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Don’t Skip Therapy Because of Work

Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to workfriend@nytimes.com. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters may be edited.

Personal Time Discretion

You don’t need to explain why you need one hour a week away from the office. Just tell your supervisor you need an hour of personal time each week and that you’ll return to the office after your personal time, as needed. And good for you for making time for therapy. I go twice a week. It is blocked off in my calendar so my staff knows I am unavailable. The appointments we must keep for ourselves are as important as any others.


Unfriendly Friend of a Friend

I am always curious when people go out of their way to identify race in their “Work Friend” letters. This letter and your dilemma would have been the same without the racial identifiers. What’s going on there? But on to your question. For whatever reason, R. does not care for you, but you cannot assume it’s because you’re a lesbian. The reality is that not everyone is going to get along. Sometimes people don’t like us. And yes, sometimes people are bigots. It’s frustrating when we aren’t sure about the source of someone’s enmity.

I have no doubt that this woman’s behavior is annoying, at best. I’m sorry you have to deal with such a hostile colleague. You should bring H.R. in if she is harassing you in the workplace, or if she is doing anything to impede your work or if she is allowing her possible homophobia to affect the community-facing work you’re doing.

But before you escalate anything, which I don’t necessarily recommend, try talking to her. You might say, “I’ve noticed some hostility from you and would like to talk it through so we can develop a more respectful working relationship.” Then the ball is in her court because you’ve named the behavior you’ve experienced and tried to deal with it proactively and productively. On a final note, she cannot make you feel unwelcome unless you allow her too. It is your workplace, too. Don’t let her behavior prevent you from feeling like you belong at your job. And don’t let her treat you badly without calling the behavior out.

My Colleague’s Problems Are My Problems Too

You can absolutely call in sick or take a vacation. Your employer will be fine, I assure you. Stop policing your colleague. Your colleague’s work arrangements are none of your business. It doesn’t matter how often she is out of the office, where she works, or why her life is so hectic. If you want a hybrid work arrangement, ask for one. If her work habits are affecting yours, that’s the only thing you need to concern yourself with.

What is the problem? How would you like to see the problem resolved? Once you have answered those questions for yourself, meet with your manager and articulate those answers and ask for help in developing a plan for a more equitable distribution of responsibilities. There is no need to martyr yourself here, and I say that with the utmost affection.

Middle Management Blues

Asks are asks, and demands are demands. I understand the mind-set of asking people to do things they are really required to do. But when you make something seem optional, most people will treat it as optional, especially if you are asking them to do something they don’t really want to do.

Your resentment is understandable. You were trying to be nice and create a collaborative environment. Alas, that backfired. You cannot expect people to be mind readers or to intuit your intentions. In the future, say what needs to be said. You can be a leader without being oppressive about it.

In this situation, you might have informed your colleagues that the staff is growing but the building unfortunately isn’t, so some people will have to share space. In addition, you could explain how that determination will be made so people are at least well-informed even if they don’t really have a say in the matter.

Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.

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