A Coworker Lied About Me To My Boss

Question:

I’ve encountered a terrible situation here at work. About 8 months ago a new gal started working in our office. Almost from the beginning, she started treating me like I reported to her and has been condescending. Then it got worse. She told my boss that I had said some things about her that is completely untrue. My boss got so upset that she gave me a verbal and written warning. Ever since, the relationship with my boss has gone south. Now my boss virtually ignores me. Worse yet, she picks on me incessantly. I had a very good relationship, but now she eats lunch with this troublemaker, and I’ve been left out in the cold. My reputation with my boss is in shambles. I defended myself and told my boss that I never said those things, but she doesn’t believe me.

My coworker has continued to lie and cause trouble so I’ve taken it to HR. From the looks of it, the boss still believes my lying coworker and it seems like I’ll never see justice for the wrongdoing. What else can I do? I am at a complete loss as to how this has happened and what to do about it.

Signed,

Told Lies About Me


Answer:

DearĀ Told Lies About Me:

Work is hard enough without difficult interpersonal troubles. Since you have taken your unhappy situation to HR, it will be wise for you to get their counsel. Can you prove you didn’t say what your coworker reported you said? It is almost impossible to prove you didn’t say something; and you shouldn’t have to. It is the responsibility of the coworker to prove you did. What proof did Ms. Trouble give? Did she have witnesses or a tape record of your communication? To whom did she say you told lies about her? Did your boss investigate and did that person to whom you supposedly told lies about your coworker support Ms. Trouble accusation? Is it possible that you complained about this new employee–about her bossing you, and that this was interpreted as badmouthing her? It would be natural for you to gossip to someone about a new coworker’s bossiness if she were. And it could be that that someone, who heard you complain, might have made it a bit juicier and passed that along to other coworkers.

From this distance, I don’t mean to do more than help you see how some complaints could be magnified into lies. You have a right to submit a rebuttal to what is placed in your file. You have a right to ask HR to investigate, and if it finds lack of proof, to request you supervisor delete the warning. However, that won’t solve the conflict between you and the coworker or between you and your supervisor. You can continue to do good work. You can go about your business in a friendly professional manner but not craving friendship. You can ask that Ms. Trouble meet with you in private and you can apologize if something you said painted her badly. Then you can learn if there is any way to rise above this “you said, I didn’t say” conflict. You can propose to HR and to your supervisor that you want to be a positive contributor to the workplace and ask your supervisor to be a coach that develops your workgroup into a team. You can find ways to cut wasted supplies, time, energy, and suggests ways to make each other’s jobs easier. You can propose to HR that your workgroup needs interpersonal training and team building. Or you can allow this conflict to fester and escalate to a talk-down fight or flight situation; until one or the other of you is fired. Possibly you have thought about these and other things you might do. Conflict doesn’t have to end badly. It can be seen as motivation to find an overarching something that can’t be gotten working solo and/or at odds. To rise above conflict, you need to use your imagination and creativity to find that payoff that you must work together to accomplish, even if you don’t like each other. One such thing is “wanting” to come to work rather than hating to get out of bed with Monday blues. Another overarching possibility is beautifying your office, making it pleasing to the eye. Use your imagination. Don’t allow this to sour you. Don’t make it worse by more “here we go again looks” and sarcasm. You can pretend that this new coworker in really not named Trouble and then work around her the best you can. You can request that HR transfer you to another department. Some places are great places in which to work. Some are not. So we can consider ourselves lucky or unfortunate, or we can do what is reasonably possible to assertively and creatively shape the place where we are to be a bit more like the kind of place we wish we had lucked into. That thought is embedded in my signature: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden