Life Advice



Boss Uses Employee As Scapegoat

Harriette Cole on

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss dropped the ball and is blaming it on me. She was supposed to send out an internal email with an important deadline, but she never told anyone about it. She was sitting on the information for a while and didn't let anyone know. Today, my colleagues and I got an urgent message from her stating that we have to work to meet the deadline within 48 hours. When my colleague asked why we were given such short notice, she said that I was the one who was supposed to remind her to send the notice. I'm furious. What should I do? -- Scapegoat

DEAR SCAPEGOAT: Take a few deep breaths and calm down. You have to think strategically here. Your goal is to get your boss to be more collaborative and to communicate more fully with you so that you can successfully support her. In this case, that didn't happen.

Ask to talk to your boss after this deadline is met. Tell her that you were surprised that she said you were remiss in not reminding her of this email; you were unaware of it. Suggest that you have a daily or weekly check-in with her where the two of you address priorities and deadlines. Point out that you want to be able to have her back. In order to do so, you need to be aware of what is needed and when.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a predominantly white neighborhood with a white housemate. My housemate is much older than I am, but she is very kind, and we've built a strong friendship. She is the homeowner, so I pay her monthly to stay in her home. The other day, her neighbor spewed a racial slur at me. I told my housemate immediately, expecting her to take action. She hasn't done anything about it. She agreed that I should not be the one to deal with her neighbor because it could make matters worse, but if I can't do it, then she needs to do it. She knows the man who did it. I can't understand why she won't stick up for me. I feel betrayed and angry. Is this cause to find somewhere else to live? -- Do Something

DEAR DO SOMETHING: I disagree with your neighbor. You should speak up for yourself. Relying on someone else to defend you often leads to disappointment. It is not too late to say something about how inappropriate the comment was. Or you can wait until he says something else and address that comment in the moment. Yes, your housemate should have said something, acknowledging that you live in her house and deserve the respect of the neighborhood for being part of the community.


Should you move? If you feel unsafe, you definitely should move. If you doubt he will take violent action against you, it is not necessary to move. Sadly, people say racist things all the time. Should they feel comfortable doing so? No, but you should not be forced to move out of your home, either. You can ignore him. You can report him to the police if he crosses the line into violent hate speech. You can record him on your phone the next time he starts a rant, then share it on a community social media page. You don't have to just sit there and take it. You can speak up for yourself. Your neighbor should speak up as well.


(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Copyright 2022, Harriette Cole



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