Advice column: I fear my colleague is saying things about me to others behind my back. What can I do?
I recently had an argument with a colleague after I found out that she had been interfering with my files and contacting clients behind my back to try to impress the boss. I am not normally confrontational, but I was really annoyed by her actions. When I confronted her, she seemed quite unconcerned and claimed I should have just been more aware of what was going on! However, I am more concerned that she seems to have spoken to others with a view to turning them against me. I don’t know what has been said, but some of the secretaries who were normally quite chatty with me don’t seem to be speaking to me, aside from about work-related issues. I am really frustrated as I don’t know what has been said by the work colleague, but she is clearly trying to turn others against me!
Office rumour and gossip is often a tactic used by disgruntled colleagues to stir up trouble at work. However, although such tactics may work in the short term, people are normally able to see through the façade in the long term, especially when any accusations are based on lies. Essentially, if she can do that to you then she will probably do it again to someone else and there will come a time when people will begin to question her credibility.
It may be worth speaking with one of the secretaries to question why they are seemingly treating you differently. However, depending on what has been said, you may not get a straight answer. Try to avoid bad mouthing your colleague, as you don’t want to risk coming down to her level, although you may just want to highlight in passing that there have been file handling issues that you have tried to address.
Try to remain calm and focus on your work: your colleague cannot keep up the façade forever. The more you try to carry on as normal, the more likely that others may eventually question your colleague’s credibility. Be comforted by the fact that loss of credibility at work will be much more detrimental to your colleague in the long term and override any short-term victory she may currently be feeling.
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