Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Co-Worker Should Keep Opinions to Herself

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was talking to a work friend the other day, and the subject turned to a fellow co-worker who is gay. My work friend started in saying she knows we are supposed to be PC and all, but she is a Christian and believes homosexuality is a sin. She knows she should be more open to this guy, but she says it is against her religion to believe that the way he lives is acceptable. This conversation was awkward, to say the least. I understand her feelings, even though I don’t agree. But we are not supposed to discriminate against anyone on the job. Her comments went on and on about this guy and his presumed behavior. I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t sure what to do or say. Can you help? -- Sexuality and Religion, Memphis, Tennessee

DEAR SEXUALITY AND RELIGION: Go to your company handbook and research the guidelines that every employee should follow regarding discrimination. Point to the rules when you next speak to this woman, so you help her to understand she should keep her opinions to herself. Be mindful that she firmly believes she has the right to her thoughts as they mirror her understanding of the Bible.

Also tell her that her comments made you uncomfortable. Explain your views and point out that the beauty of our country is that we can all have strong opinions, but we must learn to express them so that we do not disparage others. You may not be able to change her mind, but you can decide you will not listen to her anymore or endure her criticism.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School | Sex & Gender

Worker Feels Threatened by New Hire

DEAR HARRIETTE: A guy was hired on my job last month who does exactly what I do. I’m worried because my firm is small, and no other role is filled by two people. To me, this is my death sentence. They must be trying to phase me out if they have hired another person who does the same job. What can I do to keep my job, or should I just start looking for something else now? -- Writing on the Wall, Atlanta

DEAR WRITING ON THE WALL: Take some time to observe this new employee to see how he works and what has been assigned to him. Be objective as you see his role unfold. Also, talk to your boss. Without being defensive, ask your boss what responsibilities will be allocated to the new employee and whether your role will change at all. Don’t assume you are being pushed out. Consider that the company may be expanding, or that this man will be given other duties. Get detailed information so you are informed.

If you discover he really is going to be duplicating your work, ask your boss if you are being phased out. It is smart for you to find out so you can make appropriate plans. Do not threaten. Just ask so you can know where you stand in the company.

(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.)

Read more in: Work & School