DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who has had a hard time finding work. I recently helped her get a freelance job where I have also been working, and she’s doing pretty well. The problem I have noticed is that she is constantly selling herself, telling stories about things she accomplished in the past. These victories are from 20-plus years ago, and the young professionals she is working with don’t care. I think it hurts her to bring up her past because it highlights her age. We still live in a society that is sensitive to age and gender. How can I suggest to her that she just do her job and stop singing her own praises? -- Helping a Friend
DEAR HELPING A FRIEND: Pull your friend aside and have a heart-to-heart talk with her. As difficult as it may be to bring up this topic, you know that she trusts you, so you are the best person to tell her. Suggest that she stop going down memory lane, and instead stay focused on the work at hand. If she handles a project well and she is asked how she knows how to do a particular task, she should then say she learned it when working on a project that she can describe.
In general, bragging about anything is annoying to those listening. Tell her what you have observed, how you have reacted to her commentary and how you have noticed that others have responded. Chances are, she doesn’t realize the effect of her behavior. She is overcompensating while trying to fit in. Suggest that she just relax and let her work speak for itself.