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DEAR HARRIETTE: My four best friends and I have been taking annual vacations every spring since we were 23. We’re planning another vacation now, and my friends want to bring new people I’ve never heard of before. I don’t think it will be the same if we bring a bunch of new people. I want to tell them that I’m not comfortable with adding new people to our longstanding tradition, but I don’t want to sound rude or awkward. Should I tell them how I feel? — Changing Traditions
DEAR CHANGING TRADITIONS: I wonder why they didn’t discuss this with you, as it sounds like they talked about it amongst themselves. Of course you should express your thoughts and feelings. Change is always challenging, even when it is a good idea. How you handle change is what’s at issue here. Sit down with your friends and tell them that this idea makes you uncomfortable. Ask how and when it came up and why they like it. Hear them out.
As you are all maturing and your lives are expanding, it is natural that some of you could want to expand the group invited on the trip. But there could also be a compromise option. What if you keep your intimate friend trip every other year, adding the bigger group in the off year? That way you save space for the five of you as you also welcome others. Float that idea.
DEAR HARRIETTE: An older male co-worker of mine yelled at me in front of everyone. He completely belittled me and even put his finger in my face while he was yelling. I’ve never felt so disrespected. Nobody stood up for me. I definitely feel that what happened to me was both sexist and racist. HR told me that there’s nothing they can do about what happened to me because I wasn’t physically assaulted. What can I do? — Lower Your Voice
DEAR LOWER YOUR VOICE: Document his interaction with you. If he continues to lash out or treat you differently than other employees — thereby creating a hostile work environment — carefully record what happens. You should report it to your direct supervisor and to human resources. You may also want to engage an outside attorney with whom you discuss the situation. Legal counsel can give you more insight into what grounds you may have to protect yourself if this unwanted, aggressive behavior is ongoing.
There are three forms of workplace harassment: verbal (including written), physical and visual. It is sometimes difficult to prove when someone is harassing you, but that doesn’t mean you should allow it to continue. The United States government does have protections in place against harassment on the job.