Dear Annie

Dear Annie: I am a member of a small Midwestern church and in the choir. There are about 10 of us. The problem is the organist and choir director, who have held these positions for nearly 50 years. As she is getting older, she is neglecting to either shower or change her clothes, which I can often smell in our small practice room.

She also is losing her hearing and doesn’t hear us when we ask questions about the music during practice. Thus, she drowns us out when playing on Sunday or when made angry. I believe that our pastor is afraid to say anything to her, and I don’t believe that any other choir members will say anything, either. She can take offense easily. Any suggestions?

— Afraid to Offend

Dear Afraid to Offend: Sometimes, having a direct and honest conversation is the best way not to offend someone in the long run. It may hurt her feelings for a minute, but having other choir members and the pastor talk about her behind her back is much more hurtful. If you decide to be the brave lion out of the group, make sure you come from a loving and caring place and not a judgmental one. Speak with her in private about your concerns. Sometimes depression, loneliness or other forms of mental illness can lead to not bathing and bad hygiene. If that is the case, it is important for her to get help and know she is supported

and loved.

Dear Annie: I like my job except for one thing: The office has a toxic gossiping culture. I regularly hear my immediate boss saying unsavory things about many of my co-workers to other members of middle management. I don’t like this culture, and I want no part in it — but I want to keep this job. Help!

 — Involuntary Confidante

Dear Confidante: You are very wise to ignore the gossiping. There is an old Turkish proverb that states, “Who gossips to you will gossip of you.” You could try to turn the gossip back on the gossipers with a positive thing to say about the person they are speaking about. Also, you should report this to upper management.

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