1/11/2014 10:44:00 AM Circle of friends wishes to reach out
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a group of friends. How do my friends and I make a friendship connection with a woman that we previously didn't really like? We want to be closer to her now because we realize that out of our friend group, she is the one who isn't really close to anyone. Her father recently died, and we know that she is sad. Even though we don't love her personality because she can sometimes be loud and a little mean, we feel that we should try to be there for her. How should we go about that? -- Ready to be Friends, Boston
DEAR READY TO BE FRIENDS: It is wonderful that your hearts are softening for this friend during her time of need. Reach out to her and let her know how sorry you are that her father passed. Either individually or as a group, invite her to do something social with you. Check in to see how she is managing.
It is possible that she could shed some of her presumed meanness if she believes you and your other friends are authentically interested in being her friend. If she falls back into mean behavior, tell her in the moment when something she says hurts your feelings. When she is loud, let her know. There's a good chance that she doesn't realize her volume.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work with a personal shopper at the local department store, and he helps me (for free) to find what I need when I go shopping. He is nice and extremely helpful, but there is one thing that drives me crazy. He has halitosis! Nearly every time I work with him, his breath smells. Sometimes I bring mints and share them with him. Other times I try to stay a safe distance away. Apart from this being awkward, I also feel like he should know that he has bad breath. As a salesperson, he needs to be at the top of his game, which includes smelling fresh and healthy. Right? -- Sensitive Shopper, New York City
DEAR SENSITIVE SHOPPER: Your heart is in the right place. What you can do is to schedule a shopping appointment with him and tell him you want to have a meeting before you get started. In a private area, commend him for his great work during the time that you have been using his services. Tell him you have something sensitive you need to share with him. Explain that you have noticed that he often has bad breath, and that you are concerned that it may stand in the way of him getting more sales. Add that he probably should get a physical because halitosis is often a sign of a medical condition. Remind him of how special he is to you and that you are offering this feedback with the greatest of respect.
If he doesn't want to talk about it, that's fine. If so, be honest in what you tell him. Then, continue to shop.