How To Control Office Back-Stabbing

Question:

How do I handle co-workers who like to send emails which damage my reputation, spread rumors and make my ability seem questionable to our boss?

Before this the boss said he was happy with my performance. Nowadays he seems easily swayed and thinks I am not a team-worker.

How do I let him see the truth? How do I get to good terms with this co-worker? Ii have asked him what have I done wrong to create this dislike in him and what can I improve. He always says “nothing”, but the attacks continue. This really effects my work and I feel really misunderstood. My boss gradually misunderstands my motives and intentions more and more. How can I let him see that other people are wearing masks and aren’t being honest?

Signed,

Feeling Attacked


Answer:

DearĀ Feeling Attacked:

There are usually two steps to improving a situation like this. First is to ensure you are doing an excellent job and that it is well documented through what you write and say. The second is to keep lines of communication open with your boss and be honest with him about your concerns.

Don’t make it your goal to let your boss see how dishonest the coworker is. Make it your goal to let the boss have no doubt about how effective YOU are.

If you are producing a good work product and are a knowledgeable, skillful and dependable employee who cooperates with others, your boss won’t believe rumors or hints to the contrary.

Make sure your emails are effective and that others hear you being pleasant, offering to help, and cooperating. That doesn’t require fake niceness, it is just a matter of being noticeable about your efforts.

If your coworker is dishonest there is no point in trying to find out what you’ve done to make him lie about you, because he won’t tell you the truth. Your best approach is to be civil and courteous and just understand that he is not trustworthy. Maybe one day he will change, but for now you have to realize he is willing to make you look bad for his own reasons. But also keep in mind that your coworker may think he is being truthful. He may be frustrated with your actions or your work and feel that you aren’t making an effort to improve. However, he probably doesn’t want to get in a fight with you about it, so it’s easier for him to say that nothing is the matter, then hint around to your boss.

Consider suggesting to your boss that your group could have weekly or monthly meetings to share concerns and work out differences in an open setting. That would reinforce your willingness to work together and would also be a positive action to build the team rather than only trying to defend yourself.

At the same time you are talking to your boss about that, be honest with him about how you are feeling over work. Ask him the four questions I often suggest to employee in situations like yours.

*What am I doing in work or behavior that you want me to keep doing exactly the same? *What should I do a bit less of? *What should I do a bit more of? *What do you want me to stop doing completely?

That will let your boss know you want to do good work and will give him a chance to be honest with you about how he is seeing your work.

The truth is that your coworker can complain all he wants, but if there is no evidence of a problem, your boss isn’t likely to believe it. Apparently there is something he is not happy about involving your behavior or performance and it would be better for you to know that than to wonder.

While all of this is going on remember that your subordinates have worries of their own. Put your focus on helping them do well and feel confident and you won’t spend too much time worrying about how you are being talked about.

There will always be the office issues you mention, sad to say. So, your best action is to keep moving forward and not get bogged down in worry about it. If you are doing good work you don’t have to worry. If you are not doing good work, you should improve. Either way, you can keep moving and show through your words and deeds that your life is focused on the positive not the negative.

Best wishes with this issue. 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.