Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My kids have so much homework this year that it is hard to keep up. They have extracurricular activities including chess, soccer and swimming. They love all of their activities, but I am afraid that they won't be able to keep up at school. When I recently broached this with my kids, they got so upset. I really do think they are oversubscribed. How can I rebalance their schedules without devastating them? -- Looking for Balance, Cleveland

DEAR LOOKING FOR BALANCE: Check in with your children's teachers to see how they think your children are managing their studies thus far this school year. Express your concerns about their schoolwork versus extracurricular activities. Ask the teachers to keep you informed if their studies slip.

You may not need to cut anything out yet. Instead, let your children know that their continued participation is contingent upon good grades. You never know -- giving them this reach may be a motivator that keeps them energized about their schoolwork. If it becomes too much, have them work with you to decide what to eliminate.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got into a pretty ugly argument with one of my co-workers because she refused to listen to anything I had to say as we were preparing for a big presentation. She just kept talking when our task was to collaborate. We ended up mad at each other, and at the presentation she jumped in and did everything the way she wanted, regardless of what we had come up with as a team. It went over lukewarm. Because it wasn't a bomb, she thinks she was right. How can I help her to understand that if we are supposed to collaborate, we should do that? Our boss says it all the time, but somehow she doesn't see what my co-worker is doing. -- Blindsided, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR BLINDSIDED: Start with your boss since you have already tried with your co-worker. Ask for support in the preparation for the next project. Explain that sometimes the discussions get so heated and one-sided that it is hard for the team to work together effectively. Ask for your boss's help in managing the process so that everyone can work together in an effective and meaningful way. Be specific in your request so that you don't seem like a complainer. Ask for support in building the skill of collaboration. Perhaps your boss has some examples she can share of how she has collaborated well on projects in the past.

By positioning your concern as a request for team-building support, you potentially set yourself and your team up for success. Your co-worker does not need to be chastised. Instead, everyone on your team can benefit from the leadership that your boss offers if you convince her of its value.