DEAR HARRIETTE: At the last minute, I agreed to have an acquaintance help out on a project I was working on because it sounded like she might be able to bring in some much-needed funding. It turns out that her participation was shocking. She was loud and obnoxious the whole time. She did not bring in one dollar. She did turn me on to a couple of good resources for the project, but honestly, it wasn't worth it.I feel like her involvement sullied my brand. She and I have completely different personalities, and she is not professional in her behavior. How can I sever ties with her? She has been pressuring me to host another public project that she could partner on with me. After how poorly this recent fiasco ended, I don't want to have any more to do with her. How do I walk away from her without suffering the negative consequences of her bad-mouthing me for doing so? — Awkward, Atlanta
DEAR AWKWARD: Be careful. Think long and hard about a strategy to acknowledge this person's efforts, even if they didn't pan out. Thank her for her hard work. Let her know that you appreciate her interest in helping you with this project. Tell her that you will not be pursuing the other project that she recommended. Suggest that she look for another partner for future projects.
DEAR HARRIETTE: At dinner with my children recently, I noticed them treating the waitstaff poorly. They would roll their eyes, not say thank you and barely acknowledge the servers. I was mortified and asked where they learned this. They all shrugged. A conversation is necessary, but I am not sure whether to start with my ex-husband — who is notorious for being a menace to any staff — or with my children. Should I start at the root of the problem, or just focus on my children's behavior? — We Say Thank You, Shreveport, LouisianaDEAR WE SAY THANK YOU: Do not bring your ex-husband into a conversation with your children where you are reprimanding them about their behavior. No good will come of that. Instead, be direct with your children, and let them know that you have observed unacceptable behavior from them and you want to talk about it. Give specific examples from your most recent restaurant experience with them where you can point out clearly how they were rude, dismissive and disrespectful. Be clear enough that they cannot wriggle out of it by saying they didn't do it. Speak about what you witnessed firsthand and how awkward it was for you to see.
Tell them that this is not the way you reared them, and they must stop. Ask them to put themselves in the waiters' shoes for a moment. Imagine how bad they would feel if someone treated them in that same way. Suggest that before they react to others, they think for a moment about how the behavior they want to engage in at that time could be hurtful or helpful. Help them to see the folly of their ways.
Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.