Thursday, November 07, 2013


Dear Maxy,
My niece is a real Debbie Downer . No matter what we talk about, she always finds something wrong with it . We spent a few days together  during the holidays  and she drove me crazy . I was telling her about my  new job . She didn't care . Honestly, all she did was complain .
At one point, I said she seems to see the glass half  empty, while I see it half full . She took offense  at my statement . I tried to give her examples of what I meant .
In the end, when she had hurt my feeling for the 100th time, I blew up and told  her off . I really didn't mean  to do that, but I was so frustrated . How can I fix that with her ?
Worn Out

Dear Worn Out ,
Your niece probably  doesn't realize  how she affects others . Often when people are overly  negative, they have low self-esteem . Sadly, when they are challenged  about it, it only helps  to support  their belief  that the world is against them .
It may help  to be  very specific  when you tell your niece  your concerns. If you can identify the situation  when she  was extremely  negative and it hurt  your feelings, describe  it to her . Through  your eyes, she may be  able to see how  her reaction hurts you .
Helping  her open her eyes  to others' perspectives  may soften her opinions  about herself  and those around her .

Dear Maxy ,
My family is divided  politically . Even though the election is over, people are still upset . When we got together over the holidays, one of my uncles  (who had to much to drink) started  talking about the presidential election  and how  he thought  the vote was rigged .
The opposing uncles jumped  in and I thought  it was going  to come to blows . It was awful . I know  they all had been  drinking, but still it was mean and ugly . When I tried to break it up, it just got worse .
What should I have done  and what can I do in the future ? They aren't going to change their views  .
Peace Maker

Dear Peace Maker ,
Tensions were high going  into the presidential election  and it was  predicted  that afterward there would be a lot of  bad feelings  no matter  who won or lost . It is also  relatively  common for extended family  to include  members of different  political persuasions . This can  be a recipe  for major conflict . In your case, the situation was exacerbated  by alcohol .
What can you do? Nothing, in the midst of a drunken fight . It's best in a situation like that  to walk away .
You could  invite anybody else who isn't intoxicated  to walk away, too. Anybody who is already lit is not  going to be able  to hear the voice of reason .

Dear Maxy ,
My assistant  has worked for me  for less than a year . Because she's the newest  member  of our team, she doesn't have any vacation days .
She asked me if she could  take time off for her mother's birthday anyway . She told me she wanted to see her family  and they always get together at her mom's house, 300 miles away .
Her  question put me in an awkward situation .  We have  rules  at my office  about vacation time, but she really  put the guilt trip on me ... so much that I gave her two days off  . She hardly said  "thank you" after all that .
I am not happy about this at all . How can I let her know  my feelings?

Dear Annoyed ,
Remember your assistant is young and in need of guidance . Rather than being upset  with her, educate her .
Tell her you are disappointed  that she seems  ungrateful  for your extra effort  to make her mother's birthday more special . Tell her you realize how much she wanted to be with her family to wish her mother a happy birthday and that you made an exception  so she could be with them .
Explain  that you expect  her to have  the basic manners  to say "thank you" and go the extra mile at work because you went the extra mile for her .

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