Co-worker Telling Lie

Question:

To make a long story short, I work at a hospital and was injured by two brothers fighting over their “power of attorney”. Because I was there trying to calm their verbal dispute, I got caught in the mayhem once they dispute turned physical, had my arm hurt, and was sent to the ER to rule out any injury. And I am fine…just sore. The only witness was myself and the two fighting brothers…but a co-worker, who for some reason as lied on/about me before, is telling people that this incident never happen, as if I was NOT assaulted. How should I handle this because frankly this is the last straw, where her lies are concerned?

Signed,

Hospital Worker,


Answer:

Dear Hospital Worker,:

Your problem is rather common in the public workplace. Insecure individuals find solace in making stronger peers seem weaker than them. But, this fact provides little solace to you in this time of professional crisis. Let’s look at it from several perspectives. This worker is probably her own worst enemy. Assess carefully. Do your other co-workers realize what is happening? It is possible that they are aware that her statements at times have no credibility? Are you the only one about whom she spreads gossip? If others suffer too, then you might let it slide. Most likely she will eventually “dig her own grave.” However, if her actions are creating widespread poor morale, then you can seize the opportunity and collaborate with other peers in seeking a solution. As a group, schedule a conference with your supervisor. Tell this person of authority that action is needed. After all, poor morale hinders performance. It can also create a hostile work environment. You might approach the supervisor from this angle, since such an environment is a breach of public law. Before this conference, you and your co-workers need to do your homework. Make a written list of specific incidents that have occurred and present it in your conference. Also ask for a follow up conference in order to be briefed on action taken. If none is taken, then refer to your workplace policy manual and file a grievance in keeping with written protocol. Prior to taking this action there are simpler things you might try. Sometimes we can kill with kindness. Take this employee a special treat and present it to her privately. Tell her that you know she was untruthful about this and other situations but that you forgive her. Indicate that you brought her this special something hoping she will have better days. This treat might be one of food. But it can also be something more concrete. A pin, bracelet, necklace etc will suffice. Ask her to wear the gift as a reminder that untruths can hurt. You hope she can use it as a crutch when temptation arises and avoid further episodes. Indicate to her that you (or others if you collaborate) considered going to your supervisor with the problem but wanted to give her a chance to correct her own behavior first. Be kind with this approach instead of condescending. Want a less subtle tactic? Get a copy of the incident report from security. Post it in the employee lounge with a note that the shift rumormonger struck recently and you want to set the record straight. Don’t mention the employee by name. Refer to her as the shift troublemaker, rumormonger, or some such reference. She will probably become incensed but, at the same time, will likely think twice before spreading further rumors. All these suggestions can work to your advantage. A conference and/or grievance present the more professional approach. A private conference and gift is the more humane one. You know the situation and employee best. If necessary, meet her on her own turf by posting a notice. Good luck in improving the work environment for all parties concerned.

Barry Hester