DEAR HARRIETTE: I just saw a story in my local newspaper about the company where the mother of one of my daughter’s friends works. It was terrible. The company is being accused of discrimination, and it looks like a lawsuit is imminent. The woman I know has an important job at the company. While it is unlikely that she is directly involved in the controversy, I feel bad for her. Her company is under terrible scrutiny, and everybody is talking about it.
I want to reach out to this woman to tell her I am there for her. Is that a good thing to do? I don’t really have any advice. I’m not a lawyer or anything, but I imagine that things must be awfully tense in her office, given the breaking news. Do you think it’s a good idea to reach out to her? -- Under Fire
DEAR UNDER FIRE: It is thoughtful of you to want to provide moral support to this woman at such a challenging time. Why not start by sending her a text, if you have her phone number? Tell her that you are thinking of her and want her to know that you are around if she needs to talk. If she responds, invite her to join you for coffee or drinks sometime soon. If she does not, reach out again in a week or so and extend an invitation to get together. If she agrees to see you, be a good listener, not an interrogator. If your intention is to have this woman’s back, let her share what she feels comfortable discussing, and keep her thoughts to yourself.
Should you feel the need to let her know your feelings about the controversy, ask her if she is up for discussing it before you launch. Your personal opinion is not the issue here. If a lawsuit is imminent, her company’s problems are far bigger than you. Don’t complicate her life. Unless she asks for your input, keep your mouth shut.