I’m losing a battle I don’t want to fight. The problem recently erupted, but has simmered for three months, ever since I let my manager know my coworker was cheating on her time sheet. I’m not a narc and even liked my coworker and didn’t want to out her, but her lack of integrity made me sick. I ultimately decided if I didn’t say something I was almost as bad as she because I was letting her get away with it.
My manager asked me to keep an eye on the situation because the way my coworker cheated was hard for him to prove. To make a solid case against her, someone had to notice when she wasn’t at her work station or in the office, and then look around and spot that she was hiding out on other floors in the building, doing personal business. I don’t know how my coworker found out I’d told on her, but once she did, she decided she was out for my blood.
My worry is she has many friends in our office and has been clever in saying things that cast me in a negative light. She’s told others I’m unfair to her and that I’ve biased our manager against her. While those who work closest with her realize she justifies her actions instead of ever admitting responsibility, those who don’t work directly with her see her as a warm, friendly person and believe that I’ve wronged her. How do I combat this?
You can ride out this office storm as long as you don’t fall into the traps this situation and coworker has set for you.
Trap #1: resentment
Your manager asked you do something because you had the ability to monitor your coworker. In the upcoming firestorm, he’ll have your back to the extent he can. Don’t resent him, or the others in your office. We tend to side with those we like and at least partially believe what we hear. Your likeable coworker has protected herself by creating a positive office persona. No wonder others feel comfortable enough with her to give credence to what she says about you.
Trap #2: don’t air your views
Many cheats are tremendously personable. If you share your views about her, even if you have the facts and they don’t, those who like Ms. Congeniality will consider you mean-spirited. No matter how tempted you feel to explain what’s really happening, keep your ego in check and bite your tongue.
Trap #4: don’t assume the worst
While you may feel all your coworkers think you’re the problem, mature employees realize there’s more to a story than one person’s side and know that what they’ve heard from your coworker is exactly that, one-sided.
Trap #5: Don’t isolate
You may be tempted to avoid office functions, particularly if you know others view you coldly. Don’t. If you avoid your coworkers, you eliminate the opportunity for them to see you as the person you are. So engage with your coworkers, even those who view you with suspicion. If you continue playing your “A” game, they’ll gradually wonder if they’ve been played – by your coworker.
Trap #6: Take care of yourself
You took an action because you felt you had to. Never regret that. By doing so, you stood up for what you felt was right.
Now, stand up for yourself by not letting toxic behavior of any kind get to you. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When you’re judged negatively by others, it’s easy to let that poison seep into your mind. Let go of what you can’t control and remember that you did the right thing. Eventually everyone else will realize it as well.
© 2018, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully” and founded The Growth Company, an Avitus company. Curry is now a Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting at Avitus Group. Send your questions to her at Lcurry@avitusgroup.com, follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10 or at www.workplacecoachblog.com.