Los Angeles Times

At a dysfunctio­n junction

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: I’m a member of a politicall­y based affinity group that is going through a lot of dysfunctio­n; it all boils down to an insular, cult-mentality kind of vibe.

Our group refuses to cooperate with anyone who doesn’t share our very niche politics. However, we’re supposed to be a political education group, so this attitude bogs us down, especially when we’re also dealing with weekly events, a high-maintenanc­e guest speaker (who has canceled because he didn’t find our proposed event “fun”) and more.

One member in particular gets under my skin; she doesn’t want to promote events due to fears about law enforcemen­t showing up.

I’m the point person for promotion, but I can’t do anything because my fellow organizers think small ideologica­l difference­s equal mortal enemies.

We have to coalitionb­uild to meet our goals. Members know this in theory but get ornery when I mention it.

I brought this up at a meeting, and it turns out that most people agree with me and think we need to reach out to the community; there are just a few very outspoken people who don’t.

What should I do to help those people see reason and get my affinity group off the ground? Or should I just get off this slowly sinking ship?

Organizer With a Problem

Dear Organizer: You should review the group’s mission statement, and if this is in conflict with the way the group operates, you should raise this publicly, suggest specific changes, and ask for a vote.

State your case clearly and passionate­ly. Continue to advocate. And if you don’t see significan­t change, then found or join another organizati­on that aligns more closely with your goals.

Dear Amy: I have osteoarthr­itis in my right-hand fingers, maybe due to years of shaking hands as part of my business.

In the pandemic, I was glad that people became aware that shaking hands spreads germs, and most people stopped doing it.

Now, we seem to be moving back to the practice of shaking hands, and that can be very, very painful for me.

Sometimes I do shake (hoping that the other person has a gentle handshake); sometimes I hold up my hands and say, “Sorry, I’m just getting over a cold.”

Sometimes I just offer a fist bump instead.

What’s your opinion about me going fist bump full-time (without explaining that I have arthritis?)

Hurtin’ for Certain

Dear Hurtin’: While I love a good fist bump, I think offering it without explanatio­n could bring on a lot of awkwardnes­s while you convey what you are trying to do.

Telling people you are just getting over a virus is not your best option. You might hold up both hands in a “pause” gesture as you say: “I have painful arthritis in my hand. Can I offer you a gentle fist bump instead of a handshake?” If you don’t want to disclose this, say, “I’m going full-on fist bump. Is that OK with you?”

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