Dear Amy:

I started a new job six months ago. I would have to say that 90 percent of the people at work are very nice, but there are about a half-dozen people who seem to give me the cold shoulder.

One in particular actually looks the other way when I say hello.

I came aboard with others and I see that a few of them are close to some of the colleagues that are distant to me.

I asked one fellow employee if the one that looks the other way was mad at me for something I said or did, and he said no.

I have kept quiet, not shared my opinions on debates among workers for fear of backlash, laughed at all of their jokes and remained polite at all times.

I contribute to all collections for fellow workers and have attended social events. Yet I still feel isolated.

I still work for my previous company part time, and I see a whole different type of personnel there. I feel more at home at my second job.

Looking to Fit In in N.Y.

If you feel comfortable with 90 percent of your colleagues, then I'd say you are doing very well. Your transition might have been a little easier if you had made a clean break from your other job.

You should ask the person who is dissing you if something is going on.

Don't be aggressive and say, "What's your damage?" Simply say, "I feel like it's been hard to get to know you; is anything wrong?"

This person's reaction to you might stem from something as simple as the fact that his or her best friend was fired from your position last year. This behavior is rude; if they don't soften after you speak with them, forget it and move on.

Dear Amy:

I have a husband and a 5-month-old baby.

My mother, who lives in another state, has recently "announced" that she and a close friend have purchased plane tickets and will be staying at our house for a week.

She did not ask if the date of the visit is okay with us.

She has a history of planning things without taking our feelings into consideration.

When I approached her on this subject, she stated that she does not have to ask "permission" to visit.

At this point, she will be here any day now, and I feel very resentful toward her.

Discussing this with her has not worked, and it seems as though I have a future of her planning visits for herself.

What can I do?

Daughter of Overbearing Mother

Is a heavy chain and a padlock for your front door out of the question?

Your mother doesn't respect you enough to even bother to wait to be invited, and I have a feeling that she probably doesn't respect your husband, either, so the two of you must put up a consistent and united front to intimidate her enough to change her strategy.

You should say to her, "Mom, these are the house rules. You will wait to be invited. You will not bring a friend unless we agree to that ahead of time. You are simply not welcome here without an invitation. The next time you announce that you are coming to visit and show up at our home uninvited, we will escort you to the motel down the road. You'll love it. I understand that they will 'leave the light on for you.' "

A book you might find helpful is "When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People: Surviving Your Family and Keeping Your Sanity," by Leonard Felder (2005, Rodale).

You need to develop consistent and firm strategies in order to deal with her.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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