Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have worked at a prestigious law firm in midtown Manhattan for four years. I am one of the senior paralegals, and I work specifically for one of the partners of the firm. However, every graduation season (May-June), another part of my job is to introduce the new associates to firm and help them adjust and lend any helping hand I can. Every year, I get that one graduate who thinks he is a complete hotshot and who swears he will become the "best closer the firm has ever seen." This usually leads to him hitting on me in the first 10 minutes. I guess it is flattering, but I really can't take it anymore. My boss thinks it is funny, and we usually joke about the horrific pickup lines, but now I am just annoyed with it. What should I do? -- Dissed, New York City

DEAR DISSED: A mistake you and your boss made was to make light of the inappropriate comments when they first started. It is not acceptable for co-workers to try to make a pass at other co-workers, especially when there has been no overture to suggest that this is OK.

You need to learn how to put these young hopefuls in their place. The next time you hear one of the pickup lines, you can quip, "Bandying about that kind of talk instead of paying attention to the job at hand can get you ousted before you know it." You could say, "Want to try that line out on Human Resources? How far do you think you would get?" Or even, "I hope you are better at your job than you are at pickup lines."

I know this may seem hard to do, but using biting humor to put them in their place is a way of throwing cold water in their face. They likely do not know that they are being inappropriate. They probably think they are cocky and cute and even sexy. You can hold your own by standing up for yourself. Ask your boss to give them an introductory chat on how to speak to other staffers respectfully.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend, who I have been dating for three years, lied to me about what he does for a living. He told me that he worked at a brokerage firm similar to Charles Schwab, but I found out this is not the case. He works instead at three different jobs just to make what he said he did from the brokerage firm. While I wouldn't have felt differently about him if he had just told me, I feel lied to and I haven't spoken to him in a week. -- Duped, Chicago

DEAR DUPED: Your boyfriend clearly wanted to impress you. Rather than never talk to him, tell him that you would have been impressed by what he is actually doing. Lying is a deal breaker. Sit down with him and ask him to tell you if he has lied about anything else. Also, talk about the future and discuss if you care enough about each other to start over. Your decision should be based on whether you believe you can trust him moving forward.