A reader writes: Dear Alexandra, ten years ago in my first job out of school, a colleague I thought was my friend stole my new product idea and took all the credit. Well, it’s a small industry and now I find myself forced to work closely with this person. I swore I’d never talk to him again. What should I do?
I’m very sorry this happened to you. Sometimes people do things we feel we cannot forgive. But I’m going to encourage you to try. My first reason is that perhaps this was more of a misunderstanding than a betrayal. Even though I don’t know the specifics, I can say with certainty that there are very few truly evil people in the world. Maybe he thought he arrived at the idea himself, or maybe was so insecure about making a contribution that he was grasping at straws.
My second reason is that harboring anger and resentment against this person will only serve to negatively impact you emotionally and professionally. Even if his behavior was indisputably callous, it was ten years ago and he has hopefully matured since then, so look at it as water under the bridge and aim to make a fresh start with him.
Remember that you can forgive, but you don’t have to forget. There is no reason to blindly trust this person again until he has earned it. I’m just saying to get over the grudge and move on so that you can be as effective as possible.
This totally applies to college. If you are involved on Grounds, you will definitely need to collaborate with people, share ideas, and work in groups. This can happen.