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Dealing With Office Drama: The Office Friend Conundrum

9 Oct

If you work in an office with anyone other than yourself you are likely to experience some sort of office drama at one point or another. Maybe you told a co-worker that you trusted that you went on a date only to find out that she went and blabbed your news to everyone else or maybe you say something about one co-worker that somehow gets back to that co-worker and discover that they are upset with you. Whatever it is, we all know that drama isn’t fun, especially when it’s at the office – the very place that you spend more time than you do in your own house.

In my office I have two young women that I consider to be pretty good friends. We enjoy Friday lunches together, keep each other updated on one another’s lives, and sometimes plan out-of-office get-togethers where we sip on drinks and discuss things other than work. I would say that I feel pretty comfortable telling these women a lot of things, and sometimes I find that it is hard to determine where a line exists and if there even is one.

So I will give you an example of some recent drama that I dealt with at the office. One of my office friends (Office Friend A) had an upcoming wedding and me and the other office friend (Office Friend B) were planning on attending. About a week before the wedding, Office Friend B came up and told me that she was not able to attend the reception. A few days later I was talking to Office Friend A and simply asked if she was upset or disappointed that Office Friend B gave last-minute notice that she was not attending the reception (likely after the bill for her plate had already been paid). Office Friend A brushed it off and said no, she didn’t care. I told her I was glad she wasn’t bothered and relayed a story of when my husband and I got married and how disappointed I was when people cancelled at the last-minute. Fast forward an hour when Office Friend B comes into the office and breezes past my door at lightening speed (when she usually spends the time to come in and say hello). When I tried to say hi to Office Friend B later that day I could tell she was upset with me. She is one of those people who is always happy and chipper, so when she gave me a snarly look I knew she was upset.

It was instantaneously obvious to me that Office Friend A had said something to Office Friend B about my question. I became immediate anxious and uncomfortable, so I spoke to Office Friend A to ask if she was upset with me. Come to find out she was, and yes she had said something to Office Friend B. While I feel that I did nothing wrong (yes I offended them, but it wasn’t an intention offense), I hated being in the midst of office drama and having to be around these two women who were upset with me. While I could have held my head up high sure that I did nothing wrong, I decided to suck up my pride and send both of them apology emails. In the end the drama was resolved and everything was ok.

So, what did that little fiasco teach me? First it taught me that while these girls are my friends and while I confide in them with regard to personal matters, I can’t get too personal at work. It also taught me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, drama is always possible, especially at work.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or in a completely different situation involving drama and work, here are some tips:

  • If you think that you did something to offend someone, think about apologizing and taking the blame even if you feel that you did nothing wrong. Apologies go a long way and dealing with upset co-workers isn’t worth your pride.
  • If you feel that someone at your work is gossiping about you and saying bad things that could hurt your career or reputation with higher-ups, then say something to your boss. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is important that your boss know what is going on so they are prepared when someone says something negative about you.
  • If you and another co-worker just can’t seem to get alone, avoid that co-worker, and when you can’t avoid them just simply ignore them. I know plenty of people who have co-workers they despise and they simply get through the day by being as professional as possible while ignoring them and removing themselves from situations involving that person.
  • If you have to work closely with someone who has caused drama in your office, tread lightly. Don’t engage in office gossip and NEVER say anything about anyone that you don’t want to get back to them. These people always seem so sincere and interested in your opinion, but they won’t think twice about throwing you under the bus to spread a little office gossip.

All in all I have come to learn that while you can have good work friends, you can’t be as candid and open with them as you can your real friends.

Have you guys dealt with office drama? What did you do to make the situation better?

Forget The Gossipers And Move On

22 Mar

I will admit that I am often too concerned about what other people are saying about me behind my back or what I “think” they are saying about me. This concern has probably been a part of my life since junior high, as is the case with most people. Sometimes I meet someone who tells me, “I really don’t care what they think about me,” and maybe they really don’t, but my guess is that most people do care about pleasing others and having others like them. It is part of our human nature to want to be wanted and liked.

We have all felt the sting of rejection and let down before, and sometimes we have been the cause of it. So, as we get older we try to surround ourselves with people who don’t make us nervous or make us wonder what they are saying behind our backs. This is why you marry your best friend, why you see your family more often than you did when you were a teenager, and why you keep those few good girls on speed dial. But sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we feel as if we are right back in the middle of high school. You find out people whom you see every day are talking about you – like your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends. You discover that there are rumors floating around about you – some which may be partially true, but most of which are completely false. What hurts the most is that you find out that a person whom you thought you knew or were “friends” with or who respected you is the cause of these rumors that are attacking your character, your work ethic, or you in general.

I have always been told that people don’t hate you unless they are jealous of you in some way. While this is hard to understand, I do believe it to be true. While finding out that a co-worker, a boss, a friend, or anyone that you know is talking badly about you, especially about certain things very personal to you, is hard, you have to wonder why they are talking about you. Why would that person go out of his/her way to make you look bad? Is it because you are weak, stupid, and perform poorly at work? No, of course not. It is because they are jealous and wish they had something that you have.

Sure, dealing with backstabbing employees, or gossipers, or just the realization that people are not at all as you thought they were is hard, but there are ways to deal with it. Let’s face it, we are all usually too trusting of people we don’t know. The sad truth is, most people cannot be trusted at all. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you protect yourself from those backstabbing, gossiping, ruthless friends, co-workers, or people in general:

Don’t Stoop To Their Level

If you discover that someone is talking badly about you, let them talk. Sure, it may be hard to hear and they may be telling everyone things that are completely false, but let them talk. If you take part in their game and start talking badly about them you will only ignite the fire and encourage them to continue. Remember that being the better person always wins out, and people will eventually come to learn that the gossiping or badmouthing person is just that – a gossip and a bad person.

Keep Your Head Up

No matter how nasty the rumors or attacks, keeping your head held high is the most important thing. Sure, it may be hard to walk into the lunchroom when you know everyone is talking about you, but do it anyways. Not only will this show them that you don’t care, it will make whoever is talking about you mad that they are not getting to you. Eventually things will go back to normal and the gossip will die down. In the mean time, worry about yourself, your job and your family. Forget the nonsense.

Talk To Your Boss

If people at work are talking very badly about you or spreading nasty rumors, talk to your boss and let them know what is going on. Tell them that you want the conversation to remain confidential, but that you are notifying them so they are aware that what people are saying is not true. Your boss likely has your best interests at heart and will be a good person to confide in if you have a bad day. It is important to make sure your boss is aware of anything going on in your life that may make you act differently and more withdrawn at work.

If The Gossiping Or Rumors Continue, Confront The Gossiper

Remember that those who gossip or spread rumors do so because it makes them feel better or somehow advances their agenda. These types of people usually like to appear strong and tough at all times. If you do feel like it is time to confront this person, try to do so in front of a lot of people so that the person becomes uncomfortable and so the other people can see them fumble over their own words. Remember, in the end the truth always comes out. Even if you did something bad to your friend or co-worker, their lies are not justified and eventually people will see that they are all lies.

Move On And Forgive

The most important thing in life is forgiveness. If you hate people you will no doubt end up more hurt and with more problems in the end. While forgiving others for spreading rumors, being nasty to you, or lying about you may be hard, you will find that once you forgive that person a weight will be lifted off of your shoulder. Remember that you are the most important thing in your life (outside of your immediate family) and you have to do what is best for you. What is best for you in these types of situations is to understand that the person you thought you were friends with is not who you thought they were, understand that they are mean, cold-hearted and are lying to other about you, but also understand the need to forgive them so that you can move on with your own life and focus on bigger problems.

Dealing with drama in the workplace or in life is hard, but you can get past it and you can become a better person because of it. If you find yourself dealing with this type of situation try surrounding yourself with people who don’t gossip about others and who bring value to your life.