Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Should Feel Free to Challenge Elder

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been recently hired as a copywriter. This part-time gig puts me below the level of assistant. I have been getting pestered by the assistant in and out of work hours about my progress. I am frustrated because I feel like she is concentrating her lack of power onto me because I am the only person below her. I don’t want to be put out of a job, but I cannot be receiving multiple text messages and calls on days that I am not even working! -- Fed Up, Austin, Texas

DEAR FED UP: Do some sleuthing at your job to get a sense of how you can ensure that your work is properly received by the boss above this assistant. Figure out the office dynamics, and work to forge relationships with this woman as well as others in the office. Be kind to her at all times.

When you are not at work, don’t be so available. If you receive texts during your off hours, do not respond immediately unless it seems to be an emergency. Also, let the assistant know that when you aren’t at work, you are often unavailable to communicate with the office. You do not have to go into detail as to what you are doing. Just draw the line about how accessible you can be -- without being rude. Assure her that you will have your work in on time and that if you have any questions or concerns, you will let her know.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)