Not Wanted and Now Watched

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss’ criticism: I have become paranoid; I feel that I am being watched and spied on. What to do advise?

When my response to my supervisor to relocate to another country was, “I’m not interested”, he proceeded by asking if it meant I am prepared to leave the organization rather than take that job. A day later, he told me that my presence in his department was forced upon the team by a person who is no longer in the organization. A week later, he came to the office with an HR representative, who told me that people has reported me for my aggressive and abusive behavior. Since then, I have become paranoid; I feel that I am being watched and spied on. What to do advise?

Signed, Am I Paranoid?

DearĀ Am I Paranoid?

From your brief description, it appears you and those who manage you are not getting along. Evidence of that is clear; you were confronted about being “forced upon the team” and then were accused of aggressive behavior. It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that you being watched and that that is ample cause to make you feel paranoid. Simply put: either you convince those in authority that you are valuable to your employer or you soon will be told to find work elsewhere.

What advice do I have for you to keep your job? From a distance, my advice will only be quite general. You probably could get better advice from a coworker who knows how well you perform and interact with coworkers and your supervisor. Or possibly your company has a counselor or someone in a position of employee assistance within Human Resources. That said, here are three suggestions that probably deserve your attention:

1. Self-analysis. Review what precipitated the several incidents that you cite. How long have you worked in this position? Have you gotten positive evaluation until these recent upsetting incidents? What has changed? Here is where a trusted coworker might help you see what you don’t. Don’t obsess or gossip about how your feel or point blame, but approach the accumulated-events as a time to do a career-path assessment.

2. Take the recent accusation seriously. Learn what were the words you spoke that were taken as aggressive–when and where and to whom. Learn if it was one or many incidents. Apologize and problem-solve to prevent ever again of being accused of aggressive behavior. One way to do that is to talk about talk; to collaboratively spell out the rules about job descriptions, who gives orders, and how work might be performed efficiently/effectively.

3. Write a story of the events and that have led up to how you feel. Who is hero/heroine and villain? What words have been spoken between you? For example, apparently the conversation regarding relocation went downhill. Yet it had the potential for you to enlist career advice of your superior. It should not be too late to do that. Bosses can become mentors if they are invited to do so. Might now be a time to enlist rather than to avoid his/her advice?

Finally, realize that work is hard enough in itself and working is harder when civility is lacking. Work should be and can be satisfying when one feels his/her work is well done and a part of something that makes the world more livable. I hope you can weather these days that have set you on edge and if not can find work elsewhere. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. This, my closing bit of advice, suggests that’s the byproduct of interdependent-mindedness and action. In a few weeks please update us on what you do and what has happened.

William Gorden