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Invariably, a coworker with Aspirations aspirates instead all over the conference room table during cold and flu season. Some of the most prolific performers in the office are also the most prolific disseminators of germs. But no one's too fabulous to take a needed sick day.

Dear Annette,

Our manager keeps coming into the office when he is obviously sick, such as when he has an awful cold. We don't want to get what he has. How can we get him to stay home?

Sick of It

Dear Sick of It,

Ah, the miracles of droplet infection. Just one tiny sneeze gone awry, or a revolting tissue placed for nary a second on a common surface, and all of you will be singing the same song, complete with a chorus of choking gasps, honks, and other noises. It is never fabulous to contaminate others, particularly if the company is planning to institute a 360-degree review process soon.

Your manager is coming into the office because he thinks it shows how dedicated he is to his job. Either that or he hasn't read the company benefits manual clearly, and only you can judge which of the two it might be.

All of this points to the fact that your manager needs People.

My People help me and my dog Dickie to be at our best for our Public. From making my hair do what it does to finding that perfect collar for Dickie, my People make sure it's always a great day. As one of your boss's People, you can help him see that his strategy of martyrdom, although infectious, antagonizes his Public.

The next time an office epidemic starts, tell your manager that all of you hope he will give himself much-needed rest if he gets sick. Point out how you and your colleagues have discussed frequently his dedication to the job in the face of grotesque illnesses. You want him to know that while he sees himself as Master of Forbearance, others think of him as Person with Red Nose or Man with Damp Tissue and Suspect Personal Habits.

If you can also emphasize the ways he could stay in touch with the office from home, or another planet, so much the better. He might need a telescope to see his Public, but you can assure him you all are there waving just the same.

Particularly if you haven't been wiped out by the flu.

Stay fabulous,

Copyright 2000-2004 ©, Inc.

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