Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a coworker’s lies about a former relationship with a coworker:
There is a coworker of mine (whom I used to see), and he is now seeing someone else I work with. He has told her lies about our relationship and made me out to be some sort of psycho. She has told a few coworkers that I put glass underneath his tires. This is totally false. What are the steps I need to take to resolve this issue? I see this as a defamation of character.
Signed, Lies About Me
Dear Lies About Me:
Please try to be mindful of several factors when deciding how to confront someone strongly and peacefully. A confrontation doesn’t have to involve yelling and attacking. You might try to approach this with more curiosity than blame. Why would he want to spread these stories? What is his motivation to do this? Blame shuts down communication and if you are to stop these stories you first need to understand the problem. Maybe there was some unresolved issue when you stopped seeing each other or some issue he is hanging onto that is causing this. Try talking to him when you are feeling calm and strong, and choose a time without other co-workers present. Don’t attack him verbally about the glass under the tires story because he will just shut down or retaliate.It could work in your favor to use an element of surprise. He might expect you to explode on him over this, but if you were to ask him questions, such as did he really tell this woman that you put glass under the tires? If he says yes, say how you felt when you heard that lie, and that you would like it to stop. Then try reminding him that your relationship is over, and if this is true, you might say you want to do your job well and move on with your life.
This is a distraction and annoyance (use your words) and tell him you want these false statements to end. You may also want to talk to this other co-worker (whom he is seeing) alone about the rumors, and let her know your side and how it feels to have these rumors spread. None of this is easy, but if you are able to take the high road in this situation, your character will shine through and speak volumes to others in the office. Your actions could overshadow any attempts to defame your character.
Try to name your underlying goal (to end the lies? To have a comfortable work environment to go to every day and stay focused on it. It won’t help your peace of mind, effectiveness on the job, or overall quality of life if you fuel this into an ongoing feud for the whole office to be entertained by. Seeing conflict as a learning experience can transform how we act. It is an important step to building WEGO relationships. Please let us know what you do and how it works out.
Ian Heisey, Guest Respondent