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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a female supervisor of a staff of 30. My friend "Diane," who is also the office manager, is my problem. She constantly entertains personal calls and is very loud. She's a smart lady, but her work isn't up to par. (She knows her job, but does it "at her convenience.") Diane is also very bitter because she hasn't received a promotion. She had been told many times by the head of the department and by me to curtail her personal calls and to be more careful with her work.

Recently I was forced to take a lengthy medical leave. Diane was wonderful, calling and coming to visit. But I have recently returned to work, and my boss has asked me to talk to her again about the antics I mentioned. I'm afraid if I do so, I'll damage our friendship. Please tell me how to diplomatically approach her. -- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, BRONX, N.Y.

DEAR BETWEEN: As a supervisor, your first responsibility must be to handle the problems with the staff you supervise. While you are on duty, that responsibility must take priority over personal friendships, which are after-hours relationships.

Explain to your co-worker/friend that while you don't want to jeopardize the friendship, counseling your staff is part of your job. Tell Diane that you are calling her unacceptable practices to her attention so that she can meet company standards necessary for her to be successful. If you are tactful, she should be able to distinguish between your work relationship and your personal one.

DEAR ABBY: With the end of summer comes the time of year I dread the most -- the holiday season.

It isn't the holidays that get me down, it's the prospect of visiting my husband's family with our new baby girl. They are all lifelong smokers who think nothing of holding a baby and a lighted cigarette at the same time.

My sister-in-law's kids have allergies and asthma, but she smokes around them anyway. Parties at my in-laws' are literally a cloud of smoke. When my husband's family are guests in our smoke-free home, they smoke outside. These folks think that as long as the baby is away from the smoke, it won't affect her. They don't realize the smell lingers on them -- whether they're smoking in or outside.

With the colder weather approaching, all our visits will be indoors. Our daughter's pediatrician says no one is to smoke around her. My husband refuses to say anything to his parents about the smoke and insists we take our baby to their house. What can I do? Our daughter is only 6 months old, and exposing her to all that smoke scares me.

I should add that I get along well with my in-laws except for this one issue. Please tell me how to handle this. -- SMOKELESS BUT OUTNUMBERED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR SMOKELESS: Schedule a session with your baby's pediatrician and take your husband. He needs to be told by a professional that a smoke-free environment for your infant is "doctor's orders." Once he understands the importance of a smoke-free environment for the baby's health, the two of you can restrict the family visits at his parents' house and do it with a clear conscience.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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