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Ask Amy: Fishing for recognition a tough sell

DEAR AMY: I work in a very small office. All of the guys are very nice and appreciate the work I do for them.

My supervisor's mother passed away the same week as Secretary's Day, and because of that, the day was never recognized. Of course, I never mentioned it to anyone.

I thought I should wait a while to see if anyone would make a gesture to celebrate the day, but so far no one has.

How long should I wait before saying something - or should I just forget about it? - Waiting Respectfully

DEAR WAITING: I gather that you are perhaps taken out to lunch or treated in some way on Secretary's Day. It would be hard to raise this issue comfortably without making it sound as if you are grazing for a treat, which in all honesty, you are. Not that you don't deserve it, mind you, but the whole idea is to be compensated for your job and treated fairly on the job, and you say you are.

I wanted to check this issue at the source, so the National Association of Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants offered to extend your problem to their membership. Virtually all of the administrative assistants who e-mailed me said the idea is to be compensated, treated well and recognized on the job every day, not just on this day. They say that because of the circumstances, you should forget about the extra special recognition this year.

DEAR AMY: You ran a letter recently from a student who was suffering through a boring class. You told the student that it wasn't her job to tell the teacher how to teach.

I disagree. I was in the same situation as that boring teacher last year until a student came to me and politely and gently pointed out how routine and monotonous my classes had become. Frankly, after I got over the surprise and shock, I reflected upon my classes and realized that she was right.

That night I researched Web sites and discovered that there are hundreds of more dynamic ways of teaching the same material. Immediately, I started using some of the suggestions and have had no more complaints. I try to include at least one "active" learning experience every month, and the students are content. There is a wealth of good ideas on the Internet for less creative teachers like myself.

Most teachers are grateful for suggestions to make their class more interesting as long as the learning continues. - Debra Baker

DEAR DEBRA: This is my "active learning experience."

Other teachers also wrote in to say that they would welcome student feedback if they were being too boring. Frankly, I am so glad to hear it.

DEAR AMY: Friends and relatives have been frequent visitors to my home since my husband died. I don't know how to tell them not to come anymore. It is very upsetting to me because most of them ask for things of his to "remember him by."

I never know what to say. I am not ready to part with his things. I want time to decide what I want to give to my boys and those I want to keep. Right now I don't want to give anything away.

I have been asked for clothes, jewelry and tools. I have given away some things and then get angry after they leave. Why do people act like vultures? - Recent Widow

DEAR WIDOW: I don't know why people act like vultures, but they do. You should adopt a blanket policy starting now to not give anything away until you feel ready.

If you have a firm policy, you don't have to worry about how to tell a specific person that they can't have a specific thing. You just say, "My policy is that I'm not giving away any of Dave's things. Thanks for stopping by." (You might want to add a line about not letting the door hit them on the backside on the way out, but I'll leave that up to you.)

Your sons also should intervene on your behalf if you feel intimidated or just can't take it anymore.

DEAR AMY: This is regarding the people who think it is OK to say, "Shut up." I disagree.

In our house the word became too popular so we devised a way to remind one another that it hurt our feelings to be told to shut up.

The response to "Shut up" was, "Have a nice day."

It worked like a charm and even diffused most situations because you couldn't help but smile because you had gotten caught using the forbidden words. - Christie in Maryland

DEAR CHRISTIE: I love this. I'll never hear the phrase "Have a nice day" in quite the same way again, but I love it.

Thanks for the thoughtful solution.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.