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AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: My boss recently learned how to use the green screen on Zoom. She’s obsessed with it and keeps coming up with different backgrounds. However, I find a lot of them to be silly and unprofessional. She thinks it’s hilarious. Recently, she used an obnoxious one during a call with a customer. In fact, in a follow-up call with me, the customer mentioned it. They said they found it hard to believe that she was my boss and not the other way around. Should I tell her? — Grady
J.T.: While I don’t think I would share your personal opinions about backdrops, it’s appropriate to share the customer feedback. I would tell her that you thought it important to mention because you were concerned that it might impact the relationship with the customer. By sticking to the facts, you give her a way to learn that not all backdrops are appropriate for work. Lots of people are just learning how to navigate this new online world of work, and it’s not always easy to know what’s acceptable. If she asks for your opinion, I would say while everyone is entitled to choose their backdrop, you have opted to keep yours as professional as possible.
DALE: Make the discussion general, by which I mean, not about her. You can start by saying you’ve gotten some feedback from customers on your department’s Zoom meetings, and you’d like to volunteer to help everyone to come across better. Go into YouTube and search for “how to look good on Zoom calls,” and you’ll find plenty of options. (I looked at a few, and one I thought was particularly impressive is “Zoom backgrounds Iman” — Iman being a professional designer.) Put together a few tips and raise everyone’s level, making you a hero, not a nag.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m getting married in May. My fiance wants us to take a month-long honeymoon. Me, too. But my company has a strict two-week policy. I want to see if my company will let me take the other two weeks unpaid. I mentioned this to a coworker, and she told me that other people have asked and were denied. Should I even bother to try, or should I just start looking for a new job so that I can go on the vacation? My wedding and marriage are far more important than this job. — Alexis
J.T.: While your company may have enforced their rule in the past, they might be rethinking it. Many companies are now responding to the Great Resignation of 2021 by creating more flexible policies.
DALE: Some advice for anyone asking for something special at work: Seek to make it easier to say “yes” than to say “no.” Emphasize that it’s unpaid leave and figure out how your work will get done, including finding colleagues to help. Doing so, you make it clear that you both care about the department and that the time off is highly significant to you.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about HR, “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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