DEAR AMY: I have been mentoring a young woman for about five years at my current company. I was instrumental in hiring her at this job (as well as her previous position). I am a fashion designer and have made gowns for many top celebrities. When it came time for her to marry, she chose to have her gown made by someone with far less experience and who has a reputation for making trashy and cheap clothing. I found this out by accident and have been feeling sad and insulted ever since. I have been steering clear of the young woman, who seems to have no idea how she has offended me. After so many years of friendship (or at least what I thought was such), I feel not only insult but loss. I want to let this go, but I don’t know what to do.
DEAR SAD DESIGNER: This is a tender situation for you, but as a designer for many top celebrities, you must realize that your work is not for everyone. And surely you don’t think your mentee was obligated to choose you as her dressmaker?
If she wanted to walk down the aisle looking like Dolly Parton’s backup singer, then you would not be the person for that particular job. She might have thought she wouldn’t be able to afford you. Or perhaps she didn’t want to put herself (and you) in the awkward position of being your client, as well as your mentee.
See how awkward this whole situation is now? If you had made her dress, this dynamic might have been much worse.
Communicate with her about this, but do so with the understanding that she is not responsible for your hurt feelings.
You could show an interest in her dress and offer to help if she needs any last-minute alterations. Don’t criticize her choice, but do say, “I really wish you had come to me — even if I didn’t make your dress, I would have enjoyed learning about it in advance, and it would have been great if you had given me a heads-up about it.”
DEAR AMY: I’ve wanted to see my best friend from the West Coast for several years, so I invited her to come and stay with me on the East Coast, near where we both used to live. She suggested a girls’ weekend with a third mutual friend of ours who lives nearby. This is someone I have also been friends with a long time. That was fine. She then also invited a third friend of hers from the Midwest, a woman who is perfectly nice, but whom I’ve never really enjoyed spending time with. They booked plane tickets before discussing it with me. Now this other “Midwest friend,” who was planning on coming east for a wedding, is arriving a day early. I’m not keen to take another day off work to entertain her (it is already during a crunch time). Is it OK just to let her be on her own for the day? Should I say anything to my best friend?
DEAR BUMMED: Of course it is OK to let this person be on her own for the day. She is an adult. It also sounds as if — since she is coming to town for a wedding — she won’t actually be around very much.
A “girls’ weekend” does not mean that you are tasked with providing entertainment for everyone — it implies that everyone will do her bit. You don’t say where she is staying, but if your friend reflexively invited this additional person to be your houseguest without asking, then — yes, you should definitely speak to her.
DEAR AMY: The letter from “Speechless” rang my bell. Speechless described a workplace dynamic that sounded like the middle-school cafeteria, with some older workers basically ignoring and bullying a group of newer workers. I’m an HR professional, and have seen this type of dynamic. I thought your recommendations of how to integrate the two groups were useful, but additionally, all workers should be told that there is a zero-tolerance policy toward any bullying behavior. It can create a truly toxic environment not only for the perpetrators and their victims, but also for their colleagues.
DEAR REP: Comparing a bullying dynamic at work to life in middle school is often meant to be droll, but it is no laughing matter.