Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am having issues with a friend. She thinks very highly of herself and often gets angry because of the way she perceives my attitude toward her. I love having her as a friend, but it becomes very stressful because she constantly gets upset as a result of my "tone." The other day I was in a huge rush, and I gave her a brief hello -- she was upset! If I stand up for myself, she gets even angrier, saying things like, "Who do you think you are to talk to me like that?" I don't know how to handle her confidence. What do you suggest I do? -- Tone-deaf, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR TONE-DEAF: Tone is a tricky thing. I believe that the way you say something is far more important and impactful than what you actually say. It is possible to be brief with a hello and to make it full and warm and welcoming. Know that there is a chance that you do have a "tone" with her, especially if she intimidates or frustrates you. Your conflicted emotions around her could come out in a derogatory way.

It could also be true that your friend is arrogant and self-centered. She may be the kind of person who is accustomed to having people cater to her, and when you don't, she feels offended.

The bottom line for you is to focus on yourself. Your responsibility is to take care of you, to build your own self-confidence and behave in an honorable way. That does not mean you should be a pushover. Stand your ground when she is mean or rude. Walk away when you feel the situation is going nowhere. Ultimately, you must evaluate whether this is a friendship worth keeping.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother never pulls his car far enough down the driveway. He leaves it at the top, so that when I pull in, I have no choice except to park right behind him, and he gets stuck. If he were to park at the bottom, there would be room for me to park next to him so that he could get out if he needed. I have tried telling him nicely that he needs to pull the car all the way down, and he is momentarily receptive then neglects to do anything. It's extremely frustrating because I have to be on his schedule and have to drop whatever I am doing so I can move my car if he needs to leave. I have become so upset with the situation that I can't help but raise my voice when I come home or refuse to move my car. That has put strain on our relationship because he becomes angry in response. How can I approach this situation? -- Parking Rage, Scarsdale, N.Y.

DEAR PARKING RAGE: This is where parents come in! You have attempted to reason with your brother. Now it is time to bring in the voice of reason. Describe the situation to your parents and ask them to intervene.