When Freelancers Are Treated Like Full-Time, All the Time, Employees

Maybe you stop working with the client. Maybe you apply for other full-time positions elsewhere. Maybe you broach the subject with your colleague, tactfully, so you can at least get some clarity and information that may help you moving forward. However you move on from this, you know one thing for certain — you produce excellent work and will continue doing so.

Is it appropriate to correct an employee’s spelling in emails? If so, is there a tactful way? What should I say? Is it possible he can’t do better?

I manage someone (with his own direct reports) who’s prone to spelling mistakes in emails. English is his first language. I understand what he means but am disappointed, especially with how many resources there are to spell check. It’s not every email, maybe once a week. Should I address it? If so, how? I get frustrated with white dudes getting away with carelessness. I worry that it will threaten his credibility with his team and the company.

— Anonymous

In general, if someone has a consistent problem with spelling, you can point out the problem diplomatically. That said, this seems like more of a personal peeve than a professional problem, which is fine. We all have peeves. A spelling error once a week isn’t necessarily indicative of a real problem. It sounds like your employee sometimes writes emails too quickly and doesn’t take time to look over his work before sending it. He is careless, and the real cause for concern would be if that lack of care manifests in other aspects of his work. As his manager, simply take him aside or write him an email, cautioning him to take more care in his written correspondence. If you have two or three recent examples of misspellings, share them so he is clear on what you’re referencing. Remind him of the ubiquity of spell checkers. And lastly, offer him support if he needs resources to improve his spelling. As far as white dudes getting away with carelessness, I’m afraid that’s a problem that is going to be far more difficult to solve.

I work at a company where the owner/chief executive has very strong public opinions on the Israel/Palestine conflict and whose (publicly known) private philanthropic activity is directed to supporting the Israel Defense Forces. As someone whose views of the conflict are opposed to theirs, I am uncomfortable at the office. I do otherwise enjoy working there, like my colleagues, and the job. I also know that sharing the same political views as your C.E.O. can be silly criteria for taking/keeping a job at a company, but this hits different. Am I making too big a deal of this?

— Anonymous

Only you can say if you’re making too big a deal of this. Clearly, the differences between your views on Israel/Palestine and those of your chief executive are troubling you. Now, we have to live and work with people who hold different perspectives. Most of the time, this is normal and healthy when we are surrounded by reasonable people and not extremists. Few geopolitical issues are as polarizing as this one. It is a conflict (such an inadequate word) that no entity has been able to resolve for nearly a hundred years. We are not going to adjudicate the issue on social media or in the workplace or when we’re discussing it with our friends and family. But you have to decide what your boundaries are.

Here are some realities: Every single day, Gaza is being bombed, relentlessly, by the I.D.F. Israel will not stop, it says, until all the Israeli hostages have been released. Israeli officials are unmoved by international protests, the United Nations, or public outcry in Israel or anywhere else. And we cannot overlook decades of occupation. Hamas is equally relentless. Its members are terrorists who entered Israel, killed 1,200 people and took hundreds of hostages. It will continue committing acts of terror. It will not stop, its leaders say, until all of Palestine is free and Israel is destroyed. That’s unacceptable. We have to say that. It is horrific, all around.

How do you resolve such obdurate stances? More than 15,000 people, mostly Palestinians, many of them children, have been killed since Oct. 7. That has to be said, too. This mass killing will continue until the United States decides enough blood has been shed. Sadly, we live in a bloodthirsty world. This does, indeed, hit differently. Can you tolerate working for someone who is contributing money to the I.D.F.? I suspect you already know the answer.