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Vacations Are For Losers

You won't believe this, but there are some employees so ungrateful to have a job that they are actually thinking about taking vacations. Yes, I know it's almost summer, but let's get real here. We're talking about the summer of 2010, and if you're lucky enough to have a paycheck, you'd be an idiot to also want a tan.

Sure, it would be nice to spend two weeks on some sunbaked isle with talcum powder beaches, but if the price for all that fun in the sun is losing the opportunity to spend the other 50 weeks in the gloomy, doomy confines of your office cell block, I say — unpack the sunblock.

Still, for those of you sufficiently dumb or daring to insist on having time off, consider the advice of Joseph Grenny, an executive, speaker and author of "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High," and "Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior."

According to an e-mail from Grenny's flack, the latest issue the workplace expert finds crucial is the vanishing vacation. You can imagine how violated my expectations were when I read that "due to social pressures and economic conditions, people are afraid to speak up for their vacation privileges. [Grenny's] research shows only half of employees are willing to speak up and ask their manager for the support and permission to take a vacation."

If you find yourself in that timid 50 percent, when you consider going to the boss to spell out your champagne wishes and caviar dreams, Mr. Grenny has some suggestions for you:

1. "Ask for what you really want. If you understate the importance of your vacation, you can't blame your boss for giving a lukewarm approval."

It won't be easy to abandon your typical technique of dancing around an issue — hemming and hawing, and eventually coming to a dull point in which you murmur something like, "Gosh, I've been working these 80-hour weeks, and it sure would be nice to take a little break if it's alright with you, boss. Because I don't want to make a fuss, and if you say no, that's fine, too."

Instead of the Caspar Milquetoast routine, you really should go for it, as in "You know, I've been really working hard, and I think I should tell you that if I don't get break soon, I'M GOING TO GO COMPLETELY BONKERS. AND I CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE BECAUSE I'M PRETTY STRESSED RIGHT NOW, AND IF I HAVE TO WORK ONE MORE MINUTE WITHOUT A BREAK, I'M GOING TO STRIP NAKED AND COVER MY BODY WITH POST-IT NOTES."

Now, that's an employee who needs a vacation.

2. "Talk about what it truly means to take time off. If you are required to take the office with you in the form of e-mails and conference calls, you never truly leave the office."

Your managers can promise they'll leave you alone, but the minute you're out of spitball range, they'll try to call you, or email you, or fax you. That's why you must choose your vacation destination with great care. Forget about luxurious surroundings with high thread-count sheets and Wi-Fi in every hot tub. You want a destination where there is no cell service, no phone service, no service of any kind.

For example, Willie's Rent-A-Yurt RV Paradise in Uzbekistan may not be comfortable, and sleeping with goats is not everyone's idea of fun, but when your cell phone stops ringing, you'll love every minute of it.

3. "Maintain boundaries. After getting agreement to your vacation plans, be prepared for niggling encroachments."

From the time she says "yes," expect the boss to start chipping away at your vacation. You may be asked to leave a day later or to come back a day earlier. You could be invited to join "just a super-short" meeting or to review a critical report that will be delivered to you by carrier pigeon.

Grenny suggests that you refuse to back down by being "inflexibly supportive" of managements needs. If worse comes to worse and you truly fear for your job, the best idea is to invite your boss to come along with you on your vacation. If you've done your best to plan a truly terrible time, chances are the boss will refuse and you'll be free to go.

There won't be a whole lot of luxury living with goats in a yurt in Uzbekistan, but think of the bright side — you won't be at work.

Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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