Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who makes a scene every time we go out. For example, last night we had a production meeting, and afterward we decided to go to a local restaurant to grab something to eat. We sat at our table and ordered drinks; when it was time to pay for our meal, there was an issue about if we should pay taxes on alcoholic beverages. In disgust, my friend spoke to the manager about being taxed for purchasing an alcoholic beverage, and the manager informed us that only alcoholic beverages purchased from the bar were tax exempt. My friend was not happy with the manager's answer, and she made a huge scene. How can I convince my friend to not sweat the small stuff in life? -- Doing Way Too Much, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR DOING WAY TOO MUCH: Pick a time to talk to your friend when neither of you has been drinking. Being sober is important, especially when you want to convey an important message. Tell your friend that she embarrassed you and your other friends at the restaurant and explain why. Be clear that it is not that she questioned whether you should pay tax -- that is a legitimate question. It is how she handled herself and how she responded after receiving an answer that you did not like. Tell your friend that nobody appreciated the way she behaved.

She will likely become defensive, but if you feel strongly about this, you should continue the conversation. You may want to give her other examples of times when she made a scene that embarrassed you and others. She needs to see what you are talking about in order to have a chance of recognizing her behavior and accepting that it needs to change. Ultimately, you may want to exclude her from some of your social gatherings. If she asks you why, you can tell her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My manager pulled me into her office to talk about my recent behavior at our annual summer fundraiser party. She had told me that we were allowed to drink wine at the party and to be responsible; I drank a little too much, resulting in behavior that was detrimental to the company. I almost lost my job, and I would like to know how not to embarrass myself at the next company function. -- Social Drinker, Chicago

DEAR SOCIAL DRINKER: The simple answer: don't drink. If you know that you can, at least sometimes, not manage your alcohol consumption, don't chance it by drinking at a work event. While these activities are designed to be casual and fun, too many people cross the line of sobriety and end up regretting their behavior. Err on the side of caution, and just don't do it.