A Coworker Lied About Me. What Can I Do?

Question:

A coworker told someone else that I’m not pulling my weight at work but she asked the other person to not say anything to me because she’s afraid of me. What can I do?

Signed,

Lied About


Answer:

Dear Lied About:

This brings to mind the old adage, “It takes two people to break your heart–an enemy to say something bad about you and a friend to make sure you hear about it.”

The first thing you can do is to consider your work and how much you are doing compared to others. Then, consider how you treat the person who complained about you. Maybe she doesn’t think she is lying. Maybe she sincerely doesn’t think you are doing as much work as others and maybe she really is intimidated by you.

If you can honestly say that your behavior and performance is equal to the work of almost everyone else, you can just keep moving forward and know the truth will show to everyone who matters. If you often have to be asked to help or if others are working when you aren’t, maybe you aren’t doing as much as they are and maybe this person is just the only one who is talking about it to someone who will repeat it to you.

If you’re really wanting to know, ask your supervisor how he or she feels about your work. You don’t need to report what you heard, just say you were wondering how your level of work compares to everyone else, because you want to be at the top when you can.

You supervisor may reassure you that you’re doing fine or may tell you that you could improve. Either way, it will look good that you asked.

If you don’t want any coworker to be afraid of you, be purposeful about being friendly, saying hello, responding to questions courteously and making eye contact with a smile or wave now and then. If you are doing those things already, it could be that the coworker is overly sensitive to many things and there is nothing you can do to change it.

Also consider the person who told you about it. Apparently the other coworker trusts that person and thinks they are working hard enough. What is the difference between the two of you?

The final thing is to consider what harm is caused by what the coworker said. If no one believes her, they will think less of her for saying it. If it’s not true she will have a hard time finding many people to agree. If many people do agree, your best approach is simply to show through your work and actions that they are wrong.

The bottom line though is that all that the most important person is your supervisor. He or she should know how much you are working. If your supervisor thinks you’re doing OK, that is a good indicator that you are. If your supervisor doesn’t really know what is going on in the workplace you’ll have to be the one to monitor yourself and make sure you’re doing your best.

I know it’s hurtful to have someone saying something bad about you behind your back. I wish the other person wouldn’t have said anything to you about it, because it doesn’t help for you to know. The only way you can benefit from this is if you use it as a way to improve your relationship with the coworker or if you can prove her wrong through your good work. I hope you’re able to do both of those things and I’m sure you will be able to.

This is just one of those unpleasant moments that come and go in work, but it doesn’t have to ruin things for you. Keep going and show the kind of person you really are.

Best wishes to you!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.