Q.: I am about to be in an awkward situation. I was recently engaged in a pretty intense process to see if I would be hired for a job. I worked a lot with the human-resources director, and we grew to be friendly. Then, when I didn't get the job, she sort of disappeared.
Next week I am going to an event where I'm sure she will be present. I'm wondering, how should I react to her? There won't be that many people there, so I don't think I can avoid her. But I'm not sure what to say, either. – Unsure, Dallas
A.: First, you have to shore up your confidence. You didn't get the job, which may make you feel vulnerable or unsteady. That's natural.
What you can do is literally count your blessings. Write down what you know to be good and great about yourself, personally and professionally. Remember the good qualities that made you a viable candidate for the job. Recall positive interactions that you had with the human-resources director. Then remind yourself of the nature of the event you will be attending.
When you go to the event and see the HR director, walk right over to her and say hello. Ask how she is doing, and listen to her response. You can offer something about yourself if you like. Or you can say “good to see you” and keep moving.
By being proactive and seeking her out, you will show that you are confident and strong. Hold that intention, and the jitters should subside.
Q.: I have applied to go back to finish my college degree, and I'm excited about the prospects. I have been having some difficulty gathering my previous transcripts and some other material the college wants from me. The process is taking way more time than I had planned, and it's affecting my work.
I haven't told my boss about my plan to go back to school, because I'm going to do it at night. But now I think I have to tell him so that he understands why I have needed to handle so much personal business recently.
How can I bring it up without upsetting him? – Nervous Student, Bronx, N.Y.
A.: I want you to take a deep breath and think about your life and this moment in perspective. You are doing a great thing by preparing to continue your education. You should be proud of your efforts and remain focused on completing all the necessary details. This includes being responsible at work.
Schedule a meeting with your boss and lay out your plan. Tell him that your night school courses should not affect your job. Describe what you are going through right now to get everything squared away, and apologize for being somewhat distracted of late. Ask for his support for the next few days or weeks, and promise to wrap up the details as soon as possible.
He likely will be relieved to know why you have been behaving differently and proud of your ambition. But you have to do your job.