for Completely You
: I returned from maternity leave to learn that a co-worker who has been trying to get pregnant still hasn't. How do I handle my joy and her sadness?
: This is a tricky one. Although it would certainly be easier to ignore the situation, it's best to be a compassionate co-worker. You don't have to acknowledge your friend's difficulties directly, but you can ask open-ended questions about how she's doing -- this leaves the ball in her court to talk, or not, about her struggles. If she is still trying to get pregnant, you can share words of encouragement. If she has given up trying, make sure she knows that you're there for her whenever she wants to talk. On the other hand, she might welcome a change of topic. Discuss a variety of other things, from business to the latest Hollywood gossip, which can help to refocus your connection beyond topics of family life.
Mostly, be sensitive. You may really want to shout news of your new baby from the rooftops, but right now displaying a bunch of pictures may add to your co-worker's discomfort.
Mary Quigley is co-author ofGoing Back to Work: A Survival Guide for Comeback Moms, a professor of journalism at New York University, and mother of three.
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