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Ask Amy: Seniors exercise against director's tirades

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • November 8, 2013 - 1:39 PM

Dear Amy: Our town has a free senior exercise group that meets five mornings a week. Recently, because of painting in the building, we had to meet in a different room in the basement — not a favorite spot.

Unfortunately, a few of the seniors commented unfavorably on this within earshot of the director.

She came down and yelled at the group, threatening to close the center.

Her lack of respect for her guests/seniors is causing resentment and anger, yet we would hate to go to her boss about this. We know she needs the job and does very well (other than her tirades).

After another tirade, a doctor connected with a foot clinic who held regular clinics at our center told her he would no longer come if this continued.

Do her actions constitute verbal elder abuse? Any suggestions for how to handle this?

Amy says: I don’t think it’s appropriate to use the term “elder abuse” when what you are dealing with is garden variety unprofessional (and inexcusable) behavior. And while I agree that on one level it is abusive, you dilute the meaning of elder abuse if you make this claim.

Behaving poorly — aside from tirades — is still unacceptable from someone whose job is to deal with (and serve) the public.

If the director of this center truly needs this job then she will have to figure out how to adjust her behavior. You (and your senior posse) should definitely go to a higher-up to report this issue.

Act like a grownup

Dear Amy: I am a college student experiencing what seems like a seventh-grader’s social problems. In my small and tight-knit major, a shift seems to have occurred over the summer. Friends with whom I was once close now seem distant.

I tried to hang out and stay in touch with people over the summer, but more often than not they were too busy.

I suspect this is the work of one particular girl, who is nice to me in person but seems manipulative and gossipy. (I know from another source that she never liked me much.)

Besides her, these other “friends” of mine will be my classmates and colleagues for years to come. I’m not one to invite myself places, but how can I deal directly with this situation?

Amy says: If you want to try to affect a different outcome, you will have to be brave enough to see this for what it is (seventh-grade-style social shenanigans) but approach it in an adult fashion.

Age has no relationship to adult-style maturity, but it helps to imagine how an “adult” would ideally handle a situation like this — and simply act, as if.

Act as if you are dealing with other mature people who can manage to be socially decent. Act as if your colleague can deal with an honest and transparent question.

You say to the Queen Bee (privately): “I perceive some tension with you. What’s going on?”

After this, you need to behave as if you are completely in charge of your life. Train yourself to enter in, initiate social contact, and do your best to be open, friendly and inclusive.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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