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Originally posted by clementine123 at hmm
My department has recently begun working with another department in a joint venture and I have noticed that there is an odd dynamic going on with the other department.  There are several people in the department who are not often here - A is taking well deserved time off with vacation days, B is having health issues, and C just hides in his/her office (it seems).  The fourth, D,  is a very hard worker whom the others seem to not enjoy working with.  Whenever we need something explained or need any kind of help whatsoever - no matter what or when, D is always there assisting us and generally being a superstar and covers for the others who cannot be there without complaining or whining.  My problem is listening to other people inside and outside of the department bad mouth D who has NEVER said anything bad about anyone else.  I do not know how D got the red headed step child card but when other people in the library to talk to me about D, I just say how nice it has been working with D.

So the question is, does anyone have a quick response to say to others when they want to trash D?  I just do not want to hear it.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
"That's not been my experience working with D."
Jun. 24th, 2014 03:00 pm (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC)
Jun. 23rd, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
What you're already saying (variations on "it's nice working with D") is probably already the best approach. It's harder to slam a third party if you know the other person there likes them.

But if they persist in trying to badmouth D to you, you could try calling them out on it directly. "I don't feel it's professional to talk about my coworkers behind their backs in a negative way." or "I notice a lot of people talk badly about D, but I want no part of that." Or more simply "I'm not comfortable with this kind of talk about a coworker."

Now, there could be totally legit issues with D that aren't obvious right away (I have a coworker who is horrifically incompetent and manipulative, but she *seems* competent and friendly at first) that the others who have more experience with her are aware of, but until/unless you see that in evidence for yourself, best to stay out of whatever is going on with the weird them vs. her dynamic as much as you can (and even if it does become obvious why they all hate her, it's still better to stay out of the fray if at all possible, if only from a professional standpoint).
Jun. 23rd, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
Weird. So it's not just A, B, and C badmouthing her, but others as well?

What are the complaints exactly - Are they harping on a perceived lack of the very attributes you've found that she has in abundance? Or are the complaints about peripheral stuff like personality issues, etc.?

Jun. 24th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
The complaints seem to be about appearance and personality. I have had run in's with D in the past on a personal level away from work years and years ago but D got help. The thing is that no one is recognizing that there is such improvement that it is time to re-evaluate. There are other people in the library who have had professional help and and have benefited from it. JMO, D has as well - although I am not 100% certain that help was sought but a change is very notable.
Jun. 24th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
And at first, I was about to cry when I heard that I was going to work with D because of the run ins that had happened around 20 years or so ago but D has changed and it is a joy to work with D. I am still baffled as to why people are treating D badly with gossip when the very people D works with can see day after day examples of how D is an asset. JMO - the story line on the gossip should have changed by now.
Jun. 24th, 2014 12:15 am (UTC)
And lastly - I think this just reinforces the old saying that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
Jun. 25th, 2014 08:15 pm (UTC)
Definitely. It may also have something to do with who you see every day, and who you see only occasionally. If D started out being kind of a terror in one way or another, and people formed that impression, then if those people continued working with her regularly they might not ever realize there was a change, because they would just continue treating her like a terror reactively, so she'd keep acting like it. But then down the line, to people who have never met her before or who haven't seen her in years, she could be a whole new person.

I was the redheaded stepchild in grade school. I was awkward and didn't have the same sense of humor as the other kids. The kids called me "psycho" and teased me for being crazy, or being a witch, or being an alien, which resulted in me never being comfortable around other people and acting strangely because I knew people were always watching and judging. I changed schools in 10th grade and it was the best damn thing that ever happened to me. No one there knew that I was the "crazy psycho girl," so I got to be normal for a change. Fit in just fine.
Jun. 23rd, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
It's good you don't want to participate in this sort of office politics. However I would tread cautiously as I used to work with a woman who was lovely at first, but after a few months her true side came out. It was like a complete personality transplant - and all her bile was directed at me, as I had volunteered to move to her specialist area, where I would be working with her and one other person, who left 2 weeks after I started there. All day every day in the same office as her. I only realised what she was doing to me when I was seeing a counsellor during my divorce, who helped me understand that it was workplace bullying (the divorce was quite painless by comparison!) I also felt quite let down that no-one else working there let me know what she was like before, though they came and sympathised after she had moved on.

My longwinded point is, can all those other people be wrong?
Jun. 24th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
If they won't stop badmouthing D, just deliberately tell them about positive interactions you've had with D.
(Yeah, we had something like this in our library, though I've never worked out what the actual issue they had with the person was. So I just talked up that person's accomplishments.)
Jun. 25th, 2014 11:52 am (UTC)
I have been D. I'm overweight, which several people in my library equated to "stupid". (I'm not, thank you very much. Mensa member here.) I'm also a very cheerful person. I've had some extraordinarily hard knocks in my life and I learned before the age of 20 that I could either mope around being a miserable bitch, or smile at the world and hope it smiled back. This REALLY got on the nerves of the resident grumpy bitches in the library, including the two supervisors in my department.

I recently quit my library job because I had another opportunity, and since then I have heard every horrible thing my two supervisors had been spreading around the library. From personal stuff like my husband was gay (why else would he marry a fat girl), to professional stuff like I never did any work (I had 14 separate projects and two collections that I was responsible for when I left). Fortunately when I had the opportunity to work with people directly, they were able to see that I was not the horrible person they'd been told about, and these were the people who approached me after I quit. I had offers of references from two assistant deans and three different department heads, so yeah I was a kickass employee. I just had personality conflicts with my bosses.

Anyway. Speaking from D's perspective, what I would have appreciated was someone who said simply, "D has been wonderful to work with," or, if someone is being nasty, "That's not been my experience." Also, if it gets too bitchy, just smile and change the subject.

Of course, this is advice coming from the cheerful red-headed stepchild, so you might end up one yourself if you take it. :) Fair warning.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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