Quiet Diet: Special Diets and Dinner Parties

Q: When a person is on a diet and is invited to a home-cooked dinner party, should the guest (who is on the diet) put aside their diet just for the evening and go ahead and enjoy the meal? Or should they stay on their diet, even though the hostess worked very hard to provide the beautiful and delicious meal?

A: Presumably, those on a weight-loss diet that is self imposed can set it aside for one meal and compensate before and afterward. If someone is on a health-related diet she needs to stick to, she should tell her hostess when the invitation is received – “Thank you so much, I’d love to come but I’m on a pretty restricted diet right now. I could bring my own food, if that would be okay with you, or I can look forward to another invitation some other time and not come this time so as not to interfere with your plans.”

Thanks But No Thanks: How to Politely Deny Pushy Free Trials

Q: There is a new store in the entrance hallway of the mall at which I am employed. Every single time I or anybody else walks by, there is an employee out front offering a free massage sample.

On my way into work, I tell them I have to go to work, but they ask again as I leave. It’s annoying and I don’t think I should have to dread walking through the door for fear of being harassed. What can I tell them, or should I complain to mall management? It’s literally every single time.

A: Introduce yourself and explain to those employees that you work in the mall and really do not need a free massage sample.  So since you will see them twice a day, you would prefer if they would not offer you samples.  If they persist, discuss this problem with the health store manager.  If the situation doesn’t improve, report it to the mall management.

Irrational Implications: Dealing with Friends and Family That Make too Many Assumptions

Q: My husband and I work for the government in very stressful jobs. My in-laws are stuck in the cliche that working for the government is easy and imply frequently when we meet. I find it very offensive. Is there an appropriate way to broach this topic with them?’

A: Sure. Tell them that it hurts your feelings that they don’t take the time to understand that your jobs are challenging and stressful. Say, “May I tell you about just one week on the job so perhaps you understand?” If they brush off this effort, then continue to tell them, every time they comment, that they have upset you with their assumptions. And then change the subject. There is no need to be defensive or rude in return, just be matter-of-fact and move to a different topic.


Hedge Help: How can you ask Neighbors to Contribute to Yard Work?

Q: Recently, our next-door neighbors, were evicted from their home. The house now sits vacant, with weeds, tall grass, and newspapers in the driveway. My husband has gone over a few times and mowed the grass (front and back) and I have been picking up the papers. Is there a nice way to ask the neighbors on the other side of the vacant house to help us keep the property up until someone else moves in?

A: Sure. Invite them over for a cup of coffee and ask them if they are as distressed about the condition of the house as you are,  and if so, if they would be willing to lend a hand keeping it presentable until it is occupied again. The worst they can say is no, but it’s worth a try, and it’s also a nice chance to get to know them a little better.

Tired Third Wheel: How can you Handle Being Left out of a Friendship?

Q: I introduced two good friends of mine who didn’t previously know each other one night. One friend is a person I confide in and the other is a person I don’t trust but who always has idle time like myself so we often hang out. They exchanged phone numbers and have become friends. They are leaving me out of their friendship and my friendship with both has suffered. I’m hurt and feel selfish but I wish I could have the strength and security of both friendships again.’

A: It is always so hard when this happens and there is little you can do about it except make a point of keeping in touch and planning a get-together with one or the other, periodically, probably not both since your instinct that they are leaving you out wouldn’t make a threesome comfortable. It is not selfish at all to be hurt when something like this happens, but it is good to be as proactive as you feel comfortable being to maintain the friendships you once enjoyed. Be sure not to talk about the other when with one of them, especially since you don’t particularly trust the second friend and wouldn’t be sure what he would say or not say to your other friend.