Office Prank Kept Secret

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about secret prank:

A phone call prank took place by my own boss’ boss. All the office knew the truth except me, and male co-worker and his wife. The truth came out 3 months later while all the others were drinking. My boss told me to forget about this because we needed a good relationship with her boss; however the couple still doesn’t know about it. She was afraid their feelings would be hurt. What about mine? Something relating to this came up again today. She still wants me to forget it happened, but the couple knows nothing, and he brought it up not me. How do I handle this? It has hurt me really badly.

Signed, Feel Guilty

DearĀ Feel Guilty:

You need to bite your tongue and push this guilt way back in your mind or to have a frank talk with your boss. Your boss might be correct in telling you to keep your mouth shut. Probably she thinks you’re obsessed about something that is incidental. I don’t know from here. But whether it is unimportant or would hurt if disclosed, you will continue to feel badly until you clear the air.You need not feel guilty about wanting to clear the air. Find a time to explain to your boss why you feel “hurt” and feel “really badly” in keeping this secret. Then together you can agree to “forget it” or to spill the secret, or you can disagree about what to do. If you disagree, you still will have the ethical question; to disclose it to the couple on your own or to respect your boss’ decision to stay mum.

Your question implies that you have a conscience and that is good. So many people can lie without blinking an eye. But you will have to think through why you “hurt” and if that hurt is something you are compelled to resolve by openly disclosing the prank of three months past and possibly apologizing for withholding it. Or after reflecting on this secret prank, you might decide it is indeed incidental and that life can go on without saying anything.

Someone from afar can’t salve your “hurt” whatever it is by telling you what to do. I hope you can make a decision about this and work through it. Playing it over and over in your head will distract from having a healthy relationship within your work group; with coworkers and boss. Get it resolved in you head and then focus on working together with hands, head, and heart. Focus on doing what you and your coworkers are hired to do; to serve well your internal and external customers. Doing that takes and makes big WEGOS, and that is what you want for all concerned. Feel free to get other advice but don’t make more of this than is reasonable. Keep us posted as to what you do, if you like.

William Gorden