Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boss Is Too Demanding During Business Trip

DEAR HARRIETTE: This will be my second time going on a business trip for my company. There are five of us who will be traveling and staying together in one house, and I am not looking forward to it. Last year when we did this, my boss was way too demanding. She wanted all of us to eat together every day. Sometimes that was OK, but other times I just wanted time to myself. She thought nothing of calling meetings late at night, since we were together. There seemed to be no boundaries.

I want to have more space this time, but I don’t want to offend my boss. This may not seem like a big deal, but we work 12-hour days regularly. When we were away last year, my boss acted like we were on 24-hour call. We are not being paid for that time. I need personal time, even when I am working hard. I am not a slacker. I give my all, but I need time off, too. What can I say or do to protect myself? -- Work Trip, Detroit

DEAR WORK TRIP: Talk to your boss privately before the trip. Tell her that you are committed to getting the work done to the best of your ability, and point out that you need downtime during the trip to do your best. Lay out your concerns. Tell her that sometimes you need to eat alone, and sometimes you need to be in your room or go for a walk or otherwise have time off so you can give your all when you are working. Let her know that you want to make her aware of this because last year she asked for more than you can offer this year. Add that you are not trying to make anything difficult for her; it’s the opposite. She will get more out of you if you can recharge your batteries while you are on the trip.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I visited my hometown this summer and ran into a few people I do not remember well. Here’s the thing: I moved away many years ago while most of them stayed home. They have stayed close and built their lives around each other. There’s something nice about seeing how close they are. On the flip side, it was awkward for me, as I am not part of their world anymore. In fact, I don’t remember many of the stories we shared in high school. I would like to get reacquainted with them, but I feel like they have an inside story that I don’t know. Also, they seem to put me on a pedestal because I went to the Big Apple and built my life while they stayed at home. How can I manage this situation? Part of me would like to get to know these kids as adults. -- All Grown Up, Bronx, New York

DEAR ALL GROWN UP: If you have decided that you want to devote time to reconnecting with these people, start by telling them. Admit that you don’t remember many details from your past, nor do you want to live in the past. Tell them that you would like to get to know them today and forge a friendship in the present. Tell them you appreciate the relationship that you witnessed among them and you would be honored to be included in their circle. Be fully present as you see how things unfold. Let the relationships take time to blossom.

(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.)