Ask Fiona: How can I deal with the let-down of being overlooked for a promotion?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance on how to respond when you don't get the promotion you feel you deserved

You need to regain your self-confidence and then re-assess how you feel about your work
Fiona Caine

I DON'T know whether to be sad or mad, but I think I need advice on what to do next. For the last four years I've worked for the same company, and I can honestly say I've worked my socks off for them.

I thought they appreciated my efforts and that when the time is right, I'd get rewarded for them. However, perhaps they don't see things the same way because about six weeks ago, there was an opportunity for promotion to a role I know I was good for.

I applied, was interviewed, but didn't get the job, and they've given the position to an outsider – someone who doesn't even know the company.

I feel quite ill about all this and half of me wants to resign, but I can't do that until I have another job to go to. On top of that, I really like the work I do and get on well with my colleagues – many of whom have become friends.

It's the people in charge (the bosses), not my colleagues, who have let me down. I don't know what to do for the best and I feel quite sick and hurt every time I go into the office now. How do I get through this?


FIONA SAYS: I wonder if you've asked for feedback from your interview. Without that, you'll never know what the decision process might have been.

It may be that the person appointed has exactly the right experience and skills they were looking for, or even something, in addition, that they feel would help in the role.

It could be that – for some tactical reason – they wanted an outsider in the role. It could be that you need to acquire some additional skills in order to progress – but unless you ask, you won't know.

You've only applied once for a promotion, so to think of yourself as 'unappreciated' isn't – in my view – necessarily fair on those in charge. Length of service and even company loyalty is not a justification for promoting someone to a role someone else is better suited for.

It's possible that they have something else in mind for you too, so to react angrily now might lose you the chance of something even better.

I'm sure that, in the past, you've been knocked down and had to pull yourself up again. Try and remind yourself of those occasions and I'm sure you'll find the strength of mind to come through this.

You certainly don't want to jump ship while you're feeling shocked and unsure – if you do, you might well make a wrong career move. It's always better to move on when your confidence is high, that way you will be choosier about the job you go for and more attractive to a new employer.

You can acknowledge that you feel hurt right now but don't let that define you, as you need to gain some perspective on what has happened here. Time will help with that.

As I suggested, ask for an appointment with your boss and ask for feedback from your interview.Use the opportunity to talk about your prospects and about your aspirations. Ask what you need to do in order to move further in the company; would they, for example, be willing to offer you further training?

And if they aren't, use the information you gain to consider whether you should take further training on your own – perhaps in evening classes or by correspondence.

Even if you're unhappy about the outcome of the meeting, don't hand in your notice immediately. Take your time to reflect on what is said to you and see if it's justified. When you've recovered your self-confidence is the time to consider re-applying for a promotion or, alternatively, looking elsewhere for a better position.


I'm really not sure about a situation that's going on in my daughter's family and I'd appreciate some advice. My son-in-law mentioned recently that he often had great fun sharing a bath with my three-year-old granddaughter. It seems that they have always done this and, while it is almost certainly totally innocent, I am worried that it might lead to child abuse.

I am probably over-reacting, but it seems that there is a new story every week in the news about child abuse and how, in nearly all cases, it's a family member or someone known to them. Should I speak to my daughter? The little girl seems so happy with her dad and the last thing I want to do is spoil it all.

However, neither do I want to simply ignore this if there is the slightest possibility that my granddaughter is being abused.


FIONA SAYS: Sharing a bath is not, of itself, a cause for concern. It's usually great fun for all concerned and for parents, it serves the additional purpose of getting the child clean.

It will, of course, involve cleaning those parts of the child that will, at some stage, become private. But it's important to remember that washing is just that – getting clean. It is not abuse and it is important that we remember it is right and proper for parents of both sexes to dress, wash, feed, cuddle and kiss their children.

When the child is used for the adult's sexual pleasure or gratification, or when his or her wishes are disregarded, then abuse is happening. There is probably no harm though in raising the issue quietly with your daughter. Perhaps something along the lines of, "I'm sure being in the bath with X is fun but he must be prepared to stop when she is no longer comfortable with it."

If you see any clues at all that your granddaughter is distressed around her father, then do contact the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

I would strongly suggest you seek advice from them before taking any action such as contacting the police.

Their website ( is full of information you might find useful – particularly the 'Preventing abuse section'. It may help to dispel your fears to read it through even though – as things stand – the relationship is probably entirely innocent.


For the past three months I have been going out with a great-looking guy. He's my first proper boyfriend and all my friends say I'm lucky to be with him and that I should do everything I can to hang onto him. I'm 16 and have been out with guys before but never for as long as this. We get on really well together and we've started to talk about sex. The thing is, he's keen for us to have sex now but I don't feel quite ready yet. I am not very experienced, and I'm worried he'll lose interest in me if I don't go along with it.


FIONA SAYS: If you aren't ready, you aren't ready, and any boyfriend who tries to force you isn't worth having. It is never acceptable for anybody to pressure another person into having sex if they don't want to.

I suggest you try and find someone older, with a bit more experience to talk to about this – you probably can't talk to your mum (although it would be great if you could), so I'd suggest contacting Brook ( It's a charity that specialises in helping young people with their sexual health and wellbeing.

Remember, before you do start having sex, it's important to find out about contraception and sexual health protection, as well as sexual activity itself.

Please don't feel pressured into sex by your boyfriend.

If he genuinely cares for you, he should be prepared to wait until you are ready.

As for your friends, ignore what they say about hanging on to him at any cost. Doing what feels right for you is far more important.


Shortly after my husband died, I decided to move to a flat in sheltered housing so I wouldn't be a problem for my family. I've been very happy here for two years but last month, an elderly woman moved into the next flat.

Like me she lives alone but, unlike me, she is very much an early riser. Every morning at 6am she gets up, turns on the radio and starts cleaning her flat using the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher or maybe the washing machine.

I am usually an even-tempered person but I'm beginning to really resent having my sleep disturbed every day. Why doesn't she realise how inconsiderate this is?

Please don't ask me to get to know her, I don't want to make friends with her, I just want to get some sleep.


FIONA SAYS: I'm not going to suggest you make friends with her, but I'm certainly going to suggest you speak to her. If she's moved from a house of her own, where she was used to getting her cleaning done in the early morning, she may not have even considered other people.

That's not to suggest she's selfish, just that she's a little thoughtless and not adapted to her new surroundings properly yet. She probably hasn't considered the possibility she's upsetting anyone.

If you don't want to speak to her (which would be my preference), then perhaps send a polite note explaining that you'd appreciate it if she started her chores a little later. as it's disturbing your sleep.

Whether you speak or write though, try not to be confrontational; you don't know her and you don't know her circumstances. You've still got to live next to this lady and nothing will be gained by upsetting her.

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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