Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employer Has No Respect for Reader's Time

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a client who has very little regard for the people she works with. She says that she wants all hands on deck to help her with whatever big project she is working on, but then she doesn’t set herself or the project up for success. Most recently, she sent an email for a mandatory meeting at 11 a.m. on Sunday -- church time. And the request (or demand) was sent at 11 p.m. the night before. I was headed out when I noticed the invitation, so I canceled my plans and stayed in, which made me resentful of her and unhappy not to be able to go to church. When we got on the call, she didn’t even bother to acknowledge that she had inconvenienced us, because she doesn’t care.

I need this gig, which, by the way, is freelance, so I don’t even get paid for these extra meetings. How can I have a better attitude while working with this woman? -- Undone, Cincinnati

DEAR UNDONE: What’s good about your question is that you aren’t asking how to change your client, as that is not possible. Changing your attitude -- and sometimes your actions -- is wise for your own well-being and mental and spiritual health. You could have apologized profusely and said that you could not attend the Sunday meeting because you would be in church. That could be followed up by an email or call asking for the notes so you could stay updated. You can take care of yourself by putting yourself first, remembering the value of the project for your own well-being and choosing to stay positive no matter what your client requests -- even when you have to say no.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Reader Needs to Show Initiative at Dream Company

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been volunteering for a company for two years in order to gain experience. The company is small, and it focuses on exactly the type of work I want to do. My problem is that I realize that other people have come in as unpaid interns and have been hired in paying roles. Nobody in the company has ever told me, not even once, that there were any openings available. I have donated my time for these months in hopes that one day they might consider me for a position. Now I feel like a dunce for not pushing for it all along. What can I do to change my employment status? -- Losing Step, New Orleans

DEAR LOSING STEP: You have taken your future for granted, in the sense that you expected someone else to push you along. That’s not how it works. You must show initiative. Start by revising your resume. Include on it the skills and responsibilities that you have gained in your role at this company. Name the role based on what you do, rather than calling it “volunteer” or “intern.” Next, go to your supervisor and pitch yourself for a paid role at the company. Point out all that you have learned and are applying to the job. Don’t stop there. Look more broadly in your field, and send your resume to competitors. You may just be ready to be hired somewhere else.

(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 | Money