Life Advice



Ask Amy: Nightmare bosses bust through boundaries

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Home Alone

Dear Alone: I could imagine a circumstance in which this might possibly be a fairly benign situation (very large house, very small workforce), but not in the context of “regional group meetings” with a larger professional services firm.

I shared your letter with John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a human resources consulting firm, whose reaction was unequivocal: "This might have been thought appropriate in another era, but it is not appropriate now. The boundaries are not right."

The tougher call is how you should react to this. He and I agree that you should approach the person who organized this junket and say: "I'm so excited about coming to work here. I know I can make great contributions to the team, but I would prefer for an out-of-town event at night to have my own hotel room. Is this possible?"

Challenger adds, "There is some risk to this that things might not work out at this company, but if this is so embedded in their culture, you might not want to work there anyway."

(December 2011)


Dear Amy: I work in a field that requires some travel, and while traveling with the company owner, "Beth" (20 years my junior), she requires that I share a hotel room with her. She has no sense of personal boundaries and will leave the bathroom door open while using the toilet and yelling comments to me (not even my husband does this).

She also parades around the room in her thong (who wants to see your boss's naked backside?) and tries to discuss her dating and/or sex life with me.

I am usually hiding under the covers, claiming to be too tired.

When I asked for my own room recently, she said that it wasn't in the budget and that she has to be careful with travel costs. She also wants to share room service breakfasts. She will order one entree for us to share, and a pot of coffee.


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