Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Put in Tough Position With Boss

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss’ son works in my department. A few days ago, my boss called me into his office to ask if I thought his son deserved a promotion. I hesitated, and my boss said I could have a few days to observe and come back to him with a final answer. I have been working in the department far longer than his son, so I would like to use this opportunity to mention that I should be considered for a promotion. Is this the right setting to do this? His son does not deserve a promotion after only a few months on the job. -- My Time to Shine, Pensacola, Florida

DEAR MY TIME TO SHINE: Tread carefully on this one. Do your best to address your boss’ son separately from yourself. Pay attention to the son, and observe how he works. Be prepared to report back to your boss with specifics of what you believe his son is doing well and where he might have room to grow. Note the roles and responsibilities of his position. Based on that, is there room for a promotion? Is it common practice at your company to promote so quickly?

Before the conversation ends, ask your boss if you can inquire about another matter. Remind him of how long you have worked for the company and what you have accomplished. Point to the qualifications for the next job up from yours, and tell him why you think you should be considered for the job. If the son is promoted anyway, do your best not to be upset or jealous. You cannot compete with him. You must stay focused on cultivating your talents.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college student who is paying for her own education. My friend, "Sarah," and I have bonded over dreading tuition-payment time, but recently she appears to be very rich. She's gotten nice handbags, cash and weekend getaways from what I can tell on her social media. I suspect an older man is helping her out. Should I ask her to open up to me? I never see Sarah working anymore. -- Sugar Daddy, Memphis, Tennessee

DEAR SUGAR DADDY: You may be right about your friend, but before you inquire, ask yourself why you want to know. What will you say to your friend if you learn that she has someone footing her bill right now? While I’m sure you don’t think it is a good idea (I don’t either), it will be difficult to convince your friend that she is making the wrong decision while she is in the throes of it.

If you do end up talking to Sarah, you might tell her that you are concerned for her. Although it may seem like fun right now to be taken care of, this usually comes with strings attached. You could remind her of her long-term goals and encourage her not to forget them. You do not need to know who is paying her bills.

(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.)