Political Conversations: Civility and Appropriateness

From now until Election Day in November, we will all be bombarded with news and talk about the various candidates and issues.  Some people are very intense in their convictions, and it can be difficult to know how to respond when they speak up, or to know what is appropriate to bring up.  As the old saying goes, if you want to avoid offending others, you shouldn’t discuss religion, politics or money. It is our constitutional right in this country to argue issues publicly and try to raise support for our viewpoints.  Debate and criticism can help us to affirm or reevaluate our own positions, and can bring about positive change.  Just remember that people can get upset when you challenge their opinions, and be sure to communicate your ideas respectfully. So, when and where is it probably okay to talk about political candidates and issues? With friends, it is fine to speak up, and you can have some stimulating discussions, but be prepared to change the subject if things get unpleasant. Talking at home with your family is pretty safe, unless your opinions are very different. Remarks to your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents could cause other problems. At your workplace, don’t do it – you aren’t being paid to argue politics, and it could hurt you professionally or harm working relationships. At special occasions, such as holidays, weddings or reunions, it’s better to avoid politics – people want happy memories of these times. On social media, be very careful – people may not want your opinions posted on their pages, and they may not want to wade through all that...

What Can I Do about a Bad Job Review?

Have you heard this from a friend, or lived through it yourself? “My supervisor gave me a negative performance review, and I don’t know what to do.  I thought I was doing well, but now I’m afraid of losing my job.  Is it truly that my performance is poor, or is it really a personal problem between us?” The first reaction to a bad review will usually be fear, along with anger or resentment.  Ask for a little time to absorb the feedback – don’t do anything until you have had time to think it through, and consider talking with friends or family who will be honest with you and not just take your side.  Negative feedback can be a huge opportunity to grow, and turning this into a challenge will show your supervisor that you are committed to improving. One great thing to do is to write down what you are thinking.  Writing helps you to organize your thoughts, so you get a clear picture of what’s going on. An important step is to try to see yourself from your supervisor’s perspective.  Be honest with yourself.  Do you get things done behind schedule?  Is your work sometimes inaccurate?  Do you often arrive late to work?  Do you clash with co-workers?  It helps a lot if you can understand what is making your supervisor dissatisfied.  Be realistic about where you need to make improvements. Once you have calmed down and taken a good look at yourself, ask to talk to your supervisor.  Don’t argue with the feedback – that won’t help.  If you don’t understand what you were told...

Tips to Avoid Problems with Car Repairs

It’s the time of year when cars won’t start, heaters don’t work, or you slide on the ice and your car has body damage.  It will help you to get good repairs if you educate yourself. Do some comparison shopping. Find a shop that has a good track record.  Read online reviews, and ask friends for recommendations.  If you need auto body repair, look at completed paint jobs coming out of the shop and see if the shop looks reasonably clean – a dusty shop equals a dusty paint job.  Make sure they offer at least a one-year warranty on parts and labor.  Your first line of defense is finding a quality repair facility.  Rely on your instincts – if the people seem shady, don’t go there. Get several estimates, and read each estimate carefully to see if all of them list the same repairs and if you think they cover everything that’s needed. If they are different, ask the shop(s) to explain.  If they can’t or won’t do that, go elsewhere.  Remember that going with the lowball estimate can result in a lowball job. If possible, remove valuables from the car before you leave it at a shop or have it towed. Give the shop a list of anything special in or on the car, such as alloy wheels, racing mirrors, upgraded stereo, or aftermarket products, such as remote starters. Make sure that any special equipment is still in or on the car when the work is completed. Finally, when you go to pick up the car, check it as carefully as possible to be sure that all...

Apartment Parking Issues and Snow

People get very possessive about their parking spaces.  People have actually been killed over parking spots, and parking can be a big problem in the winter. Snow or ice may cover the stripes that mark parking spaces. People want to leave more space between cars to avoid fender benders. Snowplows push all the snow to the edges of the lot, or to the middle, covering up some of the parking spaces. Apartment parking lots can be very difficult to clear, because there are almost always some cars there.  It’s easy to clear snow when it’s just a matter of plowing up and down the parking lot, but a snowplow or skid-steer has a hard time clearing around each vehicle.  This might mean that the cars already parked there have banks of snow around them, and if the owners shovel them out, they may throw the snow into the center of the lot or, worse, into other parking spaces. So what am I supposed to do? First, remember to be respectful of others – the worst disputes are caused by people who ignore the needs of their neighbors.  It seems like some people think that their time is more important than other people’s time – that can be very aggravating. If you can’t get out of your parking space without dumping on someone else, consider taking public transportation that day.  If there is none available, maybe you can get a ride with someone in exchange for giving them a ride another time.  If you belong to a carpool, ask to switch days with another member.  Maybe it would even be...
When Car Repairs Don’t Go as They Should

When Car Repairs Don’t Go as They Should

Winter is a time when fender benders are more common.  It’s darker, and roads are icy, so chances of an accident increase.  Regardless of who was at fault, your car needs to be fixed, and sometimes things go wrong in the repair process. Maybe it just takes a lot longer than anticipated.  Maybe the garage or the insurance adjuster couldn’t see all the damage until the work began.  It always seems to take longer and cost more than expected.  Some typical complaints are: The paint isn’t a good match, or shows scratches, drips, runs, or overspray. There are parts missing, such as trim pieces. The windshield or sunroof now leaks. They didn’t fix a dent that you believe was part of the accident damage. They forgot some electrical connections when they put the car back together, so your automatic windows don’t work. They didn’t transfer your expensive speakers from the old door to the new one. Something you left in the back seat is now missing. It took 10 days longer than estimated, so the rental car allowance ran out and you have to pay for the extra days. The insurance company won’t cover all the costs, because the repair shop is replacing older (depreciated) parts with brand new ones, but the accident wasn’t your fault, so why should you have to pay? Some problems really aren’t the fault of the shop.  When additional damages are discovered, the shop may have to wait for the insurance adjuster to approve extra costs before they order parts or do the work.  The shop can’t do anything about insurance companies’ policies. Not...