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Discussion Starter #1
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. Also, this person is not an ISTJ, but I respect your inputs. :blushed:
 

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MOTM May 2011
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Telling the facts about a situation is ok, if the circumstances of normal conversation bring it up. To manipulate a conversation so that you get the opportunity to tell your side and clear the air is drama, as is telling about how you feel about the situation. Reading into someone's body language or comments, and then leaping to conclusions (oh he must've told them about everything--look how they are acting toward me) also qualifies as drama.

Ignore the situation as much as possible. Keep your nose to the grindstone and do exemplary work. If someone brings up the situation and states something that is factually untrue, or asks you a pointed question about the situation, then answer it factually and truthfully. It will work out. Not today, nor tomorrow, but eventually.

It takes time. Lots of time.

In the future make decisions about people like you would about things. If you are sweeping the floor and the broom handle breaks, you assess the situation, looking at what resources you have available and make a decision to:

Do nothing. Use the broken broom as it is.

Repair the handle.

Replace the handle.

Replace the broom.

Do the same thing with people. Sometimes they are broke and you have to decide how to handle it.

Now, as far as refusing future leadership positions...what do you mean that you would turn them down?!? Are you nuts?!? (in the kindest way possible.:wink:) You expected to waltz into a position of leadership, do your stint, make all of the right decisions and come up smelling like roses?!? Leadership positions pay more because they require more. You have just learned so much about what to do and what not to do in a leadership position, and you are going to walk away wringing your hands saying "woe is me?!?" Education like you have just received is better than any education in any academic setting. We can sit in class and discuss how to manage people and how to resolve conflicts all day long, but when you get to actually do it in the work place...now you're learning.

So quit that down in the mouth eeyore nonsense and realize that this is education that you've bought and paid for--so put it to use.:happy:
 

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Niss is probably right on all the points, and probably a better leader than I to give advice.

its too bad that the story never got set straight when it came to pass. Justice is a big deal, and nothing was taught from his wrong doings. I would try setting your teacher straight on what occurred and tell of your current situation to try to get sympathy and resolve issues to a better extent that come up on the future. A teacher can wield quite the sword, as students must speak out and argue correctly.

Just my thoughts though. I hate leadership positions.
 

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Just my thoughts though. I hate leadership positions.
Which is something you must overcome. Even from our limited contact, in you I see a natural leader.:proud:
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice guys. So this is actually at my "old" job, which I've left for many reasons. I left peacefully with others involved (in that I have good relations with others and leaving was inevitable to pursue better opportunities for everyone actually). But it's an issue for me because in terms of the social network, everyone knows each other and sometimes my current workplace and old workplace collaborate on things.

Also, it is a given-fact that he had been saying things about our group and specifically me. I may not have the social leverage, but basically what happened was that he had said some things about me to other people in that place (not involved with the project). Months later, I developed a friendship with these people (through socials that my place had and mutual hobbies) and after a particularly stressful meeting, I was just venting and stressing out over dinner. They had told me, "Actually... I wasn't going to tell you, but I think you should know. He's been commenting about this all over and saying some things about you before, but i never believed them because I saw that you were working hard and I didn't see you doing any of the things he said." There have been times at bigger meetings, when he'd start criticizing our group and our group's leadership (me....) to other groups, talking about how we would never be able to do this project and finish it. :sad:

And thanks for the broom analogy. I believe that this individual was a broken broom and I made the poor mistake of deciding to use the broom as it was and also decided to start taking on the functions of the broom. We were actually both appointed as co-managers of the project, although he clearly didn't do his part. The ironic part is that he applied for this position but told the boss up-front that he wasn't sure if he could handle it on his own. The boss contacted me and said he believed I was more than capable of this leadership position and asked me to co-manage. Problems arose when he never addressed the fact that he was busy and couldn't fulfill his responsibilities/just flaked on us... in a team, your weakest link is your strength - so if someone is dragging their feet, not doing their things, and saying "we can't do it," it makes it really hard. Plus, since he is one of the leaders, he shouldn't have been the first to "abandon ship," throwing out his responsibilities, and complaining to other passengers that he doesn't know if the co-captain could navigate. Because he IS the other co-captain. Despite him though, we completed our project successfully. :) And thanks again for the broom analogy, I will definitely use this mentality in future work with other people.

About future leadership positions, maybe I am being too hard on myself. But I've been thinking about this experience in two ways. 1) It is prepping me to be a better leader in the future, because leadership requires dealing with difficult people and sticky situations (this is what my dad tells me). or 2) It is encouraging me to take more of a follower position, rather than leadership positions, because my desire for harmony and being accepted by the group are compatible with being a "follower" (this is what my mom tells me); whereas being a "leader" requires dealing with conflict and disharmony all the time (not to mention, individual personalities). I used to think #1, but right now I am feeling #2. However, this might be because I am really burned out right now. perhaps this is just an opportunity for me to sit back and take the follower seat until i regain my momentum? hm...

For now I guess I will do this -> "Keep your nose to the grindstone and do exemplary work." However, I think that I should still send him a kindly worded email along the lines of, "I appreciate your opinions, but I believe that they would be better in a setting where we can work on them constructively to improve. In the future, please direct comments to me, rather than involving others." <- something like that, but more gentle and congratulating him on his recent job offer at another place (which he posted all over facebook). I feel that by doing this, I am letting him know that I am aware of what is being said and in a sense I am "checking" him. However, I don't know if this individual is mature enough to handle this email...
 

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You were good until the last paragraph. I think you should write the email, but you should never send it. Trust me on this...I'm not gonna steer you wrong. If you send that email, you will regret it.

Right now, he doesn't know that he is getting under your skin. If you send the email, he will have his confirmation.

Right now, people look at you and say "She's not like that. She's better than that." You send that email and he will have ammunition to show others, "See how she is!"

At some point in your life you have to stop wrestling with pigs. You both get dirty, but they like it.

If you act like you are above this, then you will be above it.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
^I agree with that saying about wrestling with pigs. I think it's also similar to the idea that we avoid muddy water, not because we're afraid of it, because we don't want to get dirty.

Anyway, I wrote a very eloquent (but concise) message to him after I posted my reply, so my feelings on that have changed -- I handwrote it so it's on paper. I folded it into an envelope and buried it under my folders/papers in an old box to read it in a month (I actually put this on the calendar to remind me). It's satisfying, as is. And I don't feel the need to send it (at least not as much as before). Anyway a month from now, I hope to open this letter and see how I was above the situation. It's just nice to know for myself.

And you're right, if I send it, it just serves as confirmation for him that this has got to me somehow. It'll just give him fuel to go further and do what has been working and give me unnecessary stress. That said, can you explain why you think this will give him ammunition to tell others "See how she is!" I agree it'd give him ammunition to talk about me more, because he knows it bothers me. But I don't quite understand how this would allow him to say to others "see how she is!"

Thanks!
 

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It would be difficult for you, while being upset by this person, to write an email that did not allude to some of the problems that you've had with him. When you write such things, it is easy for them to be taken out of context and to be used to portray you (the writer) in a poor light.

HTH
 

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If someone uspets me then I always first assess the situation in the following way:

Basically I come to these conclusions:
1. Why did they do what they did? - I always need to feel I know what was going on in their head, because it helps me understand why they acted the way they did.
2. Why did I feel upset? - I need to know why I reacted or am reacting the way I am.

Having established that, I proceed to:

3. Based on why they did what they did and why I felt upset, am I justified in feeling upset?
- if the answer is no, I let it go.
- if the answer is 'maybe but it will blow over', I let it go.
- if the answer is 'yes', then if I care about my relationship with this person in the slightest or if I care about the consequences of their behaviour in the slightest, I always say something. I do that because it's easier .. if you sweep things under the rug then they're still under the rug. It doesn't solve anything and makes me harbour resentment and indignation.

The way I say something to people is this: "Don't make people defensive, make them defenceless". Making someone defensive won't get you anywhere. They'll become blocked, angry, unreasonable. Making someone defenceless does none of that and also makes them respect you.

How to make someone defenceless?
1. Be really genuine and honest.
2. Make it clear that you're talking to someone about this because your relationship matters to you.
3. Don't be apologetic, not even in the slightest. You're not apologizing to them.
4. Be direct - keep it simple and just tell the truth.
6. Show that you understand where they're coming from.
7. Stand your ground.
8. Assume a positive outcome and thank them for it in advance.

For example: "Hi, I've come to talk to you because I think we've been miscommunicating. I respect you and it would upset me to feel like we'd misunderstood each other. When you said/wrote/did blah blah, I know you did it because such-and-such matteres/mattered to you and I totally get that, but in fact the way it comes/came across to me was such-and-such. As a result I obviously felt hurt/angry/upset and so I felt I had to tell you because it matters to me that we should get along. Thank you for hearing me out." Say that with a wave of peace, respect and total confidence and you've won.. Nobody can criticize you for simple honesty like that.
 
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