Ask Natalie

DEAR NATALIE: I recently quit my stable yet unsatisfying job to work with a friend who offered me more money to help her launch her business. I was promised a few things, including a full-time position with flexibility to work from home a few days a week. (I have two small children, so this was very important to me.) However, I didn't realize how emotionally unstable my friend was, and working with her has been a bit of a nightmare. I was tasked to do project management and client development, but she has little understanding of what my role entails, and when I try to do things on my own, she becomes offended. Now she wants to bring in another person, and it feels as though I am being pushed out. This is making me nervous, as I quit my job with the assumption of security on her end. Can I bring this up to her? She also has been acting weird about me working from home, but when I work with her at her home office, all she wants to do is talk about her less-than-stellar love life. I get nothing done and have a ton of work to do when I'm home. What should I do? -- HAVING REGRETS

DEAR HAVING REGRETS: My first question for you is, "Did you get it in writing?" I bring this up because I have been burned in the past due to my trusting nature. Even though it may seem counterintuitive to have to do that with a friend, it is even more of a necessity. That way, when things get messy (and they always do!), you can at least point to your piece of paper for guidelines.

Assuming you didn't have a written contract, it seems to me that you have two options: 1. Put up with her emotional nonsense and hope that she doesn't push you out. Try to work around her neuroses but cap the amount of time you spend with her. (Perhaps only go work with her for half of each day so there is still time to get "real" work done when you are home and start looking for another position.) 2. Just be direct with her about what is going on. Explain that you left a stable position to work with her, and you are concerned about boundaries at work, your responsibilities and the workflow. Bring this up gently, because she seems temperamental, and I would come with documents. Lay out a plan. Lay out the work day. Present to her exactly what you want so that there is no more confusion moving forward. And if you haven't signed a contract? Get a lawyer to help you draft something that is fair and reasonable and present it to her. If you are moving forward together, you need to be on the same page.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Know your worth. It can be tempting (especially if you are just starting out) to undervalue what you do and what your capabilities are. But, remember, you can always negotiate contracts, salaries and perks, so start with everything you want and see what happens. Don't slam a door on yourself!

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

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