'Take This Book to Work,' by Tory Johnson

How to Ask for Less Responsibility: You like your job, but lately it seems that either you've bitten off more than you can chew, or you're handed more than you can handle. First, stop accepting more work right now. Don't be a dumping ground for everyone else's work. "Although it would be my pleasure to help you if I could, I'm already at full capacity in terms of how much I can accomplish at this time." You can also try a candid conversation with your boss. "I know I make things look easy, but I have to overcome my willingness to take on more work than I should. Would you please help me to prioritize and delegate effectively so everything gets the attention it deserves?"

How to Ask a Colleague to Quit Complaining: Sometimes complaining is inevitable--everyone has to vent here and there. But when it's constant and unrelenting, it can bring everyone down. Approach your colleague by saying, "I know the other department can bother you sometimes, but lately your complaining has reached new heights and it's starting to worry me. I'd like to discuss this so I can help you figure out some kind of resolution." If it's affecting everyone else, you can say, "I am concerned that your negativity is bringing down our whole group. Your success is important to all of us, so let's work together to come up with a solution to nip the frustrations you're clearly experiencing."

How to Ask for Time Off to Attend to a Child's Needs: Since work typically takes place during the school day, working moms must prepare themselves for many conflicts over time. You want to be true to your job and your family--even when they overlap. First, if you know there's a field trip or performance or doctor's visit coming up, give your boss some notice and start by asking for several hours off, not a full day. Be clear that this means the company doesn't lose a full day of productivity and you don't use a vacation day or unpaid time off. Other times, make your needs known without asking for permission. For example, instead of saying, "Gee, my son is graduating from high school next month, and I'm hoping to take off a few hours that day to attend his ceremony." You can say, "My son is graduating from high school next month, so I'll need to take off a few hours that morning, which I'd like you to note on your calendar."

How to Ask if Someone Is Unhappy with You: Women usually have great intuition--we may have a hunch that something isn't right. Don't over think it or assume the worst before you've gotten the facts. You might say, "Your opinion matters a great deal to me, and I've noticed that you've been very quiet lately. We haven't spoken like we normally do. Would you tell me what's going on?" You can also try, "Our professional relationship is very important to me, and I'd appreciate it if you'd be candid in telling me if there's anything that I can improve on." Avoid asking, "Did I do something wrong?" or "Do you have a problem with me?" since it's usually easier for the person to just say no to avoid a confrontation than to give you an honest response.

Johnson is the Workplace Contributor for "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire. Connect with her at www.womenforhire.com. From September through November, visit Johnson in person at the free Women For Hire Career Expos throughout the country where you can ask her directly about your most challenging career concerns.

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