How to Do Just About Anything

From organizing your closet to surviving a nuclear disaster, we’ve got dozens of new skills for you to try.

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…Freelance for Westchester Magazine

Except for the obvious--and ability to write-- aspiring freelancers need to bring two things to the WM table: (1) a knowledge and understanding of the county, and (2) compelling, original ideas that fit the magazine. We’ve received inquiries from writers in Thailand and India, but, unfortunately for them, writing and reporting about life in our own backyard cannot be outsourced.

E-mail us a great idea—with proof that you have the writing chops to execute it—and we’ll be happy to consider it. Some final tips: DO include relevant writing samples with your query (what you wrote in your college literary mag doesn’t count), DO consider our lead time (we work at least three months in advance), DO be brief (we don’t have the time or the desire to read War and Peace-size pitches) and DON’T pitch us stories that merely rehash and recite the obvious.

…Deal with a Difficult Boss

Like a marriage, the key to a good work relationship is “trust and communication,” says JoEllen Vavasour, director of human resources and professor of human resource management at the College of New Rochelle. To deal with a tricky boss, Vavasour recommends:

1: Figure Out Your Boss’s Work Style. “Smart workers know how to manage their bosses,” Vavasour says. “Is your boss better in the morning or in the afternoon? Does your supervisor prefer e-mail or face-to-face talking? If your boss is a control freak, anticipate it. Go to him first. Say, ‘This is what I’m working on, let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.’ That makes him feel like he’s in control.”

2: Get into the Groove. Check in on a regular basis to avoid conflicts. “The best thing is to keep open lines of communication,” she says. “Then no one will be surprised by anything. Being surprised really frustrates supervisors.”

3: Use E-Mail Carefully. “Be careful what you put in writing,” she says. “Make sure that you’re not using e-mail as a de-stressing tool.”

4: HR Can Help. When you have no idea how to handle a possibly sticky situation, HR can be a great tool. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach,” she says.

5: Pick Your Battles. “You do that in all relationships. We all want to own our work, especially if we’re proud of it. Sometimes we have to step back and remember it’s not personal.”

…Handle a Secret Office Romance

Romance in the workplace may not be such a bad thing. “There is no reason why people can’t meet in the office,” says Dr. Elliott Rosen, director of The Family Institute of Westchester. “If you’re interacting day in and day out with the same group, the laws of statistics are in your favor.” surveyed 8,000 employees, and 40 percent of respondents admitted to dating someone in the office. If you find yourself becoming romantically involved with a co-worker and you’d like to maintain a low profile with it, keep the following in mind…

1: Know your company’s rules. Know your office’s policy on workplace relationships. Sometimes offices require relationships to be disclosed to HR, and others prohibit fraternizing with co-workers altogether. Discuss this with your partner; someone may have to switch departments, or even switch jobs. And, according to Forbes, it’s almost never worth it for a supervisor to start dating an underling: “Worst case scenario,” says employment attorney Kathleen McKenna, of New York’s Proskauer Rose law firm, a boss-underling affair that goes south and results in a sexual-harassment suit.”

2: Behave professionally. Keep the romance off company property; at work, it’s strictly professional. Don’t send personal e-mails from your work account—or even your work computer. Text messages may be a safer bet, but, then again, you don’t want to be caught in a Kwame Kilpatrick situation.

3: Maintain your other office friendships. Office employees eventually become like one big family, complete with jealousies, favoritism, and all sorts of complicated family dynamics. You don’t want to change your routine enough to arouse suspicions, or worse, offend your office friends. Don’t forget about that weekly coffee outing you used to have with your cube-mate or the communal lunches you used to head up in the lounge area.

4: Have an exit strategy. According to Careerbuilder, 31 percent of office romances end in marriage. Think about what would happen if the relationship flamed out, and be prepared to deal with the raw emotions of seeing your ex in the workplace every day.




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