Dear Abby: Friendship with outspoken co-worker threatens my progress at work

Ambitious staffer is torn between loyalty to a friend who’s quick to complain, and respect for the managers this woman hates.

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DEAR ABBY: I moved to town not long before the pandemic and don’t have many close friends here. One of my best friends is a co-worker, “Ronna,” whom I love dearly.

Ronna has had an extremely rough past, including an extensive history of parental abuse that has left her thin-skinned and suspicious of authority figures. Because of this, she’s constantly butting heads with our management team and confronting them about perceived slights.

While some of the points she makes are reasonable, many are taken too personally or blown way out of proportion, and she tends to act very dramatic/livid about it. I’m looking to move up in the company, and I’m torn between loyalty to my friend and the need to remain on good terms with our higher-ups. I’m also worried that my friendliness with management will lead to Ronna resenting or distrusting me. How can I safely navigate? — IN THE MIDDLE IN COLORADO

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Do not involve yourself in Ronna’s problems on the job. If you do, they will spill over onto you. Maintain your personal relationship with her away from the office, while networking and trying to widen your circle of friends.

From what you have written, I doubt that Ronna will be working for your employer much longer. Workers who react in a “very dramatic/livid” manner are usually laid off because their behavior is unprofessional and disruptive.

DEAR ABBY: I am having problems with my baby dad helping me with our 2-year-old daughter. I don’t like the idea of putting him on child support. I have tried counseling with him. In addition to asking him to step up, I have tried giving him lists of what our daughter needs, and he still isn’t helping. Instead he’s asking me to help with his bills.

I don’t know what to do. I really don’t want to go after child support since he now has two jobs. I need his help, but I don’t know how to get him to contribute. Any ideas? — STRUGGLING MOM IN OHIO

DEAR MOM: You have tried asking, you have tried counseling. The only option left to convince him to step up to the plate and fulfill his obligations as a father is to contact Child Support Services and ask for help.

P.S. You absolutely should NOT pay his bills!

DEAR ABBY: I have been asked by a close friend to officiate at his wedding. I’m honored to have been asked, and it would be easy for me to get the credentials, but I am not comfortable doing it for personal reasons. I know it’s his special day, and he really wants me to do it. How can I politely decline without hurting our friendship? I don’t know how to word my refusal. — NOT FOR ME

DEAR NOT: Be honest to the degree that you can be without causing hurt feelings. Explain that you are honored to have been asked to officiate (which is true), but would not be comfortable in that role (also true). Then deflect by offering to support your friend in some other way on his special day.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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