Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends gives me the cold shoulder whenever they are around someone popular. When we hang out together, it is fun, and we share a bunch of secrets, laughs and jokes. We are in high school, and I appreciate this because it’s not easy for me to make friends. But if they are around someone who is cool, it's like my friend forgets about me completely and tries to impress these people. It hurts my feelings, and I am unsure how to bring it up. -- Dumped

DEAR DUMPED: You have to bring this up with your friend. Next time you are alone, ask them why they do that to you -- namely, ignoring you when cool people come around. Tell them that at first you thought it was a fluke, but you have noticed that they do it all the time. You don’t understand how you could go from being tight and enjoying each other’s company to being instantly ignored when these people come around that they are trying to impress.

Be direct. Tell your friend that it hurts your feelings. Add that you aren’t asking them to ignore those people, but if you are together, it would be good manners to include you in the conversation rather than ignoring you. If they refuse to consider your perspective or forget to change their behavior and be more inclusive, you should get up and walk away. Don’t just stay there and allow them to ignore you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I get anxious whenever I'm in public, and it affects my life negatively. I am in the hospitality industry, and I know I have to be a people person, but in reality, I feel as though I can't take being in public. I get nervous and embarrassed and feel as though all eyes are on me. I feel like I get negative attention when I am outside, and it has caused me to become an introvert and not socialize with family or friends. It even has had a negative impact on previous jobs and job interviews. Can you provide me any tips to look past this fear of being around others? -- Past the Fear

DEAR PAST THE FEAR: In my work, I teach people how to present themselves effectively. This includes how to get out of your head and become confident in the moment. The first thing you should do is get prepared before you go to a public function. Research the purpose of the event, and find out who is expected to be there. Read up on the organization and the individuals. Think about what you would like to know about them before you arrive. Formulate brief questions so that you are ready to speak when the moment is right

Arrive on the early side. That’s when most of the important people are present and before the event gets too crowded. Using your research, identify people to speak to. Mention something relevant that you learned in your reading. Connect with them based upon mutual interests.

You might also consider taking classes at Toastmasters. It is an affordable option for learning how to become a confident speaker in public settings when you may feel nervous or unsure.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)