Dear Harriette... I have a friend who is extremely pushy with her requests. She is a woman of privilege, and she is accustomed to getting her way immediately. She asked me to make an introduction, and I don’t think it’s a great idea. She pushed so hard that I reluctantly agreed.
I have been trying to figure out how to approach the situation to create the chance for a good outcome. She called me the next day to find out if I had reached out to the woman yet. I’m afraid that if she is pushy like this with my other friend, it will not end up going well for either of us. How can I preserve both relationships when this one friend just won’t let up? — In the Middle
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: If you truly don’t think you should make this connection, don’t do it. Stand up to your friend, and tell her why you don’t think it’s the right fit. In the best-case scenario, you can recommend someone else who might be better suited to your friend. Think long and hard for another person who would be able to welcome your friend’s pushy manner better. If nobody comes to mind, you can just say no to her. Or if you think the project she is representing is a good one but her demeanor is the problem, you could reach out to the person she requested and tell her that you know someone who has a great idea; you aren’t sure if it’s a fit, but you think it could be worth it for her to consider. Establishing a caveat could protect you. But beware, even lukewarm recommendations can seem much stronger to the person receiving them — especially if you are highly regarded. So you must protect your reputation as you navigate this tricky situation.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going to a three-day conference where I am a principal conference speaker. I am excited about this opportunity and want to do my best.
I was recently called and invited to speak at another event during the conference, but it conflicts with yet another meeting that I am scheduled to participate in. This is tough because I am interested in joining the leadership of the organization. I don’t think it’s wise to rescind my involvement in one meeting because another seems more high profile. How should I handle this? — Climbing
DEAR CLIMBING: Thank the people who most recently invited you to be a part of their meeting. Let them know that while you will be at the conference, you have already confirmed your participation in an event at the same time as theirs. Ask if there might be another time during the conference when you can meet their principal constituency.
Meetings can occur over drinks, at meals or during cocktail receptions. You don’t have to close the door to getting to know those other people. Suggest other ideas and make it clear that you would like to be with them, but your previous commitment prohibits meeting at that specific time.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.