn't pay people what they were worth. I justified it, thinking I would quickly …Read more. Accepting One's Mistakes is Essential to Learning Q: I write press releases at a publishing company, and I thought I was good at it. They are sent as part of a mass mailing system to promote each book. I received a reply from one of the people who received it criticizing me for what she thought was …Read more. 24-Hour Shift Creates Dangerous Standard Q: I'm a paramedic employed by the city, and we ride in pairs in our ambulances. Not only are we on call for 24-hour shifts, but also have to make at least 20 calls per shift. Many people really don't understand how stressful and tiring the job is, …Read more. Don't Casually Sign Any Document Q: I rented from a 35-year-old single female homeowner. We were to share her two-bedroom, two-bath house. She was polite and reserved when she showed me the house. We talked about sharing all common areas (kitchen, food pantry, living room, basement,…Read more.
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Receptionist Almost Too Well Dresses for Office Role


Q: This is an unusual problem. I am the office manager for a medical clinic. I hired a 21-year-old woman to be our receptionist. All she needs to do is answer phones, greet patients and make appointments. She seemed mature for her age and dressed in a professional type of suit, which was a plus in the interview. She was concerned about clothing and did say that she did not want to wear a uniform because she did not want to be mistaken for a nurse or medical professional. I thought that request sounded reasonable. In fact, it makes perfect sense to me that in such a setting, a receptionist does not want to have to explain to everyone that she is not qualified to physically help someone if a need arises. I told her as long as she dressed professionally, that would be fine. She has performed beautifully in the job. The problem isn't that she dresses slovenly, but rather quite the opposite. This young woman spends all her money on clothing and dresses like a model in a magazine. She is attractive so she wears the clothing well, but the style is so expensive and high fashion, that it is distracting to all. Everyone who walks in "ooohs" and "aaahs" over everything she wears. How do I tell her to dress down?

A: This is certainly an unusual problem, since you can't dictate how much or how little a person spends on a wardrobe. You can comment when attire is inappropriate for a setting, such as too sexy or too casual bordering on sloppy. But you can't interrogate her on where the money comes from to spend on such clothing. As you get to know her and find out about her family and her goals in life, you might learn the answers to how she attained such a wardrobe. If she performs well on the job, and all you are dealing with is everyone complimenting her, be a bit more patient in getting to know her.

People are judged by the way they dress.

Office Team (Menlo Park, Calif.) developed a survey on style of dress at work. An independent research firm asked 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies: "To what extent does someone's style of dress at work influence his or her chances of being promoted?" Executives responded with 33 percent saying "significantly;" 60 percent saying "somewhat" and 7 percent saying "not at all." When you find out your receptionist's career and life goals, you may discover why she has chosen to dress expensively.


Sales Professional Wants the Road to Success — Now

Q: I am in a sales position where I have to give a lot of presentations. I took public speaking in college, and I am comfortable with talking to people, but combining the comfort of one-on-one conversation with presenting information to a group gets me nervous. Even if the product is great, I feel like my ability to present is what will make me a success in sales. I need to get there quickly, since companies could miss out on a good product if I'm not good at it. Any recommendations?

A: Read books on speaking and practice until you feel up to speed. Being comfortable presenting a subject or product has to do with how well you know it. First develop expertise on the product and on your company. You need to be able to talk without looking at index cards or an instruction manual. One helpful book is "10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators" by Carmine Gallo. Gallo features speakers such as Jack Welch, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more. Each book you read will give you more confidence as you practice. There are no shortcuts to success.

Please send your questions to: Lindsey Novak, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd. Suite 700, Los Angeles, Calif. 90045. E-mail her at, or visit her Web site at To find out more about Lindsey Novak and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
I am a 46 to be 47 years old, but have been told I look and dress like I'm 15 years younger. I always matched with my clothes and jewelry but not to flashy or to tight unless I gained a little weight. I know that my new manager was very jealous because she had a weight problem. That's not my fault!! I did compliment her choice of clothing and style Even if I didn't like it. But she still disliked me and found any and every reason to get the company to get rid of me. After I spent 12 years as a receptionist. Now I'm going to an interview next week and I've been wearing a Black Suit and nice shoes. very little make up and jewelry. I still haven't landed a job and it's going on 1 1/2 year's I don't know if my past job is badmouthing me or is it me???
Comment: #1
Posted by: Terersa Kelley
Fri Nov 7, 2008 1:39 PM
updats on cooporate dresses
Comment: #2
Posted by: rachael
Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:59 AM
About "expensive" wardrobes: they needn't be expensive to look good. I once had a front office job in Boston and had to look well dressed. I learned to wear one classy-looking piece of costume jewelry, especially brooches which I still love. I combed the discount stores that were big at the time - Filene's Basement, Loehmanns, Syms. My local dry cleaner had a seamstress in the store who would do alterations, a woman from Syria with magic fingers. She tailored my new purchases and they looked like they were made for me. More than one person offered to stake her for a tailor shop of her own, and I think she eventually did that.
This was a generation ago, and these stores no longer exist, or if they do they have been acquired by larger corporations with less of a focus on quality. Today's discount stores just don't compare - the clothing is flimsy and looks old and tired quickly, sometimes after one washing.
Wow, have I digressed.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Claude
Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:56 AM
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