Annie Lane: Uncomfortable making a recommendation

Published 6:30 am Saturday, September 19, 2020

Dear Annie: I would like your input on how to handle a tricky situation. Many times, I am asked to write a letter of recommendation or make a recommendation for someone seeking a new job or promotion. What do I do if the person is qualified for the job/promotion but I do not feel comfortable writing the letter of recommendation as I have nothing of value or significance that I would like to share on behalf of this person?

Recently, I was asked by my supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for another person that I work with. We started at the company at the same time and I went up for promotion first. I did all the groundwork in getting my papers and reviewers in order. My co-worker did the same, however, one of the reviewers dropped out at the last minute (felt uncomfortable in evaluating), and this person had no backup plan for another reviewer. Although this person is fairly competent, I did not feel I could wholeheartedly write a letter of recommendation on their behalf. I felt cornered in doing so, as my supervisor asked me to do it. What is your recommendation in this situation?

— Stuck in the Corner

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Dear Stuck: When you write someone a letter of recommendation, you are putting your own reputation on the line, at least a little bit. If you don’t feel good about writing one for this co-worker, then don’t. Politely let your supervisor know. They should leave it at that. It would be out of line for them to pressure you into vouching for someone whom you’d rather not. We’re only as good as our word; don’t devalue yours.

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Dear Annie: The morning of my husband’s birthday, I emailed almost all of his relatives and friends and requested that they contact him with birthday wishes. Because we’re sitting out the pandemic in Hawaii, cards hadn’t arrived yet from those who sent them from the mainland. It worked out really well: He had so much fun fielding calls and texts and emails all day!

— Hanakeaka

Dear Hanakeaka: That is wonderful. Over the past six months, I think that we’ve all come to better appreciate connecting with our friends and family.

I’ve enjoyed seeing people find new and creative ways to celebrate their loved ones on birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions this year. Readers, please share any stories you have on this topic.

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Dear Annie: I am hoping you can get a message out. From time to time, I’ll be sitting at a bar where I have engaged in some social conversation with strangers or I’ll be DJing music, and a beer will show up and the server will tell me who it’s from. While I know this is a gesture that comes with the best of intentions, I always limit how much I will drink when I have to drive. I prefer people not buy me alcohol without asking me if I would like another one. Please ask people to consider this before ordering alcohol for someone.

— Thanks, But No Thanks in North Dakota

Dear Thanks: I’m happy to get the word out. Asking someone what they’d like to drink is the better approach.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to