DEAR HARRIETTE: I am half-deaf, and because of it, I have a learning disability. I just started a new job, and the hiring manager is aware of my disability. Now that he is training me, it is clear that he is becoming frustrated as it takes me longer to learn and process new information than the average person. He doesn't bring up my disability or ask if he is going too fast, but when I ask him to slow down, he tells me that this is the job pace -- I need to be able to keep up or I will not succeed in this job and should consider something else. I am confident that I can do that work; I just need more time to learn and process everything at first. How do I professionally correct him about my disability and defend myself? -- Hear Me Out
DEAR HEAR ME OUT: Have a direct conversation with him. Tell him about your learning process in relation to your disability. Explain that it takes you a little longer to grasp directions, but once you understand, you can perform at full speed. Ask him to have patience with you during these early days. When you do believe that you understand the processes that you are learning, be sure to let him know. Check and see if there is another employee who can be a buddy for you, so that if you need support later, you can turn to that person rather than your hiring manager to get help.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend and I are designing a clothing line together. She is a model I met doing a fashion internship where I was a seamstress. I am a designer at heart; I make all my own clothes and have always had a dream to start my own brand. We decided to go off on our own to meet with investors to kickstart our line and production. She helps me with the business end since she has met a lot of people while modeling. She set up an important virtual meeting with an investor who could change everything for us. While meeting with the investor, she hijacked the interview and changed the brand name and our whole inspiration and idea for the line.
After the meeting, I told her how upset I was that she had changed my vision and not spoken to me about it. She told me that if we are going to use her connections, this company is going to go her way. This is supposed to be a partnership, and I can't start a clothing line that isn't me. How do I back out and take my designs? -- Design With Heart
DEAR DESIGN WITH HEART: Unless you have signed a contract with her, you can simply walk away -- with your designs in tow. If you are already legally entangled, get an attorney and hash it out. You may want to work with an attorney anyway to ensure that she doesn't try to steal your designs. Consider this a wake-up call. You cannot do business with someone you cannot trust. Walk away from her now.