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Dear Harriette by Harriette Cole

Grown brother has poor manners as a houseguest

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 30-year-old older brother has very poor houseguest etiquette. On several occasions, he has shown up to my home uninvited and helped himself to the contents of my fridge without asking. I’ve hosted small parties and dinners where he will show up empty-handed and proceed to eat and drink more than anyone else.

I know that he does this to other people, too. My close friend invited him to her home for a small gathering, and he acted the same way. I would think that at his age, he would have the common sense to see that this is rude, but he clearly doesn’t. How do I approach him about this? — Bad Houseguest

DEAR BAD HOUSEGUEST: Why are you tiptoeing around your brother? He surely is not tiptoeing around you or your friends. Invite him to come over to see you. Sit him down and tell him you need to talk. Directly tell him that you do not appreciate his recent behavior. Describe in detail what he has been doing and how rude it is. Give him clear examples of how he has taken from you and others so that he can see both what he has done and how his greediness has been received.

Remind him about the basics of guest etiquette, namely that it is common to bring a gift when you come to someone’s home for a meal or a party — a bottle of wine, a dessert even a small trinket. You do not go into people’s refrigerators — including your family’s — unless invited. You offer to help when help is clearly needed, and you don’t overstay your welcome.

Ask him what’s going on with him that has led him to be so self-serving. Is he in trouble financially? Is he literally hungry? Or is he just being a big kid who believes that others should be responsible for feeding him? Try to get him to talk about it, even as you establish boundaries for the future.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work as a high-end retail salesperson. I’m the top earner out of all the other salespeople and a client favorite. I love my job, but a lot is expected of me. I watch my co-workers get away with things that I would never be able to get away with. I rarely take days off, but when I do, my supervisors try to guilt me into staying by saying that the store cannot function properly without me. My co-workers take off way more time than I do. It’s like the better I am at my job, the less lenience I’m given. What should I do? — High Expectations

DEAR HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Step back and take stock of what’s going on. You need to recognize your own value in this situation. Your company is putting the lion’s share of responsibility on your shoulders. Give some of it back. Put your foot down. Explain that you will always give 100% when you are at work, but you need a break. Schedule your vacation — and take it. Let them miss you when you are gone. Perhaps others will have to step up. Stand firm in your resolve to take care of yourself so that you can continue to give fully at work when you are there.

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