Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants to Warn Friend Away From Company

DEAR HARRIETTE: I worked for a couple of years for a company that had a fantastic mission but horrible management. I couldn’t stay there because it was ridiculous how badly the management treated the staff.

A good friend of mine just applied to work at the company and asked me if I would recommend it. I feel terrible wanting to tell her to run for the hills, but I can’t recommend working there. I also don’t want to badmouth them. I discovered that they are listed on with plenty of past employees telling horror stories of what I already know. Would it be wrong of me to refer my friend to the reviews? -- Walk Away, Chicago

DEAR WALK AWAY: Your friend has asked you for an endorsement. I recommend that you share your opinion about working at the company. Keep your comments clear and factual rather than emotional. State what you liked about the experience -- and what you did not like. Be careful not to badmouth anyone. Your comments are important because your friend trusts you. Your mindful criticism is also key, given that your friend may end up working there.

You can go a step further and point her to Let her know that she will see anonymous reviews from people who also worked there, so that she can consider more than your opinion. In the end, many people take jobs even after they have been warned about issues that could be stumbling blocks. Often, they make this choice for economic reasons. Whatever your friend decides, do not judge her. But do tell her the truth as you understand it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: It would be an understatement to say that we have had a tough year this year. But somehow we have managed to get by and be happy, too. My husband has taken up playing the guitar. He loves it, though he hasn’t had any formal training. He sounds OK, given that it’s still pretty new. I was thinking that a nice gift for him would be guitar lessons. We have been pinching pennies a lot this year, but the cost for lessons is within our budget. Do you think I should ask him first or just give him the gift? I think he would love it. -- Make Him Smile, Dallas

DEAR MAKE HIM SMILE: If you feel confident that you can afford the lessons and that there is flexibility to schedule them at times that work for your husband, go for it. Since he has grown such an affinity for the instrument, he will likely be thrilled that you got him such a thoughtful gift.

Given that you are watching your money, you may need to tell him not to worry about the cost of the lessons, because they fit comfortably into your budget. Add that happiness and joy are key to your ability to move through this difficult time and pave the way for your future together.

(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.)