Question submitted via email:
I was sabotaged by someone in my office and was reassigned to new duties. Now the department is in turmoil. Management simply wants the situation to “go away” and the staff wants me to “fight it.” I just don’t know which way to turn. I like my job, but the situation has made it almost unbearable to do my job. What do I do?
Answer from Marie Janes, MEd, RHIA, FAHIMA:
I’ll assume it’s safe to agree with you that the situation was sabotage. It appears you weren’t able to take precautions to avoid the situation, so your options are limited. Your best line of defense is keeping your emotional intelligence in check and continuing to communicate with others. With time, the truth will win out, unless the office politics are extremely toxic, and then you may have to resort to tougher measures. For now, take a deep breath, do your work and concentrate on the big picture. Your credibility will be recognized once the damage is discovered.
Follow-up: Sabotage is the worst of all office conflicts, but employees face daily challenges that affect their feelings and productivity. Some helpful ideas are as follows:
- Distance yourself from the drama
- Focus your attention on tasks and responsibilities
- Engage in workplace activities that offer a diversity
- Be kind, not cruel
- Document the circumstances
- Use your day planner or calendar to document any unusual situations
- Guard personal and private reports
trusting, but don’t be naive
- Ascertain whether the coworker was an acquaintance or colleague or unknown
- Determine your relationship, if possible
- Saboteurs want you to take them into your confidence and use your own words against you
- Maintain your standards and work ethics
- Length of time in friendships is not always a gauge of loyalty.
- Along with trying to understand the sabotage is the feeling of loss or death of a previous friendship
- To compound matters, it’s worse when several coworkers conspire to oust a person
- Plan for the future
- Jot down the pros and cons of remaining at the company or with the organization
- Don’t let the saboteur alter your career plans
- List reasons to stay
- List reasons to leave
- Make your own decision (often employment contracts are involved and apply to the situation)
- Acknowledge your emotions and devise coping mechanisms
- Use an employee assistance program (EAP), if available
- Seek counseling to alleviate feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, etc.
- It’s okay to have a good cry—as long as it is a cathartic episode that clears the air and helps you move forward
Remember the saying, "nothing surprises me anymore." Just when you’ve think you have life figured out, someone will throw a curveball your way. Be true to yourself and maintain a healthy respect for others. Backstabbers may change an office dynamic, but it may not work out according to their plans.
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