Dear Annie: I enjoy my job, but my boss is a bit hit-or-miss. Sometimes he's very friendly with me, whereas other times, he's blunt and unforgiving. I've had lifelong issues with anxiety. It's diagnosed and medicated, but my boss's unpredictability sends my anxiety through the roof. He's not very approachable, so I don't feel comfortable talking to him directly any more than I already have. (I once let him know that his bluntness was stressing me out, but he just brushed me off.) I've also let his boss know that he causes me a lot of anxiety. After I told his boss that, things got better for a while. But lately, my boss is as passive-aggressive as ever. I truly don't know how to navigate his moods. I hate having to play this guessing game. I love everything about my job except working for him. He's the head of my department. I don't foresee him leaving that position any time soon. What do I do? — Managing a Moody Manager
Dear Managing a Moody Manager: It's a well-kept secret, but bosses are, in fact, human. Your manager could be stressed over things in his home life, spread thinner at work than you realize or even battling his own mental health issues. Whatever the cause of his moodiness, it's not you. So do your best not to take it personally. Develop a healthy sense of detachment — an umbrella to keep you dry no matter your boss's emotional weather. I also recommend seeing a therapist regularly, if you're not already, and talking through this with him or her. He or she could help you erect healthy boundaries and manage your anxiety.
Lastly, if your boss's moodiness escalates and he lashes out at you or behaves in any way that would constitute harassment, document the incidents and go to human resources.
Dear Annie: I'd like to respond to the letter from "Not Inviting Singles Ever Again." I am one of the singles invited to join families for Christmas Day dinners. I'm not single by choice, but I've adjusted. My wife died several years ago, and my children live far away. I have often been invited by people with "a big heart" to join them. The people have been very cordial and kind, but I still have felt strongly like a fifth wheel. I would much rather be alone and open a can of soup than sit there with a fake smile on my face, pretending I am enjoying myself. If I politely decline an invitation, I get the third degree, and it might be more unkind to truthfully say I'd rather be alone than with the hosts. So I think I am speaking for many singles who were happy when "Not Inviting Singles Ever Again" said she is not going to invite singles again because of a lack of RSVPs. There are two sides to everything. Please, just leave me alone. — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: I am sorry for the loss of your wife. I appreciate your speaking from the heart. You're absolutely right that there are two sides to every story, and your honesty about your feelings here may help give "Not Inviting Singles Ever Again" and anyone else in her shoes a more complete perspective.
Dear Annie: I have always wondered whether I should put my husband's name first when signing a letter, out of courtesy, or my own because I wrote the letter. — Mary Smith
Dear Mary: It is absolutely appropriate to sign your name first on a letter that you wrote. There is nothing discourteous about it.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]