April 13, 2024
A mutual acquaintance dropped this revelation on me.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, I bumped into a college friend with whom I shared a close bond in the past. While catching up, I mentioned my relatively newfound friendship with a woman we both knew from college — and that’s when things turned awkward.

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My college friend was taken aback and expressed surprise about my new friendship with this woman. According to her, my new friend used to badmouth me.

This revelation left me feeling hurt and confused. I am not sure what to do about this situation and how to proceed with my friendship with my new friend. We were in college more than 10 years ago, but I had no idea she used to talk about me the way that she did.

How do I handle this?

— Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED: Keep it simple. Tell your new friend directly what you just heard. Ask her if it’s true that she used to talk badly about you. If so, why? Ask why she wants to be friends with you now.

Explain that you were just told that she engaged in badmouthing you when you two were in college. While you didn’t know it at the time, you found the news disturbing, and you want to get to the bottom of it.

It is possible for people to change and to learn from the mistakes of their youth. Find out what this woman’s story is. Get her to tell you exactly what her beef was with you way back then, including specifics about what she used to say. Then decide if you can forgive her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In response to “Conflict of Interest,” the woman whose sister won’t help her get a job at a company she wants to join: I’m getting the distinct impression that the woman wants to work for this company because it will be good for her; you have to sell yourself on how the company will benefit from hiring you.

And the “it’s who you know”? I know hundreds of people; it doesn’t mean I’d hire them. It’s who likes you and would recommend you.

Frequently when a person tries to get hired on the recommendation of a relative we already employ — not always, but frequently — they have a disqualifying issue (often interpersonal skills, but in one case an arrest record).

I’ve never heard a job candidate describe themselves as anything but the perfect candidate — a “team player,” a “people person” and “detail-oriented.” Upon reading the résumé with 10 typos and conducting the interview, I frequently find just the opposite. I need to hear these glowing descriptions from their references before I can believe them.

There may be a reason this sister isn’t trying to help the letter-writer.

— HR Insights

DEAR HR INSIGHTS: Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Too often, we point the finger at others when things don’t go our way. When you take a good look at yourself, that’s when you can get some real insights about how to move forward.

Reframing yourself so that you show how your skills fit the needs of the company makes sense. That is why people get hired, right?

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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