DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, my sister, "Pam," and her husband bought a new telephone with all the features, including speaker, where everyone in the room can hear and contribute to the conversation.
Anytime anyone calls, they automatically punch the speaker button. I learned the hard way one day when I was discussing something very personal with Pam and heard her husband make a comment in the background.
I find speaker phones extremely rude. Pam will do dishes, work in the yard, even walk away to another room while we're talking, and I feel she doesn't give me her undivided attention. I've tried making subtle hints such as, "I'm sorry, but I can't hear you," but that hasn't worked.
Other family members feel the way I do and call her less often because they don't want a group discussion. I miss the private chats I used to share with Pam. Any suggestions? -- MARY IN WINSTON, ORE.
DEAR MARY: I do have a couple. The first is to stop dropping "subtle hints" and tell your sister plainly exactly what you have told me -- including how the rest of the family feels about what she's doing.
And if that doesn't work, teach her a lesson by starting your next conversation with, "Pam, remember when ..." and reminiscing about her most embarrassing moment -- something only a sister would know.