Avoiding Trash Talker

I have a coworker I distance myself from because she trash talks about others and dupes people that she is a victim then uses others to gang up on one specific individual. When I interact with them I’m always professional and kind even if they spew passive aggressive comments at me. Recently sadly that co worker’s father has died. I wanted to give my condolences but felt wary about letting them into my life again. I decided I’ll talk to them in person at work instead of calling. Unexpectedly a manager came up to me asking why I personally didn’t contact her or call her to see if she was okay.

I knew from there on she told management that I didn’t contact her at all. In my defense I told the manager I was going to talk to her in person when she came back. Currently at work I’m in line to be promoted. This isn’t her first time sabotaging my chances at getting promoted or turning people against me. How should I approach this professionally and firmly stand up for myself?–

Signed–Cause For Distance 

Dear Stay Distant:

You are wise to avoid contact with this coworker and her clique. A note of sympathy, probably would have been one way to maintain a distance easier than to talk with her once she returns. A simple “My sympathy, Amanda,.” once she returns need not signal you want to be close to this woman. 

Apparently this coworker will continue to try to make you look bad. That’s something you will have to put up with so long as you work within the same area. Sometimes trash talk can be stopped by making it a topic on the agenda at a staff meeting. How might we communicate more effectively? should be a matter of a staff meeting from time to time, just as should be What are we doing well and what needs improving? I frequently suggest a work group collaboratively compile a list of communication do and don’ts. Then post it and review it after a couple of weeks to see if you are living up to it or if it needs changing.

    Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS–William Gorden