Life Advice



Seeking to Set Boundaries in the Workplace

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have an employee who is constantly overbearing and frequently steps out of line in regards to privacy and personal space. She mistakenly sent me a text where she was revealing to a family member who works at a medical office where I was obtaining medical services, and describing my car and what state my tags were from. This shook me, considering it's my private medical treatment at stake, and I have no idea what else has been discussed without my knowledge.

How can I professionally say you've gone too far and my medical treatments are off limits for discussion? This should be a given and just plain common sense, but there seem to be no bounds regarding her nosy antics. -- Feeling Violated

Dear Violated: How violating and bizarre this woman's behavior is, indeed. Your feelings are totally valid.

If you are comfortable, confront her one-on-one. Let her know, as you have in your letter, that her disclosure of such personal information is both invasive and highly inappropriate. If necessary, look to your company's HR department for support in this matter. I'm confident they'll agree this crosses many boundaries and will be happy to help resolve the situation.

Dear Annie: I'm writing about your response to "Cat Lady," the woman whose mother- and sister-in-law bring their large dogs over to make a mess in her home while babysitting. While you offered great advice, it may not have the desired result, so, as a neat freak who owns four dogs, I'm writing to share some additional ideas.

Buy washable, waterproof covers for the furniture. Deploy child or pet gates at the doorways of rooms you don't want the dogs to enter, or install locking doorknobs on the doors to those rooms, with the keyhole side on the outside of the door. Make the key accessible in case of fire, of course, but "Cat Lady" should have her husband explain to his family that those rooms are off limits to the dogs, and the doors are to be kept closed and locked. Maybe even put signs on the doors with a picture of a dog with a red circle and an X going through it. I bought flat, furry, plush dog beds the right size for covering with waterproof baby crib mattresses to simplify cleanup.


The mother-in-law may be miffed, but after working hard all day, no one should come home to a huge cleanup project that is avoidable. -- Not Bogged Down by Dogs

Dear Not Bogged Down: Thank you for these practical, at-home solutions. A number of other readers also suggested having Grandma watch the kiddos at her house instead, eliminating the dog issue completely. If this is a feasible option for all parties, I highly recommend a trial run. It could be just the cure for everyone's headache.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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