DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an intern who is a college student and hopes to do the same work I do. I have taken her under my wing, so to speak, to teach her the business. She has worked with me on a few events, and I just realized that she has been following up with various contacts of mine to ask for their help with her business venture. But she never asked For my blessing to do that. I discovered that one of my contacts agreed to help her (for free) only because she thought I was doing the asking.
I need to address this with my intern. What should I say? -- Setting Boundaries, Staten Island, N.Y.
DEAR SETTING BOUNDARIES: It's natural that your intern would want to use your bounty of resources. It's inappropriate that she didn't ask you.
She should have explained her project and then asked for your advice. She could have asked about specific people she had met through you to find out if it was OK to reach out to them, as well as how to go about it. She should not have used your name without your permission to ask for anything, especially favors.
It's important to teach your intern how things work in an office -- with you or with anyone else -- and that includes how to engage the boss's contacts. Sit her down and tell her you are uncomfortable with the way she has been handling her outreach. Explain that she needs to talk to you first, and tell her what is acceptable to you.
Chances are she doesn't fully understand that she crossed a line here. Spell it out so there will be no reason for her to make this mistake again.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Your response to "Played the Fool" was correct, but I'd like to give a little insight. I've been where her friend was. It is very hard to receive a monetary gift and indulge yourself when you have so many bills you can't pay. I used to hate receiving money for Christmas or my birthday because I knew it would end up going toward my debt.
If you want to treat a friend to an indulgence, buy an actual gift or give a gift card for something like a day at the spa. You have to understand how hard it is for the friend. I know she would've preferred to indulge herself without feeling guilty. -- Been There, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR BEEN THERE: As you pointed out, it can be too painful to splurge on something for yourself if you are in debt. The loving friend who wants to support a friend in need has to make it easy on the friend. Otherwise, the act of offering can backfire.
As I wrote in my original response, give from your heart in a way that allows your friend to receive a luxurious benefit. In addition to gifts and gift certificates, you can give the gift of your time. Make a date with your friend to hang out and have fun -- and you pick up the tab.