Former Friend Still Creating Problems

Question:

I lived and worked with my best friend for a year and we grew very close. I started dating a fellow co-worker and for 5 months the three of us got on together. My friend and I moved into a new house and within 2 weeks she stopped talking to me. When I went into work I realised some people were treating me differently. I tried to ignore this knowing I had done nothing wrong but decided to look for another job.

Then one day I came home from work to find that my friend had moved out without telling me. When I went into work I was being ignored by her and even went so far that she shoved her way past me. I was upset and had to leave the shop. This is when my boss took the two of us into his office and talked with us. She accused me of ditching her for my boyfriend. I accepted that I had been spending more time with him but it was unreasonable the way she treated me both at home and in work. We talked and even went out together and this improved the working environment. However, she continued to ignore my boyfriend, a supervisor in the shop, despite his efforts to make amends. So after a few months I got a new job and witnessed my ‘friend’ and I was leaving. When I started my new job I decided to cut all ties with her as I did not like the person that she had become.

The problem now is the relationship between her and my boyfriend. She constantly blames him on things that go wrong in her life or work. I found this out through a mutual friend. Last week my ‘friend’ called into work in tears and asked for my boyfriend as he was in charge that night. She informed him that her mum was ill and she would not be in the rest of the week. However when she returned to work the next week she said that he had made this up and that it was her that was sick. We know that this is a lie as she was in another employee’s house prior to phoning and she was fine. On the monday morning she left work again saying she was ill. She then returned later that night to talk with the boss and admitted that she wasn’t sick nor was her mum.

The boss gave her the week off (as a holiday) and told her to phone him to let him know if she was coming back the next week. All the other employees in the shop are disguisted at her and the boss as she is being treated differently.

A few days later my boyfriend was talking to a manager who informed him that a complaint made against her was ignored because the customer told my boyfriend, and apparently the boss didn’t believe him because of their ‘history’. The manager herself had told him about an incidient where she swore at a regular customer and stormed off, something anyone else would have received a written warning for but she eluded. It was then brought to my attention that she did the same thing with the girl she had moved in with so I think it is quite clear its not something I did. My boyfriend has invested six years in the shop and has never had any problems with anyone else, so why won’t the boss believe him?

I think he should bring this issue up with the boss but he thinks it is best to see how things work out naturally.I don’t want to pressure him to do anything but it is really bothering me, as I feel she is taking her grudge against me out on him. I would talk with her myself but my parents do not wish me to get involved with her as they think she is unstable and I could make the situation worse. I don’t know what to do! Any advice would be much appreciated as this problem has been affecting me for 9 months and only seems to be getting worse.

Signed,

Frustrated


Answer:

Dear Frustrated:

One of the first rules of work effectiveness is to keep your personal life and work life separate. You seem to be mixing various frustrations, irritations and grievances to the point that you are sensitized to everything your former friend has done and is doing, even though you are not even part of it anymore. You are obsessively thinking about her as much as you accuse her of obsessively thinking about you! The solution isn’t easy but it’s obvious–move on in your life and focus on your own personal and professional development. Leave her alone, so you don’t become the evil witch that you currently think of her as being.

All of the things you mention as being frustrating are inconsequential things in the grand scheme of your life. It doesn’t harm you personally that your former friend gets by with things she perhaps should not. Even her coworkers, who you are talking to, are not losing money out of their paychecks if she is a liar. It doesn’t even harm you that she is a supervisory challenge for your boyfriend. She will eventually either get caught, lose her job, improve, or be shown to be a good employee who is being picked on by others. But none of that involves you at all.

I don’t mean to be harsh about it, but consider how frustrated the manager at work must have been and continue to be at this back and forth bickering and personality fight! And, consider how much more difficult you make it for your boyfriend when you talk, worry and fret about something he should leave at work and not be discussing outside of work. He sounds as though he’s doing fine on his own. If he follows your advice and loses his job, how will he feel?

The situation apparently has a lot of dynamics and ins and outs that have built up over time, so there is probably no quick solution to any of it. But, when it comes to how you feel, what you do and what your boyfriend does, the solution is quite easy: Stay out of your boyfriend’s work life and move on with your own work and private life. Stop stirring up things that aren’t your business and give your friends and family a break from endlessly discussing someone who no longer is your friend, doesn’t work with you, doesn’t live with you and is of no value to you and your future.

All of that tough advice is not meant to imply that you were wrong to begin with. But, you are not approaching this effectively now and you will be happier when you change your approach. Others will see you as a more mature person as well.

Put the focus on you and your boyfriend and your fun times away from work. Learn a new hobby, start cooking, help your parents as a thank you for the things they do for you, start on a new fitness program, or get yourself immersed in something else interesting. Soon you will realize how much better your mind works when there isn’t a corner of it reserved for something or someone negative. Best wishes to you with this. Onward, forward and upward in your thinking and life!

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.