Coworker’s Wants Me Fired.

Question:

I have a coworker who has been talking to other people in the office that he is trying to get me fired. I found this out when one of those coworkers told me to watch out for him and what he was saying and doing. What right do I have? Is there anything I can file against him? Harassment? Something?

Signed,

Watch My Back


Answer:

Dear Watch My Back:

You don’t have a right to file something against him unless he has discriminated against you because of your race, religion, national origin, sex, age, or physical disability. Your question tells me you want to fight this guy. But before you throw a punch investigate. It’s normal to tell someone about this. Sure you have the right to voice your worry, but don’t gossip with coworkers about what you’ve heard. See this as an opportunity to learn how to cope with such a rumor. Take your coworker’s advice to watch out.

Keep your eyes open. Don’t be obsessed with this rumor, but while doing your job to the best of your ability, observe what this individual does that relates to your job. What interactions have you had with him that affects his work and your work? What communication have you had with him? Do you greet him when you come in to work as you do to others? How does he respond? Have you ever spoken to him about your work or his? Once you have sized up your relationship, you can act. How? You can disclose what you’ve been told to the individual himself and/or to your boss. For example, when others aren’t around, you might say, “Jan, (or whatever is his name) can we talk? Is there something that I’ve done or not done that you don’t like?” This should get a response. You could follow up with a direct question, “Do you want to get me fired? Someone said you do.” It might be better to confront him directly than to wonder and worry about him. And you could add, “If you are against me working here, rather than behind my back tell others you want me fired, let’s you and me go together to our boss to bring your complaints.”

A second option is to go to your boss with this rumor that you’ve been told that Jan has said he wants to get you fired. Ask your boss to investigate if it is true and if you have caused Jan to dislike how you do your job. When you meet with your boss, you might say, “I’ve been working here for _____ years (or whatever is the time) and been doing my best to earn my pay. Recently I’ve heard that Jan said he wants to get me fired. Could you investigate if this is true and if there is something that I’ve done that makes his work difficult?”

Unfortunately rumors that a coworker wants another fired are not rare. Coworkers don’t always see eye-to-eye about how work should be done. Some work faster. Some take offence easily. Some roll their eyes as if to say another coworker is one brick short of a load. Some put down others in order to put themselves up. Some don’t have pleasant personalities. Some are jealous because others are blessed with better looks. Badmouthing among coworkers indicates a work group is not communicating as a team.

Team talk focuses on making each other’s jobs effective. Team talk asks are we pleasing internal and external customers. Team talk talks about talk. By that I mean in daily coworker huddles and weekly skull sessions coworkers ask and answer such questions as: What have we done this week that deserves applause? What has been not so good and could be better? Are we on the same page? How might be communicate to make each other’s work more effective and easier?

A rumor, such as the one that prompted your question, could be one of the best things that have ever happened to you if,¬¶. If you look in the mirror and ask: What might I do to not allow a bad-talk rumor upset me? Do I need to change my behavior? Can I learn from this how to cope with and fight back professionally and assertively? What might our work group do to make each other’s performance effective and pleasant? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Putting on your thinking cap to find ways to make all your coworkers proud of coming to work (that’s a practical meaning of “big WEGOS) might be the most effective way cope with this “want you fired” talk.

William Gorden