Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Struggles To Trust Working With Women

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got into a huge argument with a woman who said she wanted to help me work on my business plan. She agreed to a particular fee; it was low, but promised higher returns when I met with success. After beginning to do the work, she flaked time and again, insulted me along the way and never completed what she agreed to do. On top of all of that, she had the nerve to say that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I would never amount to anything. It was awful.

I hear people say how wonderful it is for women to work together. That has not been my experience. Women are usually the ones who stab me in the back. How can I get over this feeling that I can’t trust women to be in my corner? -- Duped By a Woman

DEAR DUPED BY A WOMAN: This one experience does not need to represent the whole of your engagement with women. Do your best to look at this in isolation. Evaluate it carefully. What merit, if any, do this woman’s comments have? Is there something you could have done differently that might have helped the project to be more successful? Can you recall ever speaking to her in disparaging tones? Reflect on your behavior, and acknowledge anything that you could have handled differently.

Next, end this relationship. You do not need to work with someone who is rude and unproductive. Sever your ties. Let her know that you are disappointed with the way that she handled herself. Pay her only what you are legally bound to pay.

Do your best to keep your disdain for women limited to her. Resist the urge to look upon all women with the same lens. See each person for who she is. Your life will be richer if you can.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son was not a very good student in high school, and now he is reaping what he sowed. He has applied to quite a few colleges, but he does not have a good chance of getting in to any of his favorites. I convinced him to apply to a few state schools and even community colleges as safety schools. He got mad at me when I made these recommendations, but I know that it is tough to get in to good schools, even when you have good grades. How can I encourage my son to keep trying when it is likely that he will have slim pickings? -- Next Stop College

DEAR NEXT STOP COLLEGE: Talk to your son about his future. What does he want to do with his life? It is absolutely time for him to take steps to make that happen. You cannot do it for him.

Point out that if his career of choice requires higher education, he needs to raise his grades in order to get it. Community college is one way to take classes and up his GPA, which may give him a chance to complete his education at a four-year college or university. Encourage him to take these next steps seriously. Make it clear that you do not intend to support him financially when he is an adult, so he must figure it out now.

(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.)