How you can handle a spiteful workplace colleague
Q: A co-worker recently sent me a text that was clearly intended for someone else. In the text, “Brian” stated that dealing with me was “awkward” and he’d had enough of me to last the rest of his life.
This was quickly followed by a second text saying the previous one was misdirected, but it did not con- tain an apology.
Although he has a long history of throwing people under the bus, he has never done that with me. Brian has been friendly since then, but I’m still upset about his hateful comments. What should I do about this? A: Given Brian’s backstabbing reputation, this stealth attack shouldn’t come as a complete sur- prise. Trashing people is an attention-getting strategy, and you are just his latest victim.
Brian might be malicious, narcissistic or simply immature, but regardless of his motives, this is more about him than about you.
As for your next move, you basically have two choices. If you can simply attribute this incident to Brian’s dysfunctional personality, perhaps you can let it go. But if his nasty comments continue to reverberate in your brain, then you need to do something about it.
“Doing something” does not mean sending texts or emails, however. Difficult discussions should still take place in person. Calmly request that he be more specific. For example: “Brian, in the text which I mistakenly received, you indicated that working with me was awkward. Since you’ve been saying that to my co-workers, I would like to know what I can do to reduce the awkwardness in our relationship.”
Should Brian offer suggestions, do with those what you will. If he apologetically replies that he was in a bad mood that day, take him at his word and drop the subject. But for your own protection, remember that Brian is not to be trusted.