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SENSE & SENSITIVITY, A COLUMN BY HARRIETTE COLE

Male co-worker’s hug unwelcome

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 6:30 am

Q.: Yesterday at work, my male co-worker hugged me so hard that my breasts were sore afterward. I felt violated. Could this be sexual harassment? Should I say something to my boss? – Violated, Syracuse, N.Y.

A.: Start with the co-worker, if you have the courage to do so. Tell him that you were caught off guard by the hug he gave you and that you did not appreciate it. Tell him that you feel like he crossed the line of appropriateness.

From there, do not hug him anymore. If he attempts to hug or touch you, back up and make it clear that you are uninterested. It could be that your co-worker didn't realize his strength. It's also possible that he has an interest in you or that his behavior could be headed toward harassment. If he does anything else untoward, take it to your boss.

Q.: I have a friend who constantly comments on how I spend my money. When she notices that I have bought a new dress or that I got my hair done, she asks me how much it cost. Then she makes nasty comments about how I spend too much money on things. I have a good job and can afford my lifestyle. She is a single mom with a low-paying job. What can I do to handle this better? – Uncomfortable, Racine, Mich.

A.: Stop answering your friend's questions about prices. She seems to be living vicariously through you. To get her to snap out of her vicarious reverie, you may need to tell her that her running commentary on your possessions hurts your feelings.

Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.