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The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE >> I have some co-work­ers who ir­ri­tate me. The work we do is in­tense and stress­ful, so I can’t eas­ily mind my own busi­ness. This is de­signed to be a col­lab­o­ra­tive work en­vi­ron­ment. And yet, I am usu­ally feel­ing like a lone ranger. I have brought this up to one of the co­work­ers in ques­tion but was met with lit­tle em­pa­thy.

I’d like to talk to a higher-up — not as a means of snitch­ing but as a means of find­ing un­der­stand­ing and even ad­vice. But I worry that my talk­ing to a higher-up would get back to the co-work­ers and make them re­sent me for go­ing over their heads. Ide­ally, yes, I’d work this out with them di­rectly. But his­tory has shown me that they’re un­re­cep­tive to my way of look­ing at things. They don’t make mean­ing­ful strides to change their be­hav­ior. I do like this job, but this is tempt­ing me to quit. Would that be an over­re­ac­tion? Or are iso­lat­ing co-work­ers enough jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mov­ing on? It’s easy to say, “Just ig­nore them and fo­cus on your own work,” but I see these peo­ple for 40-plus hours a week, and they’re not good for me.

— Con­flicted Co-Worker

DEAR CON­FLICTED >> Co-worker dy­nam­ics are no small thing. A dull job can be fun and re­ward­ing in the right com­pany; a great job can be­come un­bear­able in the wrong com­pany. But try the fol­low­ing so­lu­tions to straighten course be­fore hitting the eject but­ton.

1) Take them to lunch, one on one. Spending time to­gether out­side of the of­fice, even if it’s just an hour, will help you to see one an­other as peo­ple. When po­ten­tially hairy sit­u­a­tions come up in the course of your work, you’ll each be more primed for un­der­stand­ing, rather than at­tack.

2) If the problems per­sist, talk to HR. If you don’t have HR, talk to your man­ager (or, if your man­ager is one of the col­leagues with whom you’ve been butting heads, go to their man­ager). Avoid the ap­pear­ance of tat­tling by ac­tu­ally not tat­tling: Ex­press your con­cerns about your team’s abil­ity to work to­gether ef­fec­tively; seek so­lu­tions, not blame.

3) If efforts at es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter rap­port fail, keep as much com­mu­ni­ca­tion to email and/or a pro­fes­sional in­stantmes­sag­ing ser­vice (such as Slack) if your com­pany uses one. This cre­ates a pa­per trail and en­cour­ages every­one to be on best be­hav­ior.

DEAR AN­NIE >> I read your ar­ti­cle on esophageal cancer in my lo­cal pa­per. I was di­ag­nosed with this type of cancer back in March. I caught it early so it was de­ter­mined to be at stage 2. I had no phys­i­cal symp­toms but I did no­tice my stools were black for a few days. If I did not fol­low up with this black stool, I am sure it would have got­ten to the point where I could not swallow or eat. Luck­ily, my doc­tor of 35 years kept press­ing me to have fur­ther test­ing, and the tu­mor was found when I had the up­per en­doscopy. My on­col­o­gist told me that this type of cancer is be­com­ing more preva­lent. Thank you for spread­ing the word.

— Tony B.

DEAR TONY >> I’m so sorry you’re go­ing through this. I heard from sev­eral oth­ers who re­ported that they had no ob­vi­ous symp­toms of esophageal cancer, such as the fol­low­ing.

DEAR AN­NIE >> Five years ago, I was di­ag­nosed with esophageal cancer. I had NONE of the symp­toms you men­tioned, ex­cept for some very mi­nor weight loss. I would en­cour­age peo­ple to have an en­doscopy at the same time they have a colonoscop­y. It’s done by the same doc­tors, so there’s only one anes­thetic, and the re­cov­ery for both is the same amount of time. Hav­ing esophageal cancer and an esophagec­tomy is a life-al­ter­ing sit­u­a­tion with no “do over.” Should any of your read­ers wish to have dis­cus­sion they may email me.

— Arnie M.

DEAR ARNIE >> Thank you so much for shed­ding ad­di­tional light on this sub­ject.

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