Complaint Against Me–I’m In Limbo

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about malicious complaint:

I work for an “airline” company, but spend most of my time inside a customer location. I have been with my company for 15 years and been inside this customer location for 4 years without problems. Recently, a worker at the customer location bypassed his managers and company and went directly to my manager. This person accused me of using abusive language and bad body language? I had my manager contact my coworker and the customer location managers as my part of the investigation, because they know my personality and know I am not a person who uses abusive or profanity at the workplace. This person intentionally jumped over the “chain of command” of his own company to mine just to be malicious. Now I am waiting in limbo for what my company wants to do? What rights do I have?

Signed, In Limbo

DearĀ In Limbo:

This is an uncomfortable time for you; to be accused of “using abusive language and body language”. I imagine it has caused you to look in the mirror and to reflect on how you are seen by others, and that is not all bad. Most of us can benefit from honestly asking, “Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?” or “Am I as polite and sensitive to all as I want others are to me?” Am I cheerful or might personal frustrations have sometimes soured my communication? Get my point?

Don’t allow this one complaint to cause you to be defensive. Do have it prompt you to ask what might have provoked the complaint? Sure it might be malicious. But why? Possibly all you can do is to be strong enough to see it as mean and to realize that the problem is not you but the one who lodged the complaint.

Probably your company has a policy book that explains its procedure for investigating complaints. Look at that and also learn from your superior and/or your personnel or Human Resources what are your “rights”. I expect your rights are to learn what is the evidence that this individual gave to support his/her complaint. Also probably you will be presented with a written statement of the findings of this investigation and will be allowed to present a rebuttal in writing. When and if management determines you should apologize or be disciplined you likely will be afforded a hearing. There probably will not have a case made against you if you have been with this company for 15 years and this customer location for four without previous complaint “without problems”.

Does your company have a practice of employee review? And if so, you should have a record of satisfactory performance. And this one complaint shouldn’t hold a lot of weight.All these thoughts undoubtedly have crossed your mind again and again. Now you can obsess about them and become bitter or you can resolve to go about your work as the kind of responsible helpful person you want to be. I don’t know what kind of training and protocols you have for effective customer encounters and interdepartmental communication. But possibly this complaint that cannot help but make you uncomfortable can cause you to think through what kind of communicating might make your encounters more effective and personally satisfying. I know of no work group that cannot benefit from weekly skull sessions in which it asks such question as: What did we do lately that deserves applause? What might we do better? Can we cut wasted time, wasted supplies, and wasted energy? How might we make each others’ work easier and more effective? Are we making our little circle of the world a bit sunnier? And depending on your particular situation, you might ask such questions as what might we do to help our company thrive and not just survive?

I’m sure these thoughts are more than you expected and wanted when you sent your question. Put aside those that don’t apply. Use those that do. Hopefully, my advice will prompt you to weather this cloud that overshadows you. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my signature sentence. What might that mean for you personally and your work group? If you find time, send a note on how this all works out. I predict it will.

William Gorden