How do I tell a good friend with a messy, curious, active toddler that I really don’t want her child in my house? It isn’t child-proofed, and I have a lot of collectibles on display that I don’t want to have to put away every time she feels like dropping by.

Tell her the truth – that you are anxious about your house not being child-proof, so you propose having your get-togethers at her house, and every other time you’ll bring the coffee and whatever, or lunch – whatever works with the time you get together — so that it’s not all on her, because you love your time together.

I am in the job market after over 10 years with my former company. How do I ask for help from acquaintances who might be able to recommend me or refer me to a job opening in their workplace, or elsewhere? They don’t necessarily know what my qualifications are, and since they aren’t close friends, I don’t want to impose on them and feel insecure even asking.

It’s never easy, but if you have known them for a while, and have enjoyed exchanges you have had with them, it never hurts to ask. Not everyone will jump in and try to help, but there is likely one person with whom you have spent time, who you know understands the basics of your career path, who actually would think about your request and perhaps try to make a match. Start with that person and see how it goes. Call him or her, ascertain that it is a convenient time to talk, and explain why you are calling. “Joe, this is Sam Smith. I’m calling for a favor, because I have enjoyed our past conversations and know we share some job experiences. I’m in the market for my next career move and am hoping I can shoot you my resume so if you hear of any job possibilities you could keep me in mind or recommend me. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and answer any questions you might have. If you’re willing, how’s this Saturday morning for a quick meeting at The Corner Café?’ If his response is not enthusiastic, you can’t insist, but you might ask if you could send him your resume anyway, in case something comes up. Networking beats answering classified ads on job search sites every time.

My book group is wonderful. We’ve been together for almost ten years. But a lot of the members have become grandmothers and naturally want to talk about it – and they do this for almost an hour and we barely discuss the book. Can I say something?

Yes. When everyone is gathered, say “I so want to hear everyone’s news, but I have to leave a little early and wonder if we could discuss the book first, so we get that covered, and then catch up after we talk about the book?” This is reasonable, and not offensive.

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