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Baggage Check: Ultimate out-of-office reply; family dysfunctions

By Andrea Bonior By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I recently got a new job that’s a huge improvement over my current one – better pay, better commute and more interesting and challenging work. The new place could sort of be considered a competitor to my current place, but not directly. I just gave my notice last week, and ever since then, all of my co-workers have been cool to me, like they are mad at me for leaving, including the ones I considered close friends.

Your co-workers may have hard feelings, and you might not be able to do anything about it. It seems you’ve lined up a super-ideal job change (Will the new office also have daily harp serenades?) and they might be jealous. Or, they might not like goodbyes, or they might just feel hurt that you’ve chosen to leave.

Examine your behavior and make sure you’re not flaunting your good fortune. Bring communal treats to the office with a note thanking everyone for the friendship and saying you’ll be sad to leave but will stay in touch. If you’re being gracious and they’re still being aloof, you might need to accept that these friendships were in cube only.

Q: How do I keep the peace with a sister-in-law who is bigoted, ignorant and rude to my children? I am almost at the point of not allowing my children to be in her presence, but she is at virtually every family gathering or holiday that we spend with my husband’s parents (who are fine). I swear, she is one of the worst people I’ve ever met, and I marvel at the fact that she’s related to the man I chose to spend my life with.

Hopefully, that very man is standing up to her. He’s got the most significant role in this, as it’s ultimately his duty not to let the family member he was born with do damage to the family he chose.

Together, you can agree to limit your exposure, to initiate more visits with just his parents or to have a private conversation with her. You also can have discussions with your children about how you don’t agree with everything that their aunt says, and how if she ever makes them feel bad, they should talk to you about it. Set an example by not tolerating the worst of her behavior. Your kids need and deserve to see their parents standing up and stopping this.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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