Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend of 25 years has poor grammar and speaking skills. Is it ever appropriate to correct her in a way that sounds caring instead of critical? She just got a new job, and I'm afraid that she might lose it if she doesn't get her act together. I have said things to her before, but I don't know if she cares or if she even understands what I'm talking about. -- Wanting to Help, Baltimore

DEAR WANTING TO HELP: I wonder if your friend has had a problem in the past of losing a job because she didn't have a good grasp of grammar and speech. If so, and you are aware of that, you have a potential "in" for bringing it up with her. You could remind her of the challenge she had in the past and recommend that she brush up on her language skills by getting a grammar book or even taking a class. This will work primarily if she has introduced this challenge to you in the past. Otherwise, it really is solely up to her. She may choose to get support in this area, or she may end up finding a job where her powers of writing and speaking are not essential. Yes, I understand your frustration, but just as you have remained friends for 25 years in spite of any challenges you know her to have, so may she have a full and happy life without the polish you believe would so greatly help her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am starting a new position as a supervisor and would like to reinvent my leadership style in order to create consistent and impactful results. In the past I have been way too nice. What would you suggest I do to take on this new style while being authentic and approachable? -- Poised for Success, Jersey City, N.J.

DEAR POISED FOR SUCCESS: Congratulations on your new position. As a supervisor, you will have responsibility for leading others and for being sure that they are accountable for their work. One way to avoid seeming too nice is to map out a strategy for success for yourself and your team. Identify the goals, deadlines and challenges that you and your team face. Create a timeline for your team that builds in enough space to accomplish tasks in an easeful and timely manner. Check in with your team members to see if they feel that they have all of the tools they need to succeed. Get to know each person so that you glean a sense of what motivates him or her. A good leader pays attention to his or her employees with the intention of tapping into each person's strengths. Stay kind, but feel empowered to be clear, strong and prepared to offer course corrections to team members if they make imprudent choices.