I have a great job that I love. My problem is a colleague—let’s call him H—who is spreading rumors about me.
When I first started, he was super friendly and I thought we would be friends.
We went out for drinks after work a couple of times and he gossiped about people in the company. He kept encouraging me to accept his friend requests on all kinds of social media. That was easy to decline because I am taking a break from it.
He must have realized I wasn’t going to spill all of the details of my dating life and he kind of dumped me. I recently had lunch with another colleague in our department and she told me that he is telling people all kinds of things about me—such as: I got really drunk at a party and locked myself in the bathroom with his friend, and my boyfriend dumped me and I threw all his clothes out the window—outlandish, crazy, totally made-up stuff.
I want to walk up to him and punch him in the nose. What the heck should I do?
Dear Hopping Mad,
Well, don’t do that! I understand the urge, but don’t punch him. What he is doing is a form of bullying that is mostly deployed and perfected in middle school, as many of us shudder to remember.
The good news is that in the world of adults, everybody sees H for what he is and no one believes a word he says. If he is doing it to you, he is doing it to others. Aren’t you glad you never got on social media with him and never revealed anything that might make you vulnerable?
You could tell your boss but (1) they probably already know and (2) they may or may not be committed to a culture that specifically states gossip/spreading rumors is not acceptable.
You might consider reporting it as harassment or hostile work environment to HR. But ultimately, if he doesn’t have power over you and it doesn’t interfere with your doing your job, I would say laugh it off and ignore him.
And stay as far away from him possible. His nastiness will catch up with him eventually.
About the author
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
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