columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. How can I recover from being the office grump?

I'm in my first year in my job. I'm an open book, so people know when I'm happy and when I'm not. Naturally, when I'm upset or angry at work, people can tell. I have been really stressed and haven't been nice at my office lately. Basically, I've been grumpy. Is there any way I can salvage the situation? Nobody is running away from me; I just thought I might be able to do something about it.

Green responds:

Yeah, you really don't want to be openly grumpy at work. I mean, we're all human, but being openly grumpy more than very, very occasionally and more than one day at a time is not great for your reputation and your relationships with co-workers. That's doubly true if it's more anger than stress, or if it comes across as anger. You're expected to pull it together and be reasonably pleasant -- or at least not unpleasant -- when you're at work. It's part of what they're paying you for. That's especially true when you're newer (both to the work world itself and to this particular job), because you don't have a long history of different behavior to weigh against it.

It's too late for that now, of course, but it's important to know that going forward. As for how to recover now: If you were really rude to anyone, apologize. But otherwise, just move immediately into pleasant/cheerful/helpful mode, and resolve to stick to it. If you can sustain that, after a while you should hopefully counteract whatever happened earlier.

2. I missed an interview invitation while I was recovering from surgery.

I had surgery almost three weeks ago to repair an injury, and while I was recovering, I got a call from a prospective employer and never returned the call because I felt horrible. I'm finally back on my feet and I'd really like an opportunity for an interview at said company. 
Should I call back and explain my situation to them, even if the position is not open? I see postings from them often and I would like to do as much damage control as possible in case a future opportunity arises.

Green responds:

Yes, although I'd email. Explain that you were recovering from surgery for an injury, just received their message, would love to interview if it's not too late, but understand it might be. Your goal here is largely to close the loop, so it doesn't look like you just ignored an interview invitation from them. If you get an interview out of it, too, that's great -- but either way you'll have corrected the impression that you just didn't bother to get back to them.

3. Recommending someone I laid off without revealing our financial troubles.

We have recently let an employee go. I'd like to help her find a new position by reaching out in my network. How do I word the email that says "yep, we fired her" but not "we are downsizing because we didn't have enough money to pay her" without anything blowing back on us as an organization? I want to help, but I also don't want people to know that because of our crappy financial situation we've had to downsize.

Green responds:

Well, first, it sounds like you didn't fire her -- you laid her off. Firing is for performance or conduct; laying off is when you cut the position altogether because of finances or restructuring. So make sure that you're saying "laid off," not "fired" when you talk about her.

As for how to recommend her without explaining why you let her go, you could say that you restructured her team and ended up cutting her role, but that she was great (if that's true). You don't have to say it was because of finances. But also be aware that employers will probably ask her directly why she left the organization, and so unless you've sworn her to secrecy (which would be unkind to try to do), it's likely to come out anyway. But it's not shameful if it does! Organizations sometimes lay people off. People are likely to be sympathetic, not scandalized.

4. Can I forward praise of me to my boss?

I've been at my job for eight months now, and it's been a steep curve, learning completely different processes than what I've been used to. I've encountered some hiccups since I started; some were my fault and some were things out of my hands. I've worked on improving the processes to stop them from happening again.

Luckily, I have an extremely supportive boss who has helped me learn and is happy with my progress, and I haven't had any issues in a couple of months. Recently, I've received a couple of really nice praise emails thanking me from the consultants I support. Is it OK to forward these on to my boss to make her aware of the good things I've done, rather than her just seeing the negative?

I am not seeking a pat on the back from her, but these things I've helped on have been big, complex, last-minute trips, and she was unlikely to have these consultants loop her in on positive feedback because they're so busy. I don't want to come across as insecure in my abilities, but I'd like her to also see that I've done a lot of positive things too.

Green responds:

Yep, absolutely. Don't forward minor praise (like a quick "thanks for your help"), but when people go out of their way to praise your work in a more substantive way, it's perfectly appropriate to share that with your boss. I'd just forward it on with a note like "Just FYI, thought you'd want to see this" or "here's a nice note from Jane!"

5. Who owns my work?

I want to know who owns the artwork I create while working in-house as a graphic designer. I work partially for a startup media company, where I pretty much do everything except find the clients in the first place. I am the only designer. We have a part-time developer and then just the owner (no design or marketing background), so I liaise with clients, deal with many emails, and complete every type of print and digital design, including mobile apps and the brand direction.

I am wondering about my rights and ownership for the work I create at my job. I guess if I was working in a large team for a big corporate business where many people's input is involved, then the artwork would belong to the company, but with me doing 100 percent of the work around and directly on all projects, I am unsure as to my ownership rights.

Green responds:

Your company owns the work that you produce for them as part of your job. When you're an employee of a company, you're engaging in what's called "work for hire"; they've hired you to produce work, and they own the rights to that work.

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