Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tattle Tales

You’ll have to forgive my lack of personal posts lately. You see, work has been ridiculously stressful for the past couple of months. After running around like a mad woman all day, the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit down and write about work. I’d rather not relive the last 10 hours of madness, thankyouverymuch. My coworker once told me that summer is the craziest time of the year. She wasn’t kidding.

On top of all the craziness, we had our quarterly reviews last week. It was a time in which we got to “informally” sit down with our boss and have an open conversation about strengths, opportunities for growth (AKA weaknesses), etc. I spent a good chunk of time preparing for it so I could be on my toes in front of my boss, and I came to the meeting with a clear picture of what I felt my strengths were and what I could definitely work on.

So imagine my surprise when my boss chimed in about my weaknesses, not only agreeing with the ones I had, but adding to them and citing specific examples I didn’t even know she knew about. As in, things I had talked to my coworkers about. And small little hiccups I has encountered during my first 6 months on the job. And things that were overheard one afternoon. And a reaction I had in a meeting two months ago. And a flustered tone of voice I used once. I mean, really?!

I’ll be honest, I was a bit hurt because I could pinpoint exactly who said what. It was like they told on me. Who does that?! One example was when I vented a small frustration to my closest coworker. It blew over 10 seconds later, but somehow my boss knew about it and questioned me on it. Really?!

As the list of seemingly insignificant incidences continued to grow, I became more and more discouraged. I thought I was getting along great with my coworkers, but now it seems like they take everything I say and do and tattle on me. I understand that my boss might ask them how they think I’m doing, but it seems a bit excessive to be that detailed. Maybe I’m the crazy one here, but when I get time to sit down with my boss, I would never think to talk about my coworkers, especially in a negative sense. No way. One-on-one time is precious, so I use it to talk about my work, my goals, upcoming projects, etc. Silly me.

I understand that it was a review and was meant to provide me with opportunities to improve my performance. I get that. But honestly, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Now I feel like I have to watch everything I say and do with everyone I work with. I feel like I can’t vent or swap war stories anymore because I’m sure they’ll just turn around and tell on me. I have a complete lack of trust in my coworkers now, and it’s making me feel tense every time I’m with them. It’s like walking on eggshells all day long.

So, Working Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this situation? Should I talk to my coworkers about it? Or should I just try to keep my distance from now on?

16 comments:

Pretty Unfamous said...

I think if you were letting your coworkers know your personal FEELINGS, then they shouldn't have told your boss. We can't help the way we feel--that's how we ARE. But, if they were telling your boss things they think you could work on to improve your job performance, then of course I think it's fine they told her. But feelings about your job versus how you do your job are two different things, and I think you should speak to your coworkers if you think they crossed that line.

Ad Working Girl said...

Excellent point! I can see how a few of the things were performance-related, but some of them were just about my feelings, and that's what made me kind of mad. When they vent to me I would never think of repeating what they say. Thanks for the great comment!

eemusings said...

Woah. Back away.

Pretty Unfamous makes a great point. There's a line (a fine one), but personally, there are a couple of loose cannons on our team, and everyone knows it - but although we complain about them to each other, we don't go telling the bosses - they'll figure it out themselves. Performance issues are usually hard to hide for long.

I very much feel that my conversations with managers should be about us and stay between us, UNLESS the situation is so dire that it really is bringing the entire department down.

angeline said...

Yikes! I would definitely watch my back and who I talk to after an incident like that. I echo Pretty Unfamous...feelings are one thing, but don't necessarily affect your work. But as unfair as it sounds, sometimes having a bad attitude about something (even if it is fleeting) can affect how your coworkers perceive you, and could affect the work environment even if it isn't your work specifically. Not saying that is the case here. Sounds like you took it in stride...good for you!

thatredhead said...

Sounds like what I am going through. One day after reading a mean email a customer had sent to me I guess I had a look of frustration on my face and my boss assumed it was at her since I she was standing there (even though I didnt see her) and went to tell on me. Either that or wait to hold that over my head when trying to convince me Im unhappy. That happens too.

Such pettiness.

Amy said...

At my last job, during my last review, there were two specific incidents brought up that were supposed to be reflective of things I could work on. Both of them were totally isolated, one-time occurrences (probably similar to the "tone of voice" comment you got!) but they were blown up as if they were huge areas for growth. I think they were listed on my written review as like "Judgement" and "Consultancy" or something ridiculous. I think in reviews, sometimes supervisors feel like they are obligated to give you something to work on, so they'll blow up whatever they can.

Sounds like there's definitely a rat on your team. I would absolutely be careful about telling anyone you work with anything that could possibly be thrown back at you at your next review!

Ms. Attitude said...

I have definitely been in this situation before (more than once) and because of it, I don't trust anyone I work with.

Megan said...

I definitely feel for you, but I also agree a bit with Angeline. I work in an environment where my co-workers love to complain constantly about their jobs and the people they work with. Even though I would never tattle on them, it definitely affects the way they, and I, do and think about my work. If my boss ever asked me about their performance, I might take some of their comments in consideration in my answer. I doubt you complain even close to as much as they do, but it might be one part of it.

Even still, I think one thing you can definitely come out of your review with as a "need to work on" is not venting to your co-workers. It sucks to be in an environment where you can't let your guard down, but maybe there is a friend who you could g-chat or text with that doesn't work with you when you need to get something off your chest!

Dawn said...

I follow the same lines at Ms. Attitude. I have been burned a few times by "friendly" coworkers. Now I usually keep my feelings to myself and just shrug a lot off. I also work with two people who are first to run to the boss or gossip about others when something goes wrong. I look at them and it makes me realize I don't want to be that way nor do I want to be in their sites. I always try and be better than that at work. When something does frustrate me, I write about it when I get home. I know that no one will ever read it but it helps to get it out.

Tara said...

I've worked in the office environment for 12 years now and I can say that in my experience, women supervisors and bosses are the absolute worst! The petty, catty, drama of it all frustrates me to no end.

The woman I work for now has got to be the worst of them all. In a review she compared me to my sister who had previously worked for the company and said "we thought you'd be more like her". Wow, seriously?!? That was low!

And the worst part of all is that when someone runs to her to "tattle", she approaches you as if it's fact and has harsh things to say. Never does she first ask, or do a little digging to check her source, so she ends up looking like a fool when she tells me that she knows I left some work on my desk one night that should have gone out that day when in all reality that never happened. Sad part is, she'll fight you that it's true...even when you know it's not. You can't win.

It's bad. I am very unhappy with who I work for, but in this economy it's all I can get right now.

So all this office drama is unfotunately completely normal to me. But that doesn't mean I don't hate every minute of it.

J-Diggety said...

Omg, this is hard. I've been here before, and its a horrible feeling!! Its difficult for me because I'm such an open book and openly trust people, so when that trust is betrayed, I take it very hard. Maybe take some time to pull within yourself and cool down first before deciding on confronting people or not. That way you don't risk a heated confrontation. Keep in mind, too, that if they tattled before, they might share this convo with the boss, too. Ask yourself if you want to take that risk? If you're willing, then if you approach the convo cool-headed and well thought-out, you know you did your best to keep it professional and have nothing to hide.
Good luck!
J :)

Rebekkah Rose said...

It's easy to get caught up in the belief that you and your co-workers are on the same side of things and that you're "friends". But as this experience has taught you, you cannot really ever let your guard down in your workplace. Especially since these co-workers don't appear to have your best intentions at heart. I advise you to manage your emotions in the workplace and vent to friends outside of the office when things go awry. The less your co-workers know, the more likely you'll be able to use the limited one-on-one time with your boss for more constructive purposes and not feeling defensive or hurt.

(And yes, I have indeed been in your situation. It's sad that we spend so many hours of our lives working and we can't trust that our co-workers will have our backs. Then again, they aren't suppose to be your support system. That what your family & friends are for.)

Been There said...

I emphathize with your situation. I too had the same happen to me to the point of where it would drive me mad. My co-workers would vent and talk about all kinds of negative things. I would stay positive but then when I had something to say about something that was bothering me or even any amount fo input about what they were saying, it was reported. You might be getting set up. ??

My advice is given in retrospect. I no longer work with these people and after four years I ended up getting layed off because I had a car accident. It sounds like you work with some gossipers. If you like your job, practice the art of listening. If you feel frustrated or need to vent either take it directly to your boss or Human Resources rep. Always open with "I feel". If you receive a negative response from that my advice would be to journal, call a friend, stay focused on your work, and take a walk. Use the negative or frustrated energy and direct it to perform at a higher level.

Lastly, consider whether the company is a good fit for you. You should not have to walk on eggshells. Consider before investing years of time. You may have been a good fit for them but they may not be a good fit for you. We spend way too many hours at work to be uncomfortable all day. It will only create more stress and eventually eat you up.

I understand this is hard advice in an unkind job market but you may have to keep your eyes open for another job while maintaining quiet, friendly relations with your current employer.

Anonymous said...

You naive woman. You need to realize that this is exactly how women operate. It's part of what makes them the most disgusting creatures on the planet: zero honor coupled with cattiness, low intelligence and maturity levels. In fact, I guarantee that you do the same things unconsciously without even realizing them.

When speaking with a woman, nothing you ever say is private. Anything you say can and WILL be used against you. Women seemingly exist only to gossip, create drama, and create problems for other people, especially men.

Everytime you speak with a woman, you're actually holding a conversation with her entire social network, because that's who's going to be hearing about what you said after you leave.

Such a low, catty creature is woman!

There's no need to "walk on eggshells" around your coworkers. Simply learn to keep your mouth shut and speak only about the work at hand. Don't use them as low-rent therapists. Don't express your feelings at every opportunity. I know this might seem incredibly difficult for a child trapped in an adult's body i.e. a woman, so get a man to teach you how it's done. Don't leave your problems at the office, bring them home.

This post was not meant to be sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek.

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Unknown said...

Hey dipshit. What kind of "anonymous" creature trolls around the Web in a desperate and pitiful search for women, I order to berate women, and push more malicious gossip? Isn't that the epitome of what you are literally doing right now? Lol. I am a female mechanic working in the largest factory in the world with an 80 percent man, vs 20 percent women. Men, are WORSE THAN women when it comes to catty, petty gossip. Not only are they petty, and backstabbing, but they deliberately go on the HUNT for women to blame, whine, and cry about as exhibited right here.