Annie Lane: Greedy boss tests our boundaries

Published 5:57 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

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Dear Annie: My boss is simply a taker, and I’m tired of it. I am a pretty generous person, but I feel like she takes advantage. She has no problem asking to use or have others’ personal items.

When she first came to my office, she asked if she could use my coffee creamer. I thought nothing of it and, of course, said yes. She has since made my coffee creamer our coffee creamer. Even though she occasionally hands me $5, she uses much more than that, and I never signed up to have communal creamer or be the person sent to the store to get it on my time every week.

She has asked to use my and others’ phone chargers. She takes from people’s candy dishes, which we all do, but we refill them, and we have our own to offer one another. Beyond just eating other’s Life Savers, she uses her finger to fish around to find the flavor she likes. She uses tea bags and honey. If she sees someone eating cheese crackers, she has no problem asking for some.

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She is the boss and makes more than all of us. These items are not free, and they aren’t just dropped on our desks. We have to go buy them. How do we put an end to the greed but not make things awkward? Thank you in advance for your advice.

— Frustrated With


Dear Frustrated: Take a page out of your boss’ book and be direct. Start with the kitchen: Ask her if the company can cover the expense for and order things that most everyone uses, like ground coffee, creamer, utensils and other treats that she and your coworkers enjoy.

Confrontation and saying no can feel difficult and uncomfortable, but you don’t have to do it rudely. Lean into speaking up; you’ll never establish healthy professional boundaries if you don’t.

• • •

Dear Annie: I have been married for almost 18 years. I will be the first to tell you that I am not an easy person to live with. I had a child before my husband and I got married, which he knew and said wouldn’t be a problem. This is his second marriage. I have some health issues that I manage with medicine.

We have a child together, yet he pretty much ignores my older child. He does what his family wants. If we have plans and a family member calls, our kids and I are thrown aside. He puts my older child down to our child and says taking the eldest places is inconvenient for him, throwing it off on me.

The kids and I are to the point where we don’t say much to him because he gets mad, pouts and/or says that he’s not going to say anything else because he always gets in trouble. I have caught him in lies, yet there are times that he talks to me like I am totally stupid, and he bullies and intimidates our kids as a form of “punishment.”

I told him that I was done and don’t care anymore. He also threatens/intimidates the youngest that they BETTER NOT tell their mama (me) what he said. This is beginning to affect my health more and more.

How do you talk to someone who DOESN’T seem to think you are being serious? I don’t want to leave and take my kids from their home!

— Feeling Stuck

Dear Stuck: The best way to show someone like your husband that you mean business is to follow through on taking action. Every day that the three of you continue to be exposed to his manipulation and emotional abuse does more and more damage. Your health is suffering, and so is your kids’ mental health.

Your husband is greatly flawed as a partner to you and as a father. Pursue family therapy and counseling to help the kids work through their individual trauma. If needed, supplement it with couples counseling, too. Starting here will help you determine if it’s possible to transform and rebuild your family and your marriage.

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