Falsely Accused Of Threatening A Coworker

Question:

I’ve been working in my job for two years. Me and a coworker dont get along, so I tend to ignore her. I’ve spoken to my boss about our confrontations and he has said to ignore her.

Now she’s telling my boss that I am threatening her and she’s calling security on me–but her accusation isn’t true. My problem is that my boss believes her and not me. I don’t know what to do or how to stop the lies.

Signed,

Lied About


Answer:

Dear Lied About:

This sounds like an unpleasant situation for everyone! If your organization is large enough to have a security section, it probably has a Human Resources section. Perhaps they can help you find a way to get this problem out in the open and resolved. Your manager should step in to take acton as well. That might mean trouble for you or for both of you, but at least it would be a response.

As for your boss believing the other person: It seems to me that if you were an overall very pleasant person who never acts hostile or unpleasant, no one would believe that you could threaten someone. If you have complained in an angry manner and have used words that sound hostile and confrontational your boss might believe you went further than that. Only you know how you have talked about your coworker and what others might have seen you do.

I’m not accusing you of it and realize that the coworker may be doing much worse things. I’m just saying that few people will believe a dramatic thing like threats, if the person being accused is completely opposite of that kind of personality.

Similarly, Security won’t do anything about a situation where there are no witnesses and no evidence. So, it could be your coworker is merely talking big but won’t follow through. It sounds as though she may be going to the boss just like you have, only she has escalated it some.

I think you should go to your boss and say you’re worried about all of this and are especially concerned about the effect it has on work in general. Ask your boss is he or she thinks your actual work is being done well. If your boss says it is, you can focus on the problem with the coworker. If your boss acts like your work has some problems too, you can put your focus on work and that might help you take your focus off your coworker.

Rather than complaining in a general way to your boss about your coworker, ask your boss if you can come to him or her the moment it appears tempers are flaring. Have specific quotes and actions to report, not just general gripes. Ask for supervisory intervention, not just for your boss to listen and do nothing. Make sure you can show you have made an effort to not just ignore her (which always comes across as rude), but to interact in a civil and courteous way, even though you’ll never be friends.

As I said at the beginning, I hold your manager responsible for this being allowed to continue. Telling an employee to ignore a problem isn’t a solution. So, if you know your boss well enough, you might want to ask him to intervene and help you AND the coworker put your focus on work rather than the ongoing battle. Think of how the other employees feel, too! Even if his criticism is directed at both of you or at you as much as the coworker, at least you’ll know what he or she is thinking about it.

You would be more likely to get action if you put your concerns in writing and are willing to be interviewed by HR or others about it.

I believe you have it in your power to improve things, but you will probably have to submerge your most negative thoughts and eliminate negative reactions, if you want to keep your job there or want to work without a lot of conflict.

Best wishes to you with this challenging situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.