Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Upset By Former Colleague's Lies of Omission

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am struggling with how to handle a conflict with a former colleague who basically has rewritten history.

I hired a woman years ago to work with me on a project. The way she describes her work at the time doesn’t include me at all. It’s amazing to see how she talks about what turned out to be a pivotal period for her, and it is as if I wasn’t even there. Yet she literally worked under my direction.

This might not bother me as much, but she has been featured in the national media recently, and she highlights this period in her work history and talks about it as if she were the leader of the team. She doesn’t mention me at all. I’m dumbfounded by it. I don’t go around tooting my own horn, but this is ridiculous. In fact, a lot of people have brought this oversight to my attention because it is obviously untrue if you know anything about the company and the period of time she is describing. Part of me wants to write to the media outlets and clarify the truth with them. Or should I just confront her about her lies of omission? -- Revisionist History

DEAR REVISIONIST HISTORY: I would start with the direct approach. Reach out to your former colleague and ask if you can get together to talk. Congratulate her on the positive media she has been getting, and then ask her why she has chosen to tell an incomplete story. Point out what you believe the truth to be about the period in question. Say how disappointed you were to discover that when she tells her story, she puts herself in a role that she didn’t have while eliminating you from yours entirely. Tell her that many people have reached to you, upset over what she has said. Point out that it was recommended that you clarify it by going directly to the media sources that reported it wrong, but you decided to come to her first.

Listen to what she has to say. If you do not believe she is going to correct her mistakes, you may want to go to the media outlets, but only if you feel it is necessary for your own career. Engaging the media could turn it into a bigger mess.