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I sort of posted about this a while back, but a male co-worker had gone around bad-mouthing me and my group's efforts. The reality of the situation was that he was swamped in his own personal/school work so neglected our group and his responsibilities. Still, he criticized everything he felt we were doing wrong although he wasn't even helping and fulfilling his own responsibilities. In the end, he received credit for the work we did, but I have been hearing that he has been saying some bad things about me (the leader) here and there.

2 of the members in the group have tendencies to sweep things under the rug and shrug it off, as in "it's over with, I don't want to deal with HIM anymore." They agree that he is being a jerk, but they aren't the type to stand up for their thoughts, or me for that matter. The other person in the group was just pissed at the dynamics, pissed at me to a certain extent for not leading the situation better (i.e.- kicking this guy out in the middle) and also pissed at me not catering to all of her ideas. Sorry, but it is a group effort and I have to take everyone's ideas and input into consideration. I respected her ideas and let her know, but she would get upset and critical when not all of her ideas were used. As a result, she left the project highly critical of me, for different reasons.

So it is just left to me to stand up for myself.

When I posted about this in the summer, I was encouraged to keep my head high and continue doing my work positively when I start my new job. However, this individual has quite a lot of social leverage and has reached further than I thought (and has criticized me a lot to people I know). Most people have told me on here that if I am patient and continue to work hard, people will see that what he has been saying is false. I am not so sure that society works this way though especially when it comes to socially influential people like him. I have been meeting people that have a certain preconception of me based on what he said, and it is making my life difficult.

I've realized that in the past, I've allowed myself to NOT stand up for myself and NOT voice my side of the issue. I tried to live by the saying, "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say it." This is also because I tend to want to hear both sides of a story and a lot of times, I tend to be more suspicious of the person doing the bad-mouthing (and I'm sure y'all can relate to this), but I realize that in the "real world," if you don't speak up about your side of the story when you have the chance, you're the one that gets screwed. Many times, I've let the opportunity slide to "clear up" my side and clean up my reputation, but I feel there is a lot of haziness in relationships because the person has a preconception of me/has heard things but doesn't know me well enough to ask me about it. And I just hate the idea of walking around with people having the wrong idea of me.

I guess I am looking for two things here -- am I right to be feeling this way? and also what are possible steps I can take to move forward? I don't want to "air out my dirty laundry" to people involved (since I don't know exactly how much he said to each person), but at the same time, I don't want to just be quiet and let the status quo stand. :sad: Ideally, I would appreciate if I could talk about this vaguely one on one with people involved: "I've had a work project before that was challenging for me in these ways - a member was unable to fulfill his responsibilities, and it was discouraging to hear after the project that he has been criticizing me." But I cannot for the life of me think of any situations where this would come up (except in my own imagination).

So yes, help me with any advice or input about this situation. I do not consider myself a natural-born leader, so it is kind of difficult for me to navigate this situation, so I appreciate the input of everyone.In the future, I will be sure to reject any positions that place me in this type of stressful leadership position, as I realize that I am not a natural-born leader of people. I am a hard worker, but I don't think I have what it takes to lead people and be "politically" smart. Or maybe this experience will help me, who knows? And also, I am thinking of shooting this person an email along the lines of "I am disappointed to hear from some that you have been critical of our work as a group. I appreciate your opinions, but I believe that they would have been better said in a setting where we could've worked on it constructively to improve, rather than being bashed on." And somewhere I want to include how he was busy and didn't do his own work. This is a straightforward way I think, but I am concerned that this will create DRAMA. This individual is an extraverted feeler and I can already see all the drama that will ensue, but at least it will ensure (?) that he won't talk badly about me anymore.
 

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I can completely sympathise with you. And yes you are right to be feeling this way. I can't stand the idea of people having a preconceived idea of who I am.

You are in a very awkward position. The first thing I will say is do not go to people individually asking them if this person has been saying things behind your back. As their leader they expect you to be able to handle this kind of thing. The chances are everyone is completely aware of what this person is doing.

I like the idea of sending an email or even calling a group meeting. If you choose the email option you could use it to ask for feedback? Perhaps you could create a simple questionnaire that they can complete anonymously on the computer and print it out (so their handwriting isn't legible) and put it into a box which is in another room or something? In the email you could explain that you found this particular project challenging and would like to know if there is anything you could have done as a leader to help the group. Perhaps explain that it has come to your attention that some individuals in the group were not happy with some of the decisions that were made and you would appreciate feedback on your role as a leader.

That way you are not blaming anyone in particular, you are addressing the whole group and this gives everyone the chance to say something.

I hope you are able to come to some sort of decision. Like I said, it is horrible to think that someone is bad mouthing you behind your back.
 

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Well first of all... he is harming you with what he's doing. He's harming you and forcing you to defend your reputation. So are you allowed to defend your reputation? Absolutely. As long as you just sit by quietly, you'll feel bitter about it.

If I were you, I'd fight. :laughing: In fact, I've been in this situation before.

First thing I'd do... If your reputation is bothering you, talk to people that he's convinced to dislike you. be warm, kind, and genuine. Be yourself...

In fact, you could be warm and kind with him as well (as much as you can bear) Us INFJs can empathize with even people we dislike... use this to your advantage. Continue to do this and you can define the conflict. Not as a problem you have, but as a problem he has.

If you define the conflict as his irrational hatred (That is, if you give him no reason or anyone else any reason to dislike him), then any negative thing he says or any negative thing he does to you, will just further prove that he is irrational.

It's a vicious cycle and can essentially force him to play nice. It's a bit manipulative and underhanded.... but he was the one who started down this path. :wink:
 

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Well first of all... he is harming you with what he's doing. He's harming you and forcing you to defend your reputation. So are you allowed to defend your reputation? Absolutely. As long as you just sit by quietly, you'll feel bitter about it.

If I were you, I'd fight. :laughing: In fact, I've been in this situation before.

First thing I'd do... If your reputation is bothering you, talk to people that he's convinced to dislike you. be warm, kind, and genuine. Be yourself...

In fact, you could be warm and kind with him as well (as much as you can bear) Us INFJs can empathize with even people we dislike... use this to your advantage. Continue to do this and you can define the conflict. Not as a problem you have, but as a problem he has.

If you define the conflict as his irrational hatred (That is, if you give him no reason or anyone else any reason to dislike him), then any negative thing he says or any negative thing he does to you, will just further prove that he is irrational.

It's a vicious cycle and can essentially force him to play nice. It's a bit manipulative and underhanded.... but he was the one who started down this path. :wink:
I like it! Show not tell is a good idea. Show them that you are not what this person is making you out to be by being kind them etc. AND by being kind to the person who is criticising you. This shows that you are being mature and proffessional not letting your personal feeling interfere with the job (unlike the person that is bad mouthing you).
 

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Btmangan makes a good point

But I'd also suggest confronting him about it

And if that doesn't work, confront him about it in front of the boss
 
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