Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Toots Her Own Horn at Work

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who has had a hard time finding work. I recently helped her get a freelance job where I have also been working, and she’s doing pretty well. The problem I have noticed is that she is constantly selling herself, telling stories about things she accomplished in the past. These victories are from 20-plus years ago, and the young professionals she is working with don’t care. I think it hurts her to bring up her past because it highlights her age. We still live in a society that is sensitive to age and gender. How can I suggest to her that she just do her job and stop singing her own praises? -- Helping a Friend

DEAR HELPING A FRIEND: Pull your friend aside and have a heart-to-heart talk with her. As difficult as it may be to bring up this topic, you know that she trusts you, so you are the best person to tell her. Suggest that she stop going down memory lane, and instead stay focused on the work at hand. If she handles a project well and she is asked how she knows how to do a particular task, she should then say she learned it when working on a project that she can describe.

In general, bragging about anything is annoying to those listening. Tell her what you have observed, how you have reacted to her commentary and how you have noticed that others have responded. Chances are, she doesn’t realize the effect of her behavior. She is overcompensating while trying to fit in. Suggest that she just relax and let her work speak for itself.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Work & School

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am blessed to have a mother who is approaching her 90th year. She is fortunate to have quite a few friends her age who are still alive. I guess it’s natural that they are having all kinds of health challenges. Every few months there’s another issue. One has heart palpitations. The other got a pacemaker. Another is losing her memory. One of the few husbands left has inexplicable bleeding issues. And yet they are here. How can we, their children, stay upbeat when their health problems are scaring us? This came up again during the holidays when one of my mother’s best friends was hospitalized on Christmas Day. -- Elder Care

DEAR ELDER CARE: Keeping things in perspective may help. You are so fortunate to have your mother and her friends in your life and doing their best as they advance in their years. You are now in a stage of life where you are having to care for your parents in the ways that they cared for you as a child. Often, elders require lots of hands-on care to manage from day to day.

Perhaps you can create an informal support group with your peers who have elderly parents. As your roles evolve into caregivers, be there for one another to talk about your parents’ issues and your own ability to handle the realities of each day. You can create a group chat, a weekly call or a get-together if you are in the same town. Just talking to each other will help you to feel less isolated.

(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: Family & Parenting | Mental Health | Friends & Neighbors