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You Asked: My Sister-in-Law Is Competitive With Me

Dear Sugar,

I have a sister-in-law who I've been having a hard time dealing with lately. We used to be a lot closer, but over the past two years we have grown apart. My husband's family decided to buy two hair salons, one of which my sister-in-law was employed at. And it just so happens that I'm in the business as well, so we've been working together, too. Ever since then she has tried to compete with me. We are both managers and though we do have some differing views on managing the salons, our priorities for the most part are the same.

Recently I left a note for one of the employees to make sure she properly handled her clean-up and I got a nasty response back. Instead of defending me or helping me deal with it, my sister-in-law just laughed about it. It's obvious she doesn't value me as her partner, and I don't know how to deal with it. What can I do to make this situation better?

— Sister-in-Law Stress Sadie

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Sister-in-Law Stress Sadie,

Dealing with competition in the workplace is very common, and accompanied by the fact that you're working with your sister-in-law in a family business, it's not too surprising that you've encountered some issues. Like any sort of conflict, if you don't deal with it, it'll only get worse. It's clear that you need to talk to you sister-in-law about the situation. Try to keep it moderately professional; however, I do think it's OK to bring up that fact that you're sad you've grown apart.

As with any conversation, avoid attacking her and instead, describe how you're feeling. Ask for her opinion as well; I wouldn't be surprised if she has an entirely different point of view. If you can't work through your personal issues, then you both need to come up with a solution to make your professional environment more manageable. If your attempt at a resolution falls flat and things only get worse, you may want to look into other managerial jobs, outside of the family, since I would guess that she's not going anywhere.


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