DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends and I went to a concert last Saturday night. While we were walking into the subway station, two of my friends stood next to the entrance and said they didn’t have metro cards. One of them said he didn’t have any money on him, and the other one refused to pay the $2.75 to get on the train. The rest of us swiped our metro cards and then watched our friends who refused to get metro cards hop the turnstile. Suddenly, two police officers rounded the corner and stopped all five of us. I stayed quiet the entire time and let my outgoing friends do all the talking. The next thing I know, all five of us were being handcuffed. I was so terrified that it prompted me to speak up and say that the situation was unfair. Why should all of us be held accountable for the actions of two people? Once I explained what happened the police, the three of us who paid for metro cards were let go.
Now I’m being looked at as a traitor and a tattletale for bailing out only two of my friends. How can I make the other two guys, who ended up getting in trouble with the police, see that I had the right intentions? -- Good Guy, Bronx, New York
DEAR GOOD GUY: Stop trying to convince them of anything. Your friends knowingly chose to break the law. You were right to speak up for yourself. Let this incident show you that this may not be the best group of friends for you. If you do stay connected to them, make it clear that you like them but that you are not willing to lie for them or break the law with them.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am having trouble with one of my co-workers. She and I work together at a clothing store. I was assigned to show her the ropes since she is new, and I have been working here for a long time. At first, her work was OK, but recently she has become increasingly sloppy. She leaves her assignments half done and often wanders off to chitchat with other employees. Every time I try to explain the right way to do a task, she waves me off and doesn’t take my advice. She doesn’t seem to care about the quality of the work she does. I know that I should say something to our manager, but I also don’t want to be the reason she gets fired. What should I do? -- Concerned Co-Worker, Cleveland
DEAR CONCERNED CO-WORKER: Since you were assigned to support this employee, you have an obligation to keep your boss informed about how she’s doing. You can frame it in such a way that should not automatically lead to her firing.
Go to your supervisor and ask for advice on how to motivate this employee to stay focused. Describe what you like about her and what you think her strengths are. Point out the areas that you think aren’t serving her well. And then ask for suggestions for what you can do to help motivate her. This way you are not singularly pointing out her weaknesses. You are also asking for guidance on how to be a good manager yourself. This will show your supervisor that you see where you can grow in your efforts to motivate others. Hopefully this will help both of you without leading to her firing. But she has to step up in order to stay on staff.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)