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DEAR ABBY: How do I deal with an assistant who keeps calling me a "brownnoser"? She did it again yesterday at a staff meeting in front of my boss and another assistant. It was the third time she has said it. She is gruff and rude, and several people have complained to me about her attitude.
Should I address her comments during her next employee evaluation, or would it be better to speak to her privately?
- The boss in Lakeland, Fla.
DEAR BOSS: Talk to her privately and tell her what she said is insulting, not funny and you don't want it to be repeated. Then, put a note about her disrespectful attitude and poor judgment in her personnel file. And by all means revisit the subject at her next evaluation. She should also be made aware that people have complained about her rudeness.
DEAR ABBY: I would like to ask your readers - especially women - what is the one thing they feel is "make or break" in a relationship. A few months ago I divorced a man who was so disrespectful I don't think anyone in the world can match him.
As it turns out, I did myself a huge favor. Everything else - trust, compromise and honesty - is important in a relationship, but if there is no respect, it falls apart. That is what happened to me.
Abby, am I correct about respect being the most important aspect of a partnership?
- Deserving in Salt Lake City
DEAR DESERVING: I think so, and I'm sure most readers will agree. When people respect each other, it follows that there will be honesty, trust and a willingness to compromise. Without these components, relationships usually don't last - or they shouldn't.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I spent a lot of money flying to our grandnephew's bar mitzvah. We stayed in a hotel and spent the weekend celebrating with the family.
During the last event, a Sunday brunch, my wife was approached by her penny-pinching sister - the grandmother - who asked her to co-sponsor the brunch. My wife, who is naive regarding financial matters, agreed without consulting me.
A few days later, we received an email with an amount that is far more than I want to pay. Had I known in advance, we would have skipped the brunch. How should we proceed?
- On the hook in Austin
DEAR ON THE HOOK: Your sister-in-law is a walking definition of the word "chutzpah." Your wife was wrong to obligate you without first making sure you agreed. That said, you have two choices: Refuse to share the cost of the brunch, which will embarrass your wife and cause hard feelings in the family, or grit your teeth, write a check and hope your wife has learned an expensive lesson.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.