Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbor Has Yet to Announce Pregnancy

DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor is pregnant. I know because another neighbor in my building told me, but my neighbor hasn’t said anything directly. I know when I was pregnant I didn’t tell anyone for months because I had previously had a miscarriage. I’m wondering if I should say anything to congratulate her, or wait until she lets me know. We are friendly but not close. I don’t want to seem insensitive since having a baby is such a precious thing. Will I seem rude if I don’t mention it? -- Being Neighborly, Bronx, New York

DEAR BEING NEIGHBORLY: Trust your instincts and say nothing for a while. If all goes well, she will begin to show. Don’t mention it even if she is showing a little, because she may be keeping it to herself until she feels certain the baby is growing well. If you notice her with a huge belly, obviously say something then. Congratulate her. You can congratulate her warmly and ask how she is feeling. Since you are neighbors, you can also ask if she needs anything. Be welcoming without being pushy.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics

Holiday Idea Fails to Impress Boss

DEAR HARRIETTE: At my last job, my company had all of us participate in Secret Santa. It was a lot of fun, so I asked my new boss if we could add Secret Santa to our celebrations. She seemed lukewarm about it. She didn’t straight out say no, but I could tell she isn’t a fan of the idea. She gave me permission to take a poll at the office to see if others like the idea.

I wonder if I should just let it go since she wasn’t enthusiastic. I want to be viewed positively by my boss. What should I do? -- 'Tis the Season, Raleigh, North Carolina

DEAR 'TIS THE SEASON: Your boss’s response may have been tepid, but it wasn’t a no. Follow her advice and ask the staff if they would like to participate in Secret Santa. Outline how it would work. Typically, people’s names go into a bowl and everyone selects a name. There should be a small dollar amount as the cap for spending. Keeping the cost low prevents others from feeing stretched, and it also requires them to be creative. Gifts should be appropriate, meaning nothing romantically suggestive, something reflective of the person’s interests or personality. Often Secret Santa gifts are given out at a company holiday party. If your company already hosts such an event, suggest tagging on to that. If not, the gifts can be given independently.

After you have laid it out for your co-workers, ask them to share whether they will be interested in participating. Since you want to bring your boss back a clear picture of the staff’s interest, ask them to email you with their thoughts either way. That way you have documentation if needed to back up the totals you give your boss. If the team wants to proceed, let her know and coordinate it. If they do not, let your boss know that, and be sure not to have hard feelings. Your boss should view you positively no matter the outcome if you remain a team player.

(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.)