Co-worker Told My Boss I’m On Drugs!

Question:

My co-worker hates me & is extremely passive/aggressive about it. I was managing, as the feeling is mutual. He’s a lame teammate who constantly turns his work in late and veers off procedure. He thinks I snap at him and since I’m young(ish) secretary this sets him off.

A few months ago, he emailed my boss and told him that “everyone” on our team is “concerned” about my “Anger”, that I have a “medical condition” that I obviously can’t control, and that I’m TAKING MEDICATION, and what can he (the co-worker) do to “help” me?

I do not have any kind of personality or mood disorder. I am not and have never been medicated, and I have very close and easy relationships with 6 out of 9 team members (3 of them are new hires). All of who laughed at his idiocy and told me don’t sweat it.

My boss held a lame “mediation” meeting at which my co-worker feigned huge “concern” about me, said a number of times he wanted to “help” me, and basically insulted my intelligence beyond belief. I told him to quit being condescending, and I told my boss that the best we could hope for was an uneasy discomfort between us, given that this guy lied about my health to my supervisor in order to get me fired. Uneasy discomfort ever since. And now he’s started complaining to our new boss that I’m not nice enough to him and I treat him badly. I am sick to my stomach about this. I can barely come into work every day without crying about it because I am so upset. Do I have ANY moves to make – anything that I can do? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Signed,

Sick To My Stomach


Answer:

Dear Sick To My Stomach:

Your co-worker’s behavior is enough to make almost anyone sick to her stomach. Perhaps all I can do is to tell you to toughen up and not allow this individual get to you. But here are several overlapping suggestions for you to think through before you act: 1. The first order of business is to do what you can to lessen the stress you feel. That may entail seeking counseling with Employee Assistance or someone your workplace has assigned to this kind of situation, or with a family friend, a relative, pastor, etc. Talk alone won’t solve the problem, but it might help you see beyond this immediate frustrating situation and find support. Recounting about the distress you feel with a counselor might help you think this through and is much better than unloading on family members or gossiping in frustration with other coworkers. You might even come to see this as a learning experience; learning how to cope with your hurt and anger, find ways to avoid and see the humor in this kind of working relationship. 2. Determine exactly what your annoying coworker needs from you and you from him. Otherwise avoid contact. Tell him that you think it will be best for both of you to only interact when one or the other of your assignments demand that you do. 3. Don’t complain to coworkers about this man. Avoid more gossip. If anything, say you have resolved to cope the best you can until your boss deals with the situation. 4. Talk with your boss (new boss) about this co-worker and request that your job station be located as far from him as possible. Also request that you not be assigned to projects in which he is not involved. 5. The problem between you and this coworker is not yours to resolve alone. Your boss or Human Resources should set forth rules about when and if you two communicate. Since the mediation session, in your opinion, did not stop this fellow’s complaints, it is time for you to initiate taking the matter further and to inform your boss that you think you must. Prepare a list of this man’s behaviors that trouble you with dates and times since the mediation. Note the events that appear to have triggered his aggressive/passive action. Take the time once again to look in the mirror and think through what role you played for him to hate you and you coming to hate him. Note also the problems you have completing your assignments due to him. Focus on how what has happened adversely affects doing your work. It is ok to mention how upset you are, but don’t tell whomever you speak with that you are a basket case because of him. Put in writing all of this as succinctly as possible and what you want to happen, for example, to have your workstation moved, to not have him speak to you or gossip about you, to not be assigned to projects with him. Take several copies of this with you when you meet with the appropriate party. 6. Apparently, your supervisor/boss and workgroup do not meet regularly to plan and review what each of you need from each other and as a whole to learn how you might function as an effective team. I recommend that workgroups meet weekly to address such questions as: · What are we doing that deserves applause? · Are there things that we might do to better serve our internal and external customers? · What might we do to make each other’s jobs easier and more effective? Can you choose from the above a course of action or use it to prompt a constructive and creative resolution to your unhappy and unproductive situation? Work is hard enough without a coworker hating you or you him. Is there a way to shift the focus from your distress to actions that engage your work group in cutting wasted time, supplies, duplication, and energy. What would happen if your work team focuses on ways to satisfy and delight your internal and external customers? Working together with hands, head and heat takes and makes big WEGOS. Will you get back to us about what you do and if anything works?

William Gorden