DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a gymnastics coach who is dedicated and motivated to make our team better. He puts his attention toward practice and the girls only when we are in the gym, and he is uninterested in dealing with anything that involves the girls outside of the gym. It is hard for him to understand that he has to be a part of both worlds in order to succeed in the gym. How do I approach my coach about my concern for his lack of participation? -- Current Gymnast, Seattle
DEAR CURRENT GYMNAST: As you already know, coaches are often strong-willed and set in their ways regarding how to motivate their teams. With that in mind, you have to be strategic and creative in order to get your coach to consider another approach to how he engages his students.
Take a personal approach. Tell him that you are feeling disconnected from him. You spend endless hours working together, which means you do not have time to develop many other bonds. When he is unwilling or uninterested in bonding with you in the rest of your life, that leaves you feeling unsupported. Tell him. Ask him to be a bridge for you to the rest of your life. Ultimately, you do want him to let go, but you don’t want him to be abrupt. Ask him to help you and the team strike a balance between gymnastics and your personal lives.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who expects me to put all of my attention toward her. We are very close, but I have things that I have to do during the day, such as school and hanging out with my other friends. When I don’t see her, she gets angry with me and won’t talk to me, making me feel guilty, but she isn’t my only priority. This is an ongoing issue, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. How do I tell her that I care about her but can’t spend every second of the day with her without getting into an argument? I have a few friends in school and from a couple of social clubs. She doesn’t. -- Charismatic Friend, Cincinnati
DEAR CHARISMATIC FRIEND: Your challenge is that you and your friend have different ways of engaging others, and you have different ways of understanding friendship. You have to educate her so that she will not feel abandoned and you will not feel overwhelmed.
Remind your friend of how much you love and appreciate her. Tell her that you never mean to hurt her, but you do have hobbies and other friends. Be direct and let her know that you will not spend every free moment with her, but that does not mean that you are rejecting her. Instead, it means you are living your life. Encourage her to branch out and build additional bonds.
(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.)