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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

12/4/2019 7:19:00 AM
Group's dysfunction causes volunteer to consider quitting

DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a public service organization that is largely dysfunctional. I know that's a bold statement, but I'm not kidding. I joined thinking that we were going to do good work for children in need in our community, but it looks like what we do more than anything is argue and bicker over little things that shouldn't matter. I have tried to speak up for the people we are supposed to represent, but I feel like the arguing is drowning out the good work that we are trying to do. I feel like it is time for me to resign my position. Some friends in the organization are encouraging me to run for president instead. I just don't think that I can make a big enough difference, even if I could win. I'm also not a quitter. What should I do? -- Wanting the Best

DEAR WANTING THE BEST: Human dynamics can get in the way of humanitarian work, unfortunately. If you ask around, you will probably hear that bickering is the culprit for many a dashed dream. That said, in your case you have to decide if you have the energy and coalition around you to fight for the children. You are right that you cannot do it by yourself, but if you have a large enough group of active members who would be willing to support you if you did take over the leadership, go for it. Walking away will not likely wake the group to better behavior.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Three of my college friends are getting married this summer. I am close to all of them and want to attend all three weddings, but I already know that I will have to make some cuts. One is in our hometown. Two are destination weddings. I can probably go to one of the travel weddings, but not both. How do I decide? And what do I say to my friend whose wedding I cannot attend? -- Wedding Blues

DEAR WEDDING BLUES: When wedding season arrives in your friend group and multiple friends choose to marry in a short time period, this often occurs. Attendees have to make choices that are weighted by finances and time. To figure out whose wedding to attend, consider a few factors. Who are you closest to? Which destination is more affordable and the best timing for you? Which friend would be the most understanding if you could not make it? Which invitation did you get first? Answer these questions, and consider the answers.

In the end, you should be thoughtful and honest with all of your friends. To the bride whose wedding you cannot attend, admit that you simply cannot afford to come. Apologize for your absence. Tell her you love her and look forward to supporting her in the months and years to come. You may also want to invite her and her husband to a special dinner with you after their wedding. You should also let her know that you will be attending a couple of your friend's weddings, so that she is not shocked if she sees you or learns about your presence at other affairs.

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.

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