Q. One woman I work with seems to have taken a complete dislike to me from day one. I have no idea why, but it's getting worse, despite my efforts to be friendly. I've gone out of my way to be nice to her, but now I've given up and I'm just ignoring her. The problem is, she's poisoning the whole office against me. I pretend it doesn't matter but I feel like quitting.

Q. One woman I work with seems to have taken a complete dislike to me from day one. I have no idea why, but it's getting worse, despite my efforts to be friendly. I've gone out of my way to be nice to her, but now I've given up and I'm just ignoring her. The problem is, she's poisoning the whole office against me. I pretend it doesn't matter but I feel like quitting.

A. Work out the facts of this case before taking action or you could end up in a scenario of open conflict, with you taking the role of the bad guy. This is really no better than school playground stuff.

Write a list of all the things this woman has done to show her dislike towards you. Keep hearsay and assumption out of the equation and stick to specific facts. Then arrange to speak to her alone. Tell her you believe you got off on the wrong foot, but that you want to be able to work amicably together. Don't aim for friendship, just a professional relationship. Ask her if there is anything you have done to annoy her. Leave emotion on the sidelines and be calm and open and listen without prejudice. Show empathy with her views, even if you have a burning desire to throttle her. Let her know how her behaviour has affected you. Ask if you can't both move ahead.

If she refuses to discuss matters you have a problem. If life gets too miserable, think about transferring to another department before taking the decision to leave.

Q. I will soon be sent on a regular round of external training courses. The trouble is I'm still quite shy and find all the introductions and role-plays a bit of a nightmare. On the last course I was sent on I went off sick on the second day because I couldn't cope with it. Is there anything that would make life a bit easier, or am I the only one who suffers like this?

A. Take it from me you're in good company. Your discomfort is understandable, but you do need to live through it. Avoidance is your worst possible option. Delete it from the picture and you are looking at two surviving scenarios: doing it the ballsy way or behaving like a wuss. The best way through is simply to roll up your shirt sleeves and get stuck in. The same applies to role plays. Volunteer yourself as soon as possible, as hiding quietly at the back only makes you feel worse when your time does come. If you rehearse a few in a "safe" environment you will begin to feel a lot more confident when you do it for real.

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