Threats And Name Calling

Question:

When I asked a coworker to stop interfering and writing on the “Up” sheet, she flew into a tirade, threatened to punch me, threatened to get me fired, called me crazy and a liar and cheater. This person is the owner’s sister in a small furniture business. We were both put on probation and I was intimidated and reprimanded by the boss.

Signed,

On Probation


Answer:

DearĀ On Probation:

From here, it is impossible to know if your co-worker is the only one to blame; however, whatever happened your boss decided both you and your co-worker were at fault. Therefore the question that you did not ask is: Where do I go from here?

First you need to examine the causes of your co-worker’s inflammatory outburst. What really was behind it? Surely just one polite request not to write on the “Up” sheet, whatever that is, was not the only cause. Was there not some brewing conflict between you? It is doubtful that you two were working together as a team? So what might have led to this outburst? In this case, it doesn’t appear that this threat to punch you or get you fired was a threat that should be reported to the police; however, if a menacing threat to your life is made that is a criminal act, and you can make than clear to your boss. Second, whether you can determine if you were in part to blame is not so important as can you put this behind you. Can you apologize if you did or have done things that annoyed her? Might you request of her a time out session to learn what really is troubling her and if there is any way that you can mend fences? And, even if you don’t like each other, can you two agree on what is each of your assignments so that neither of you trespass on the other’s turf? Rather than just put each of you on probation, probably it would have been wise for you boss to clarify what is and is not your assignments and what is and is not acceptable ways to confront each other. But since he did not do that, possibly you two can hammer that out or ask his assistance in doing so. Third, you undoubtedly realize that the odds are against you in this workplace unless you cannot come to a meeting of minds with this owner’s sister. One of one’s own blood is thicker than yours. You must decide how important is this job to you and what are the prospects of doing well within this family-run business. You can fight to add value to this furniture business and to be valued for what you contribute. You can do what you can to be so valuable that the boss would fire his sis rather than you if things don’t go well again, BUT the odds are that will be like putting your money on the horse who came in behind the owner’s horse in the last two races. So might this be a time for you, while still trying to stay on the track, to get your resume ready and prepare for work elsewhere? Do these thoughts make sense? Work is hard enough without fighting with the boss’s sister. Surprise me. Give reconciliation a fair try. Do not see yourself as a victim. Think of yourself as a can-do, can-lick this. And get back to us after a few weeks to tell us what you have done and how it is going. In this workplace and/or in the next, see if my signature advice can be realized: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden