What's your problem?

I'm childless and I'm tired of taking on my colleagues' work...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: I'm a woman in my late thirties without children and I'm starting to resent the way my female and male colleagues never work late or come in early, while the opposite is always expected of me.I always have to come in over Christmas too. I don't think it's fair. How do I raise the issue with my boss (who has children) without sounding like a bitch?

A: This (as you know) is a tough one. Your best hope starts with a realisation that your boss and colleagues almost certainly harbour a kind of buried guilt about this already. They, too, must know it's unfair but it's hugely convenient for them. They all face the tug-of-war between work and family - and as long as you seem happy to fill in the gaps, they can convince themselves that everything's just fine.

So you need to talk to your boss, the sooner the better. Conceal your mounting resentment: you have an extremely reasonable case, so don't let it be coloured by bitterness. Don't mention families and children; just remind your boss that all lives have an important private side and you're concerned that yours is becoming increasingly invaded. You're always happy to help out when you can but you'd be very grateful if the load could be spread a little more equitably: you don't want to start feeling put-upon.

This gentle approach should be just enough to prompt their latent guilt and make them take some action.

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