Co-worker’s bad influence
I work in a corporate. Almost everyone smokes including my colleagues. We all take a break in the middle of the day and go out of the building to take a short walk where they smoke a cigarette. Recently, I have started feeling the pressure to smoke too, to fit in with everyone. I do not want to start because I’m scared it will become a daily habit if I start. At the same time, I feel the inclination towards it increasing. How do I handle this?

The need to ‘fit in’ and the need to fulfil that need is a vicious cycle. Your certainty is essential when it comes to refraining from the pressure you feel from people around you with respect to any substance or picking on a habit. Evaluate your reasons to not smoke as against the pressure you are experiencing. Any fluctuation in your decision would be based on this certainty. You can choose to have conversations with your colleagues who are smoking without having to indulge in smoking yourself. But if you lay down a rule for yourself stating that if you have to fit in you have to adhere to what’s normal to others then the trait might percolate in other areas as well.

Love not allowed!
I work in a school and there is a policy that staff members cannot date or be involved in any sort of romantic relationships. Recently, one of my colleagues’ got fired because the management suspected her of having a crush on a male professor. Post this, I am feeling scared because that sir and I were also quite friendly. We are very platonic but mutually decided to stop talking as I do not want my job to get compromised. I am still tensed.

The school policy appears to be very stringent as they are taking actions as well. The important thing to consider here is that if you have a platonic relationship with your colleague and are aware of how to maintain it things may not be difficult to handle at school. If you are feeling threatened and school is getting invasive, you can always have a reasonable conversation with the management about the same and not face the harsh conclusions. In case the fear still persists, it is necessary to address this along with other colleagues so that a fair decision is made.

A leader’s dilemma
I have a problem with the way my interns work. They make a number of mistakes and I have to constantly keep correcting them. I do not want to lose my patience with them and at the same time, I want to be strict so that they get more responsible. Which is the best leadership technique I can use here?

Leadership is dependent on a couple of factors such as exercising uniform rules for everyone, addressing the grievances, delegating work, appreciating the hard work along with being critical. It is essential that the interns understand their role and expectations that the job has from them so that there is a lesser chance on your part to lose patience. If you find that the interns are slacking in a certain manner or are making errors then conducting orientation to what is expected and what is delivered is very important. This will help both you and the interns to function as per the roles set down. Any approach that borders on extreme might not be very useful.

Life under pressure
I am a workaholic. I work for 12 hours a day on my self-made business. I feel extremely responsible for my family and all the people working under me. The pressure has been getting to me personally and professionally. I feel like I cannot take a vacation or even a simple decision, without thinking about the various people it will affect. Work used to be my happy space before but now it just makes me feel trapped. I cannot quit or lessen my work hours as the finances will stop flowing. What should I do?

The notion of work-life balance has to be designed by keeping in mind certain realities that you face on a daily basis. I understand that you have multiple responsibilities at work as well as family members. However, it is imperative to draw a line between working and overworking as personal well-being is important. If you are well mentally and physically you will be able to function to your best abilities as well. The idea is to not give up work for family and family for work, as it is a breeding ground for resentment. Trying to strike a balance based on your capacity is essential rather than setting overarching goals that stress you or make you feel trapped. MINDTEMPLE