The Work-a-Day World (4-6-05)

Dear Zelda,

My questions have to do with where I work and the people I'm working with. How should I keep from letting co-workers' bad moods affect me? Also,sometimes I deal with difficult/rude customers , how can I learn to shrug it off? Thanks in advance. I know you'll be able to help me.

Woe At The Workplace

Dear Woe,

Whenever possible, space yourself from sourpusses.  No matter where you work, grouch gurus can infest morale and test your tolerance level. These grumps may feel insecure, unappreciated, resentful or simply apathetic.  Never take it personally.  Challenging as it might be, come across as being upbeat and enthusiastic.  Find something to be happy about or appreciate every day.  Look for the good, not the growly.  Get in the habit of being compassionate with rude, abrasive customers.  They could be having an underdog day.  Never argue with a skunk. Concentrate on being a good listener and practice daily patience and forgiveness.  Apply a sense of humor to bad situations.  He who laughs... lasts.  See the office water cooler half-full, not half-empty.  After difficult moments, take some deep breaths. Indulge in mini-meditation breaks.  According to Sandra Crowe, author of Since Strangling Isn't an Option (which I highly recommend), as much as 75% of our stress comes from just having our eyes open.  So shut them!

Smile if you want a smile from another face.  Accept that some days in any workplace can just be a ROYAL PAIN!  Two other books to consider are: Get Along With Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: 8 Keys to Creating Enduring Connections with Customers, Co-Workers...even Kids by Arnold Sanow and Sandra Strauss and Undress your Stress: 30 Curiously Fun Ways to Take off Tension, by Lois Levy.  Switch your attitude from "I have to go to work" to "I want to go to work". Every day is a new adventure!  If nothing improves after all is said and tried, dig around for a new gig.


Dear Zelda,

We have a problem in our household!   We are five dogs. Our 'mom' can't find a job.  She just graduated from college with a degree in elementary education.  The problem is that she's 51 years old.   We heard that you may have some good suggestions?  Mainly we would like to eat and she's crying all the time.

Five Caring Canines

Dear Caring Canines,

Tears are a form of irrigation.  Without tears we cannot grow.  A slobbery kiss times five can go a long way in soothing sorrow.  Encouraging news for your mom: an estimated 2 million additional teachers will be needed over the next decade, according to the  "Career Guide 2005" which  appears in the March 21, 2005 U.S. News and World Report.  I suggest your mom apply to be a substitute in her local elementary schools.  Getting her foot in the classroom door could lead to a long-term sub position, which would give her a chance to prove herself to the Principal.   If she has a special talent that could be shared, she could go to her District School Board and request to be hired as a roving specialty teacher.  By accessing "", a nation-wide online educators' employment network, your mom can review job opportunities posted by schools and districts throughout the country.  A comprehensive compendium of job listings is available at "".   Albeit not necessarily feasible, she could opt to move to a place like Manatee County in Florida, which has 10 new schools under construction, and adds 150 new teachers a year.  Tell her not to forget that working through temporary agencies will keep kibbles in the cupboard until she lands a teaching position.  I was better than a professional therapist when my owner was 52, in debt and unemployed, so I know the importance of licking mom's tears, listening to her, and making her laugh.  Your mom's age isn't as crucial as her enthusiasm, perseverance, and age-defying attitude.  A Swedish proverb says, "Those who wish to sing, always find a song."


Dear Zelda

My husband and I read that you work as a certified therapy dog with the Delta Society.  We are the owners of Walter the Wonderdog, a beautiful and gentle yellow lab.  We think he would make a great therapy dog for hospitals or nursing homes.  Walter loves people and is really well behaved.   He even likes our mailman.  Our question to you is how do we go about getting Walter certified so that he, too, can work with people who might need a little unconditional love?

Dog Owners Who Want To Share The Love

Dear Dog owners,

The Pet Partners Program will get tail-wags from Walter the Wonderdog.  As handlers, you will be required to attend an 8-hour training course or a home-study course.  To be considered, Walter must have basic obedience training and lots of socialization.  He will be required to pass a general physical exam and have all his immunizations.  Next, a 2-part Team Evaluation process will determine how well you interpret and manage Walter's behavior, and how well Walter responds to you.  After tests are passed and your registration packet received, you will be issued a temporary ID badge, which allows you to begin visiting.  As a Pet Partner, you will receive Delta Society membership and a subscription to   Interactions Magazine (which includes a section for Pet Partners), a $1 million primary liability insurance and referrals to facilities searching for Pet Partners teams.  Just as was the case for my owner, seeing the faces of people who are touched by your dog's noble service and unconditional love will bring you immeasurable gratification and pride.  As long as Walter is at least 1-yr. old and hasn't had bite training, I predict you and Walter will make a grrrrreat Pet Partners Team.  For a complete online description of the steps to becoming a Pet Partner, go to Winston Churchill had it right when he said, "We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give."  Carol and I work with children who have had learning problems and their progress and success are our rewards.