Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Real Talk With Rachel: An Old Face on a New Newsletter; A Wreck in the Making?

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

My girlfriend of a year has been asking to use my car more and more. I
don’t normally have a problem letting people borrow my car, but she is a terrible driver. I don’t know how to tell her that I feel uncomfortable with her behind the wheel.

A Total Wreck

Dear Wreck,

If your girlfriend is as bad a driver as you say, you have every right to prevent her from using your car. In fact, many of us would prefer if you worked on preventing her from driving altogether. The question is how you can do it in a way that doesn’t ruin your relationship.

This probably won’t be the first time that she’s heard about her subpar driving skills. Nothing is more obvious than a passenger tensing up in the front seat, mouthing “stop!” and gripping their seatbelt for dear life as a driver barrels through traffic. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’ll be an easy conversation.

It will be tempting to lie or pin the decision on other people or forces, like your insurance company. Try to resist. Ultimately, this is a test of your ability to remain honest with your girlfriend, even if the subject is a doozy.

Just tell her how you feel and try not to make it sound like a personal attack. Use specific examples of times her driving habits made you uncomfortable. And, if she’s using your car a lot, she might want to consider joining ZipCar or Car2Go, so she isn’t as dependent on your means of transportation. No matter how you word it, be aware it could balloon into a fight. I know it would offend the hell out of me.

If you’re going to prevent your significant other from using your car, it seems a bit cruel to let others snag the keys whenever they’d like. Perhaps this means that, barring extenuating circumstances, you’ll stop providing your car to everyone lucky enough to call you their friend. Because that would just be rubbing it in her face.

And before you have a conversation about this, make sure that she is actually a bad driver, or at least significantly worse than all of the other people to whom you lend your car. Often, we are most critical of the people we love the most. Don’t hold her up to higher driving standards than other people.


Dear Rachel,

I recently got a new job. The person who previously held my position still works there, and I think he has a difficult time letting go of some of his previous responsibilities. Part of my job is creating a weekly newsletter. He keeps trying to impose the way he did things, and I’d like to tweak it.

How can I keep the peace while trying to make my position my own?

Out With the Old

Dear Out With the Old,

Sometimes we feel just as protective over the things we create as we would our own children. I’m not sure if the guy who had the job before gestated that newsletter, but he definitely still feels a sense of ownership. Unless his new job is supervising you (in which case, you’re the one who needs to chill out), he’s gonna need to let go.

Think about this as an opportunity to carefully consider any changes to business-as-usual before you make them. First make sure you’re free to take the initiative on this one. Then, ask some of your co-workers, including the man who previously compiled the newsletter, what they find most and least effective about its presentation and content. That way, when you actually do make the changes, you’ll be able to explain them to anyone who inquires about them.

Hopefully, the guy will soon be busy with his own new responsibilities and he’ll leave you alone. Feel free to ask him for tips, but also know you don’t always have to use them.

If he doesn’t keep his nose out of your business, practice saying “Thanks for your input. I’ve discussed it with [Insert Boss’ Name Here] and we’re thinking about going in a different direction.”



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a reporter at a financial trade publication. Real Talk  with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel at advice @

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