Q. I have been employed for nearly 30 years by a large defense contractor.
For more than 10 of those years, I have worked with a woman whose major goal in life is to make my life miserable.
She has embarrassed me, humiliated me, accused me unjustly and called me a liar on many occasions. Some days she treats me like a child or an imbecile.
I have managed to stand up to her successfully over the years without too much damage to myself. However, recently my worst nightmare became a reality: Our vice president -- a man, who actually likes her and believes that she is competent -- promoted her.
She now is my supervisor. Her abuse of me continues, only more gleefully as she now has control over my work, performance reviews and merit increases.
I have made several formal complaints to human resources regarding this woman -- yet she continues to operate the same way.
I have been seeing a psychologist on and off for two years and my visits have become more frequent because of the continued harassment I suffer at work.
My psychologist and I believe my emotional roller coaster is a direct result of her abuse.
I feel the company is responsible for providing its employees with an environment that's free of such dangers. I am at the end of my rope.
What should I do?
A. You and this person have had a 10-year history of conflict. It is very unlikely that this conflict will go away or get better. Besides, who can really tell how much you have contributed to this friction?
The promotion of this person indicates that the company has confidence in her. You have explored the avenues available to you inside the company. I doubt there is much reason to hope for more receptiveness in the future.
You lost this conflict. Accept this fact and look for a graceful retreat: Ask for a transfer. It is a safe bet that you will work more productively in another area and if you justify your request with this simple observation instead of using it to get back at your supervisor, she is likely to support the decision.
After all, she probably didn't enjoy working with you much more than you enjoyed working with her.
Q. I am a nonsmoker. Where I work, there is no place for nonsmokers to go for a 15-minute break. Smokers may go to a designated smoking room -- I certainly wouldn't want to go there -- it's deadly in there.
How can I get my management to stop favoring smokers?
A. Your smoking colleagues probably don't think your management is favoring them.
I infer from your description that your place of work has gone "smokeless."
Enjoy that major break and realize that it came to be at the expense of major inconvenience to the smokers.
Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.