DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a new job, and my father calls me every day at work and wants to talk. My boss does not like when the employees are on the phone dealing with non-business matters during office hours. I do not want to hurt my dad's feelings. He is a senior citizen and has always been there for me. What can I say to him? -- I Am Working, Chicago
DEAR I AM WORKING: Set up an off-hours time to talk that can be your special time with your father. You could make it in the morning before work or at some time after work and on the weekends. Tell him how important it is to you that you get your talk time on a regular basis. Point out that you can talk at work only if it is an emergency. Explain that the rules at your new job prohibit personal phone calls. This should not hurt his feelings. It is simply stating a fact.
When he next calls at work, you can remind him right away that you can talk at your appointed time. It may take a while to get him in the new rhythm, so be patient. You may even want to tell your boss that you are working with your dad to wean him off of calling you at work. Ask your boss to be lenient with you, if at all possible, because your dad is old and you don't want to hurt his feelings.
You may find that not answering the phone sometimes is your only viable solution. You can resort to that action when you are busy and it really is inappropriate for you to have a personal conversation.