The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous form below, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Hi Doc:

I sent documents to a contractor that weren't supposed to go. The file was given to me, and I assumed that everything went to the contractor. Now it seems everything I do is questioned, and if I ask questions I'm talked to like a child. I'm new to this position and I expect mistakes to be made...maybe the boss doesn't. How do I show that I am competent and don't need to be spoken to like a child?


Dear Viking:

You are right: everybody makes mistakes. But the way you handle a mistake is key to whether your career recovers or not.

A few years ago, there was some great research on who makes it to the top of corporations. The research found that people who made it to the top made the same kinds of mistakes along the way as people whose careers got derailed. The difference lay in how the successful employees handled their mistakes. Those who became successful acknowledged their problems, apologized and let management know they would work hard to be sure such problems never occurred again. Those whose careers got derailed acted defensive, aggressive or tried to deny the seriousness of their mistakes.

So, my advice is to act pleasant and non-defensive if you are spoken to like a child. You should begin to be treated with more respect as the boss learns to trust you. And be sure that you do not act in any manner that makes you seem childish. For example, "Hi Doc" sounds pretty childish to me.

The Career Doctor

Ask The Career Doctor:
The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not respond to personal emails. Please use this form to ask your question.

First Name, Initial:



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.