The Punxsutawney Spirit
Public apology sought for public disrespect
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went years without speaking to someone who told a cruel lie about me. That lie affected my friendships and even my family. It was so bad and so hurtful that part of me never recovered. It was hard to believe that someone I cared a lot about would intentionally lie about me to a host of other people. They recently reached out to me to apologize privately for the lie that they told. The disrespect was public, so I think the apology should be public, too. In order for me to move forward, I want a detailed public retraction of the lie. Is this a reasonable request? — Public Apology
DEAR PUBLIC APOLOGY:
Start by meeting with this person and listening to what they have to say. Find out why they chose to say those hurtful, untrue things in the first place. Explain the repercussions of their lie and how negatively it impacted your life. Thank the person for coming to you now with this apology. Then, make it clear that the private acknowledgment is not enough. Ask for the person to state the apology in detail in a public forum. Today that could be social media, a traditional news outlet or a community organization. Make it clear what you want, and try to get this person to agree.
If you are worried about how forthcoming the person ultimately will be, bring a witness with you to the in-person meeting. You can also state that you want to record the meeting before it begins, but remember that in some states it is illegal to record a phone conversation without consent.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine is going through a hard time. Her world has basically fallen apart. She is in the middle of a bad breakup and is having a lot of family issues. She moved recently, and it seems like everybody is bickering. I loaned her money back in early March. Although she is having a hard time, I am not rich, and I need the money back ASAP. I don't want to be insensitive. How should I go about asking for my money back? — Pay Me Back
DEAR PAY ME BACK: The problem with loans to friends is that you almost never get the money back on time, if at all. That's why many people recommend loaning only what you can afford to give away. Of course you deserve your money back. If you established a deadline for payment and you have either reached or passed it, you have the right to request your money now. You can do so with caution and compassion, but you also need to be realistic. If your friend is in the throes of a tumultuous breakup, she may not have the bandwidth to even think about her responsibility to you. That doesn't make it right, but it may make it real. You can express to her how desperately you need to be repaid so that you can handle your business — even if it's a payment plan. Good luck.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.