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DEAR HARRIETTE: Every time I hang out with my friend, he leaves random things in my car. A month ago, it was his glasses, and today he told me left his hat in my car. I never saw it because it was in my back seat, which is odd because he was never in my back seat. I don’t want to return his hat because I think he’s doing it on purpose so that he’ll have an excuse to hang out again. If he wanted to hang out, he could just say that. I don’t appreciate being tricked. Should I say something about this? — Feeling Tricked
DEAR FEELING TRICKED: Think about your friend. Is he shy? Does he seem timid around you at all? Could he secretly like you and be uncomfortable about expressing that?
More important: Do you like him? Is there any potential for sparks from your perspective? If so, you can playfully ask him why he keeps leaving stuff in your car. You can confront him about it with a pleasant, inviting approach.
If you are not interested in him, you can confront him more sharply. Ask him directly why he keeps leaving stuff in your car. Tell him he can get his hat whenever you see each other again, but right now you are busy. If you head off the reconnection, it will show your friend that his strategy is not working.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend thought that she could do better than the job that I wanted to recommend her for. She told me that she wanted to explore her options before settling on the company where I work. A few weeks passed, and she was starting to get a little more desperate on her job search, so she asked if I would still be able to recommend her for the position. It was too late when she changed her mind. My company had selected someone else I recommended for the position. My friend has been ignoring me ever since. It isn’t my fault that she chose not to take the offer. Did I do something wrong? Does she have a right to be mad at me? — Not My Fault
DEAR NOT MY FAULT: You did the right thing, and your friend ignored your connection and your kindness to her own detriment. She is feeling bad about her decision and, either consciously or unconsciously, is trying to shift the blame to you. Do not accept it. She is wrong.
Further, be wary of her in the future. Your reputation is everything. You nearly recommended her once, but she did not respond in a timely manner. Think twice about recommending her in the future. Do not allow her bad attitude today to influence your professional decisions. You did nothing wrong. She has no right to be mad at you. She is actually mad at herself.