Stupid work related problem

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I've been out of the work force for awhile and find myself running into problems from time to time. I did substiute teach and freelance write here and there, but there things don't require much adult interaction and it is a different world. So far, it is has been "interesting" re-learning my way around, but at times a little embarassing.

    There is this older person where I work, who is friendly and polite, but noticeably insecure. She is always asking for extra work and it is unclear as to whether or not the office wants to give it to her. I know when I get extra work, I am happy to get it and when I have the time...I do it. She seems to over think the whole thing, gets jealous, talks alot about these things and "stirs the pot" a bit.

    I have been friendly with her and she has been calling me and "venting." I have been listening and at times I tell her that I understand what she is saying but ask her to look at things from another point of view.

    The last few weeks, she seems to be getting mixed messages from a few co-workers and her supervisor. One minute they are fine with her and the next minute, they are VERY quiet.

    Today, in a meeting she totally threw me "under the bus," and revealed personal information that she found out about me. I had asked her to keep it confidential and she openly mentioned it. Part of me wants to think it is because she is "older," and part of me wants to think it is done purposefully. Later, when I saw her after the meeting, she said something very negative to me out of no where that was totally off the wall (although she stopped herself midsentence). Remind you...I have been very kind to her rides, listening to her, etc...even when others are pracitically ignoring her.

    We have other meetings to attend, and she is fearful about driving to them alone. I have encouraged her to do it by herself, but said that I would take her whenever she gets scared. Last meeting...I noticed heads turned when I walked in with her and NOT in a good way.

    To tell you the I'm SCARED. My guess, is that she is in the process as I type (LOL!) of throwing me under the bus in every way possible. I am talking about negative gossip.This person just loves to talk and since she is so insecure, subconsiously (or otherwise) it is in her benefit to mention neg. things about others.

    **** How can I clean the slate a bit or remove myself a bit from this person? Also, how can I take back my invitation to drive her to the meetings? And ya know what...if I don't do this carefully...this too will be the subject for gossip.

    I feel badly for doing this, but I finally got a clear picture of what's going on today and I didn't like what I saw.

    Thank you.
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    You could be direct and tell her that you are upset that she revealed your confidence and that you are no longer sharing rides with her, etc. Or you could just tell her you're not available and hope that she eventually gets the message.
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Call me paranoid...but my supervisor did not return my last phone call and she (in particular) does NOT seem to like this person. HELP! Any specifics on how I might handle this situation or should I just let it go 'cause trying to correct it only makes me as bad as her.
  4. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    Well, if it were me and I was that scared, I would go straight into my supervisor and ask if she had a few minutes, and then talk to her. No blaming or pointing fingers, just talk about your concerns. But that's me - at work I tend to face things bluntly and head-on.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I like wynters and Linda's suggestions. You didn't know the politics when you started, were just being nice. now you know them, and the reason for them. Distance yourself from this woman and keep personal info/business separate from your coworkers.

    Sorry, sweetie, this is a tough lesson to learn.

  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    That you everyone for the great ideas.
    Good news...the supervisor just called....I subtley let her know the problem and she subtley responded. It was like a two sentence conversation. We quickly moved on to something else. In the meantime, yep, I'm going to distance myself as nicely as possible...telling her I'm not available or that I have to go to the meeting from another place, etc. Wow...what a weird predicament...but the lesson has been learned. :whiteflag:
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think it is purposely. Or habit. Whatever it is, I doubt it's her being older. I think of it this way...

    A woman allows her husband to bully her and the kids and control everything that they do, right down to how they drink a glass of water.

    If this woman is 35, the natural reaction is to tell her to straighten and put herself and her kids first. If that means she has to leave, then she has to leave.

    If that woman is 75, the natural reaction can be to say, "well, she comes from a different time."

    The fact is, we all know women who are 35 years old and would never tolerate it. We also know women who are 75 years old and would never tolerate it. It's the woman, not the age.

    A man sees you struggling with too many things in your arms at the store when you are trying to get to the cashier. He pushes past you and says "Maybe you should think it out better next time."

    If he's 35 years old, we think he's a first class jerk. If he's 75 years old, we might think he's a bitter old man who must have suffered some wrong. The fact is, there are young men who are polite and would have helped, and there are old men who have suffered many wrongs and still would have helped. It's the man.

    I could make other examples, but I think it's easy to see. It's this woman.

    Flee! Flee! Run away! As fast as you can! Dont give her any more rides, be too busy to take her calls. She has you in her sites, and you need to feel better about your job and yourself than she will allow you to feel.

    I don't think you can I clean the slate a bit or remove myself a bit from this person. I think you have to make a clean break. The other employees and your supervisor probably know what she is all about. I'd go to HR or the boss or whatever it is and lay it out beforehand. "Mrs. Snottypants is more of a project than I am ready to take on, and I need you to understand that she told me she was frightened to drive to meetings. I would like to stop driving her because she is negative, and seems to be acting out against me. Will that effect my position in the company? Will you back me up if she becomes upset?"

    It's rotten to be in the position you are in. I hope that things will change for the better soon!
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Just wanted you to know been there done that. Seriously a cruddy situation.

    I am slowing extracting myself from many "negative dramas" at the work place. It can only do one thing, come back on us. No matter how empathic we want to be, it only draws us in, and causes us to be part of the problem.

    UGH. I always feel I have the best of intentions..........but yet, sometimes, silence is the best solution.

  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you Steely and Witzend.
    Witzend...I do like your analogies and think are excellent!
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They are right.

    I've been there done that myself. A woman I met at our writing group has been like this with me. I would talk to her when she rang, often using the time to try to encourage her to reach out a bit more, to see other points of view, to ask questions instead of falling for all the stuff people tell her, etc.

    I noticed that a lot of the time she would tell me the same problems, over and over. A lot of these problems would be form her past which she had never dealt with. I did comment to her that she needed to deal with these issues so she could move on, but it never made any difference. I would yet again hear the stories about how her sisters had encouraged other kids to bully her at boarding school. How her mother wanted money from her all the time, and so on. This woman was like her mother - always obsessed with money. And fame.

    I finally realised that my friend was unstable. She had told me, in confidence, of her diagnosis. I had told her about Asperger's, thinking it was a possibility with her. Then she managed to talk a psychiatrist into giving her an Aspie diagnosis which from what I know now, I don't think fits. The label makes no practical difference except that it validates her continuing to be as she is and not trying to do something for herself. "Im Aspie, that's why I'm like this," she will say. Well my kids are Aspie and autistic, and while I understand their limitations I'm going t help them do the best they can and not just sit around making excuses.

    The things to watch out for - the soft voice, the tentative approach, the "I need help" when she probably doesn't and won't take on board any advice you give her anyway (even if she nods and smiles at the time, her brain is on holiday).

    Underneath it all, it sounds like this woman is jealous. She is ambitious but hasn't got a clue how to actually do the job in such a way as to advance herself. Her best way is to undermine everyone else. Be aware that everything you have said to her is now likely to be spread around, especially if you go cool on her. And you have to go cool and back away, she is just too damaging.

    Stop trying to help people who not only don't want to be helped, they resent any attempt to help them as an attempt to show them up and see you as patronising. Even if she approaches and asks (or hints) that she needs help, chances are she resents it when you do. What she is hoping to find - that you are feeling as helpless as she is, because this will reassure her that you are no threat.

    The woman in my writing group - she would ring sometimes every night. I could check the clock and realise she was ringing out of boredom because a TV program she had been watching had just finished. She would have no qualms about calling me during my favourite TV show, and WOULDN'T get off the phone; but if I called during HER favourite show...

    My 'friend' split with me very suddenly. She had been sending us a lot of emails over the years, mostly funny. Occasionally she would send glurge. And occasionally she would send stuff that was either religious tub-thumping or extreme right-wing propaganda. Some people would respond with hostility and she would get upset about it over the phone at me.
    Knowing this, I would reply more gently. She sent me an email about what a good thing it is that we invaded Iraq. It was lifted from a US military site, listing all the good things happening in Iraq (such as new schools, etc) post-invasion. I knew it would set off some heavy reactions from a lot of our friends, so I replied with moderation.
    "Yes, it's good that some good things are happening, but it is also important to keep a balanced perspective."
    I got a vicious email back form her, telling me to keep my left-wing propaganda to myself. ***? I replied gently again, asking why she was upset with my BALANCED response.
    She replied saying she had sent the email as FYI, which therefore did not need a reply.
    Again - ***?
    She had said a lot more that was totally vicious and over-the-top. So I stopped replying, and also stopped answering the phone. husband was ready with his response to her if she did ring - "Marg doesn't want to talk to you; you hurt her feelings with your last emails."
    At about this time, I saw her at our writers meeting - and she was friendly, chatty, commented on the nice shirt I was wearing - Twilight Zone theme started playing in my head.

    Meanwhile she was attacking the committee of the writing group because they were making decisions she didn't agree with. She was more and more unbalanced. We had new members turn up - and her antics at the meetings were driving them away.

    Finally the new committee made a decision at a meeting which she REALLY disliked and I got a phone call from her. I had long stopped worrying about whether she would ring - she hadn't, for months. And all she wanted from me, was information (and support) to hang the new committee out to dry.
    I didn't give it to her.

    She took her complaints up as high as she could, even trying legal avenues to sue people. It was a worry.

    I saw her last meeting. She seemed happy, stable, chatty. No ill-will to anyone. And absolutely no indication that she had ever done or said anything out of line.

    But I will never trust her again, and apart from polite small talk I will never talk to her again. I will certainly never do anything to help her again.

    So if you have totally spilled your entrails in talking to her about stuff she could now have fun with, then consider it broadcast. Think about all you have said to her, and begin NOW to plan your response. If she tells everyone that you believe in land rights for gay pregnant whales (the universal protest poster in Australia in the 70s) then be ready for it. Time to do some running repairs.

    Being honest about what she says could still be the best option, as long as it's not too damaging. People like this can be like terriers if you deny stuff when you told her different. So if she announces that you (for example) smoked pot in your younger days, then instead of saying, "But I didn't inhale," instead say, "I saw the error of my ways and now campaign against pot-smoking."

    Played right, you could come out of this smelling like roses, and any attempt by her to make you look bad can backfire, if you prepare ahead.

    And for future reference - keep confidences away from the workplace.

  11. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I would definitely make yourself as unavailable as possible and if she wonders why and asks you...I would tell her point blank that you are very hurt that she would destroy your confidence in her. If she calls you, tell her you are really busy and can't talk. About the rides...simply tell her that she will have to put her big girl pants on and drive herself or find another way. It's a dog-eat-dog world and she just chewed you up and spit you out and is still asking for a ride? She is bad news and the company knows it. If she continues to gossip, I think most of them realize that's the way she is and will likely blow most of it off. But, for further reference....I wouldn't tell anyone anything that you wouldn't want the rest of the office to know.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Loth..."She is bad news and the company knows it. If she continues to gossip, I think most of them realize that's the way she is and will likely blow most of it off."
    This rings true to me. I saw the signs that they were aware of her issues...but I was "slow" processing it. I am hoping that they will blow off most of what she has to say, but can't count on it. I didn't reveal anything personal...but it was info. she could use against me and she did.

    Marg...I already assumed, and I know rightly so, that she spilled the beans to my boss based on something my boss said to me. I didn't skip a beat while talking with her, but employed the tactic you said...and she seemed very pleased.

    Ironically, things were going MUCH better for me until I tried to become friendly with this woman. AND this woman is MORE of a go-getter than I am...but I am going to school and my time is limited. I think they have come to accept that my time is limited though, but would prefer that I put in more time with the company.

    It has been a REAL learning experience...I do feel a bit :redface: but am happy to get the lesson with-o much damage. ;):D and do appreciate all the words of wisdom from my friends here. ;):D
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911


    You would think people like that only exist in movies, but they sadly are everywhere and manipulative martyrs like the one you encountered are very good at eeking out personal information in such a way that you would NEVER EVER feel they would betray your trust. It's an art to be sure.

    My xmil was the best I've ever met at it. It made me angry and made me feel stupid that she "Did it again!". By that I mean when I would confide things in her that I would normally not - then she would blab or rather "save" those bits of information for ammunition when there was a family disagreement or a NON-DRAMA time to make herself seem interesting. Makes you want to scream : GET A LIFE - YOUR OWN. But people like this sadly ever do. They live vicariously on stress, drama, and revenge.

    Two things I learned from (Xmil) her vile self. 1.) Don't EVER tell anyone anything you don't want the world to know because even if you say "Please don't ever tell this to anyone." Eventually some will forget that you divulged that information in confidence. Then your information is public and the best you can get out of someone is "OH I am so sorry I forgot." andy your secrets are out.

    2.) There are people out there that are experts at getting/gathering information -they've been doing it so long you dont' even know or are aware you are being inventoried for their own use. Keep your office conversations general, and know that no one in a workplace situation REALLY wants to know anything about YOU - they may tell you a bunch about themselves - great...listen.

    As far as giving her rides? I like what Loth said. I'm quite a bit more cynical and if you lie to be or betray me I'm done. Trust is HUGE with me. I'm honest - I expect it in return. When she betrayed your trust - she became an person who is not honest, and she's manipulative. Maybe this is why you got the looks at the office meeting when you drove her?

    And that brings me to another point - The other people in your office. They apparently KNEW she is like she is. Something to think about if you were to look for another alli. Again - modern day office politics. They knew she was like she was and yet no one even dropped a hint. Gotta think THANKS for that. But at least that lets you know the type of people you are working with - the NOT CARING ABOUT ANYONE but self - group. It wouldn't have been gossip to step near you and say "I know you haven't been here long but be careful what you say to X."

    As far as distancing yourself from her? If the subject comes up - IF she were to come to you and ask you for a ride? I would say -

    "After you broke my trust by telling the entire office things I told you in confidence? I feel no loyalties towards you, and that includes rides. From here on out this relationship (point to you and self) will be kept strictly professional. Then? Walk away.

    You arent being mean - you aren't telling her what she is - you are stating facts, keeping emotions out of it and letting her know where you stand.

    Hope this goes well. It's sad that her life is like it is - she must be miserable. A lot of people make themselves that way. Nothing you can do about it. You dont' have to be mean to her - but you no longer have to show her loyalty.

    Trust is huge with me - once you blow that? I won't be mean but I am done. And for me? I won't tell you as nice as I told you to tell the woman you work with. :tongue:
  14. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Trust is huge with me - once you blow that? I won't be mean but I am done. And for me? I won't tell you as nice as I told you to tell the woman you work with. :tongue:

    That's it in a nutshell.

  15. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am sure the rest of the people are feeling bad for you for having aligned yourself with her. I am willing to bet they have an office pool on how long you stay friends with her. I am guessing they all have gone through the same thing and found out the hard way, too.

    Lesson learned.
  16. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Wow...I think I hit a nerve!
    I do understand has rattled me a bit.
    I think what has rattled me a little more is that I didn't protect myself....but I'm chaulking it up to a little inexperience. Yep, I too think others have "gone through the same thing" and figured this thing out. But I do wonder if they caught on a little faster or saw that others were being careful and asked around. I was not careful. UGH.
    In the old days, I would beat myself up for a few days over this. One of the nice things about being of a "certain age" is that you learn to just "learn" from your mistakes and move forward. So...that's what I'm doing here and it was helpful to get additonal insight from everyone. (Thanks).
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Nomad -

    The best thing about a bad situation like this? You WILL know if it happens again and you won't have to feel like I did all those years ago. Every now and then I think we all want to be able to be more tolerant of others and their shortcomings. But when someone throws you under the bus? It's good to have friends who understand, and stand next to you saying "Coulda been worse." ;)
  18. ML

    ML Guest

    I'm glad you had the moments of understanding with the supervisor. Everyone has given great advice. Distance yourself politely but firmly. I'm sorry your kindness was met with ugliness. Welcome back to the business world. I hope you can go back to "retirement" soon and I want to come with you. hugs xo
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A thought about everyone else not warning you - if you were in close with this other person (or your workmates considered it possible, or likely) then they would have been reluctant to warn you because it could have gone right back to this woman who then could have "remembered" something unpleasant about the person who warned you.

    Now watch. They may come forward and welcome you, once they realise you've made your choice.

    My sister found herself increasingly friendless, in the last months/years of her first marriage. Fewer invitations to go out to dinner with friends; fewer parties; fewer social engagements of ANY kind. And when she did - her husband would embarrass her publicly. She would introduce him to someone and he would say loudly, "Oh, so YOUR'E Janette. You're not fat and ugly at all, you're nothing like she said you were."
    My sister complained to me also about friends who had "made up lies" or "carried tales" about her husband's philanderings. She cut those people out of her life. (and wondered later why people didn't tell her what everybody knew?)

    When she finally caught him in the act and threw him out, her friends came out of the woodwork. A lot of them who had been lying low, came out to tell her how happy they were for her. It totally caught her by surprise.

    There are differences between a social situation and work situations, but sit back and take notes. This could get interesting.