Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Helpful Friend Can Be Annoying

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who tries to be helpful but ends up being whiny. When I tell her something that I’m working on, she immediately looks to figure out how she can be of help. That is generous of her. But the next thing you know, she is blowing up my phone wanting me to stop everything I’m doing to respond to her in that moment. I am busy and can’t always do that, plus her manner is really annoying. How can I change my attitude to be more open to my friend’s help? Or better yet, how can I get her to chill a bit as she is trying to help me? -- Overwhelmed

DEAR OVERWHELMED: It is wonderful that you have someone in your corner who wants to help you. Be sure to thank her whenever you speak so that she knows you are grateful. From there, tell her that as much as you appreciate her generosity, sometimes you cannot be as responsive as she would like because you are in the midst of handling something else. Suggest that during the times that she is actively helping you with something, you schedule specific times to talk.

Beyond that, don’t be so forthcoming about everything that is going on in your life. Talk to her about things that you think you would like her to respond to in her assertive manner. Otherwise, turn the tables and listen to her talk about her own life. When you are listening, you are revealing less about yourself and creating more space for peace.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who does not view religion the same way I do. I'm accepting of people with different beliefs, but often my friend will openly disrespect my religion. He gets on a tear and starts picking at everything, including how much time I spend going to church and participating in activities beyond Sunday service. He criticizes the drama displayed during the service. (We have an active and lively congregation with jumping, music and lots of interaction.) I know this isn't right, but I wonder if I'm betraying myself and my beliefs by still communicating with him? Should I cut him off for his actions? -- Religious Challenges

DEAR RELIGIOUS CHALLENGES: Talk with your friend and let him know that you are offended by the way he talks about your religious views. Explain to him that you consider yourself to be an open-minded person. You are willing to accept people for who they are and what they believe, even if their beliefs differ from yours -- and you expect the same from him.

Point out specific instances when your friend has been rude or disrespectful about your religious views. Ask him to keep his opinions to himself. If he does not or cannot curb his negativity, then you can decide whether it is time to walk away.

(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.)