Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend has recently taken a new love interest, the first in a long time. I think this is a good learning moment for her. She's been dating him for the last few months and things have been going pretty well, but she's a control freak and gets extremely frustrated when she organizes anything and it does not run smoothly. This new guy challenges that. I think this is good for her. She usually picks guys who will follow her lead and bend over backward for her, but this guy has more of a backbone than she had anticipated. She says dealing with him can be taxing. I say she's learning a good lesson. What do you think? -- Finally Taming the Beast, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR TAMING THE BEAST: I think this is her business and you will do well to stay out of it. I highly recommend you keep your opinions to yourself about him and their relationship. Having someone challenge your friend may be good, but naturally it is difficult, especially since she is unaccustomed to this type of reaction. It may be that he is great for her, especially if he is realistic in his push-back. He could also be the exact opposite of her previous boyfriends -- maybe he is overbearing in his desire to be in control himself. You do not know, which is why it is best to stay mum.

Let her play it out.

It is true that she has the opportunity to learn a lot about herself in this relationship. If she asks you your thoughts, you can recommend that she pay attention and see what she can learn.

DEAR HARRIETTE: At my job we are in a high-stakes scenario in which my boss believes that his way is the only way that a task, of which I'm in charge, can be accomplished. My boss taught me his method, and in his eyes I failed at producing a same or similar product. He pointed out that I had not done an adequate job. I proposed another approach that I felt more comfortable executing well, and he shot it down. After I went against him and tackled the task my way, he saw that it worked just as well and gave me the OK. Did he mean to put me down, or was that just the stress talking? -- Alternative Way, Washington, D.C.

DEAR ALTERNATIVE WAY: Your boss's way may be blunt, but it wasn't necessarily a put-down. If the initial product you made using his method was inadequate, he should have told you as much. Otherwise you would be confused and the work would not have been completed to satisfaction.

It is unfortunate that he did not initially consider your alternative idea and wise of you to attempt it anyway. He may have been stressed out, or he may just be gruff. That you were successful and he could see that is excellent. Moving forward he may have more confidence in you. Trust develops over time. Keep working as hard as you can to do your job as requested. When innovation is needed, be strategic in your problem solving.