Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just when I thought things had settled ...

I heard a rumour about myself this week, a nasty, rude rumour that I am having an affair. I think my assistant has started it, and two others have confirmed they heard it from her. It's awfully detailed, this rumour, including descriptions of the man I have been supposedly seeing and what we do during the day when I sneak out of the office to meet him; she has put a lot of time and energy into it, suggesting that she has not got enough to keep her busy during the day.

My initial reaction after being told about it was amusement. I burst out laughing because it's so ridiculous. The more time goes by, though, the more upset I am about it. I was going to let it go; it can't hurt me, after all, because it's not true. But as I think more about it I feel like I need to confront her, and get it out in the open. In addition to talking about me, she's been telling others that Mr. J lost his job due to misconduct, and that's why we had to move. I felt shocked hearing this, completely taken aback by the level of thought she has put into this scenario she has created.

For the first time in my professional life, my feelings are hurt. I have had rumours spread about me before, things that were partially true that someone misunderstood, or people overhearing part of a conversation and filling in the rest and repeating it as fact; I have had employees say mean, spiteful things because they were angry at me or just didn't like me. But I have never experienced someone making up an elaborate, involved rumour that could potentially be so harmful, and for no apparent reason. Especially someone with whom I thought I got along with at work. We're not "friends", but we have never really had a conflict with one another. She's a little asocial, a little cranky, and not a very positive person in general, but I never thought she was mean-spirited. I am disappointed, because it seems so out-of-nowhere; and I feel a little injured because I thought we worked fine together. I am also a little concerned about Bunny; it's not a secret in the office that we are friends. I don't want her to get dragged into something on account of being friends with me.

Have I mentioned I hate working with women? The men I have worked with, and had work under me, never behaved this way. They told me to my face if they had a problem with me; I have had to deal with unhappy male employees who didn't want to take orders from a girl, and I much prefer dealing with that sort of behaviour problem. How do you chase down a rumour? How do you prove that someone is actually responsible for making up and spreading them? People don't admit it when they're guilty of such behaviour; they lie about it and carry on with it.


Fox said...

Honestly, it is probably not that she has too much time on her hands. It is really most likely done out of some form of jealousy. Whether it be your position in your job or just out and out ugly envy. It has been my experience that the first thing a jealous woman will say about another woman is that they are sleeping around because it is the quickest and most effective way to trash another's reputation.

I feel for you and I really don't have much advice. I was in a similar situation way back when I was working and it made the rest of the time I worked at the company much harder than it ever should have been if those things had never been said. Especially when it concerned my ability to be in my position in the first place (people said I slept with my boss to get to the job I had).

I'm so sorry this happened. All I can say is that the woman that started the rumor must really have a sad life to feel the need to say such horrible things about you.

Anonymous said...

How unfortunate that this woman has to be so cruel towards you. My advice would be to confront her and let her know that it doesn't take long for things to get back to you at the office. And everybody that has ever played the telephone game knows that by the time the rumor gets to the end of the line it's a hundred times worse than the original. If she confesses I think you should let her go. There is no guarantee that she's not going to continue this damaging behavior.

You have every right to go to work every day and function in a positive environment. Years ago when I was promoted to manager at the job I had before we met, I had to let several people go who just could not get used to the idea that I was above them in the ranks. I made every effort to try and resolve all issues, but some people just tried to make my life hell out of spite.

I'm sorry you work with such petty people. I wish you could see the office that I work in now. Twelve women who have worked together for seven years - not one incident of bad behavior. It's a creative and nurturing environment and I look forward to being there every day.

Hopefully you can have some peace at your office soon, but you might have to make some more adjustments first.


Jade said...

Fox, you're right. The gossiping isn't literally a product of too much available time, but as a manager my first solution is to assign more work to a person who engages in non-work things at work. Wish me luck. :)

RHG, I've always been envious of your job, and the co-workers you've talked about. I love my job, and mostly love my employees, but it's not nurturing nor creative.

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