DEAR AMY: I share office space with a colleague. Our space is detached from the rest of the office.
My co-worker and I have very little in common, and by all indications she has no social life and shows signs of emotional instability (she has revealed to me that she is on anti-depressants).
The problem is that my co-worker is constantly in my space, telling me her problems, making catty comments about co-workers and, worst of all, trying to arrange for us to spend time together socially outside of work.
This creates real stress for me, Amy.
My focus at work is on the tasks at hand, and I really have no interest in spending time with her outside of work.
What is the best way to handle this situation without hurting my co-worker's feelings and causing uproar within the cozy confines of our professional setting?
I try my best to be nice to her every day, but her insistent actions are disruptive to my work, and I'm tired of having to avoid her social invitations.
-- Frustrated at Work
DEAR FRUSTRATED: I gather you don't have a door you can close. Because of that you're going to have to create a virtual one.
The boundaries you lay down will have to be finely drawn and emphasized, probably repeatedly.
Practice saying things like: "Erin, I'm sorry but I can't talk now; can you give me some privacy?" and, "I really don't want to get together outside of work." You shouldn't have to dodge someone to avoid invitations. But you do need to learn how to be clear, consistent and pleasant in your response.
Colleagues such as yours are what make the world, the workplace (and shows like "The Office") so challenging -- but also colorful.
If you can't manage your workflow because of this distraction, involve management, but if there is anything endearing about your colleague, I suggest you locate and try to enjoy that trait.
DEAR AMY: A year and a half ago, I signed a note for my granddaughter to buy a car.
We love her dearly, but since then she has ruined our credit by not making the payments. We have bailed her out two times.
Three months ago we finally had had it when the finance company was going to repossess the car for the second time.
We took the car keys and the car, and now we are making the payments.
The problem is our son and his family (this girl's parents), whom we have always been very close to, are basically shunning us.
They think we are wrong. She has told them she was making the payments.
We have asked her to pay us back the money we put up for the payments, but we get no response.
We are heartsick and hate conflicts in the family. What can we do?
We live on a limited income and need that money back.
-- Hurt Grandparents
DEAR HURT: Your family members are already treating you like a pariah due to your generosity; at this point you have little to lose in terms of the relationship and something to gain if you are able to face this calmly and recover your money.
You should call a meeting with the granddaughter and her parents. Bring all of your paperwork (she should also bring any evidence of payments she has made). Let your granddaughter know that you will dispose of this debt as quickly as possible.
One option would be for you to sell the car to a third party and pay off the loan. Another is for the parents to purchase the car from you and take over the payments on their daughter's behalf. Do all transactions "by the book."
Once you review the paperwork, the amount of money you are owed will be revealed. You can then cast your doe-like grandparental eyes upon the gathering and say, "Well, who's going to take care of this?"
DEAR AMY: "Troubled Single" was upset because a married man kept hitting on her.
Here's my suggestion for a splendid response. She should smile broadly and say, "I'd love to have a drink with you! Have your wife call me so she and I can arrange a good time!"
Unless the couple is into swinging, this should work.
I used it for years when I was single, and, after a stunned moment of silence and shocked stare, the man invariably would grin, get the message and back off.
-- Golden Girl
DEAR GOLDEN: I like this!
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