Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Caring Neighbor Doesn't Want to Overshare

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my neighbors is gravely ill and hospitalized. I learned this when I ran into his wife the other day. I have stayed in touch and offered to help in any way that I can. I think that this should include NOT talking about his illness with other people. I know I wouldn't want people in my business if I were in the hospital. That said, I'm not sure what to say if people ask about him. Others know that we are friends, and I am not sure how to handle inquiries. I don't think it would be helpful to send them to his wife because she is dealing with his illness. What do I do? -- Sensitive Neighbor, Bronx, N.Y.

DEAR SENSITIVE NEIGHBOR: This is when you should check in with your friend. When you speak to her next, ask her what, if anything, she wants you to say to others who may ask about her husband. Let her guide you on this.

In general, you are correct in thinking that you should not talk about your neighbor's illness including whatever reports his wife is giving you. Being a sounding board for her is likely helpful. Keeping whatever she tells you in confidence is essential for her to feel safe sharing with you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, I had to let a business partner of mine go because he was not handling his responsibilities. I am not good at firing people, so I didn't handle it well. I asked my partner to stay on board with a limited role in the company. My partner did not like the new offer, so he decided to launch his own business venture. I made the mistake of not getting all of the usernames and passwords to our websites from my former partner before he left, and now I am unable to reach him. What should I do while I am trying to locate my former business partner? -- Loose Ends, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR LOOSE ENDS: Contact the host companies for your websites immediately, and work with them to change all of your passwords. You should not need your former business partner to do that. If it turns out that you are not listed as an authorized host, you may need to prove that you own the business and the sites. It could be a bit of a challenge to navigate, but you can do it.

You recognize the importance of having all of your security information in your possession. Now that there are so many password-protected resources, it is essential for that information to be held in a safe place. When passwords change, that information should be stored in a safe place as well.

To protect your company, you must change all passwords so that your former partner has no access to any of your accounts. Change all Internet passwords regularly -- hackers are known to get into all kinds of accounts. Safeguard yourself from as much exposure as you can.