DEAR ABBY: How does one respond to a former co-worker/acquaintance who wants you to be a reference at your current workplace? My experience with him was not ideal. He was a good worker, but he became irritable when he was under stress and drowned everyone around him in negative energy. I don't want to work with this individual again, but I prefer to be nonconfrontational. -- FORMER COLLEAGUE IN SUNNYVALE, CALIF.
DEAR FORMER COLLEAGUE: If you are asked again, tell your former co-worker you are not comfortable assuming that responsibility. Don't be defensive and don't allow the person to pressure you. And you do not have to explain why you have chosen not to give the reference.