Reader Submission: When In Doubt, Chlamydia.

“Roxanne” writes:

“I have history with a coworker. That history consists of her “telling on me” just about every chance she gets. All of the tattling results in me getting pulled into my supervisor’s office to get a refresher on being a team player.

My supervisor loves me. She thanks me at least once a month for everything that I do above and beyond my assigned work. I am appointed to so many committees (at work and outside of work), participate in a leadership program at work (which the supervisor nominated me for), promote our profession outside of the workplace, and have led legislative efforts affecting our profession so I am VERY involved.

AND I DO MY JOB. Everyday, I am right there, working with the team, offering assistance and communicating. Except with her. I talk to her and she keeps looking away, mumbles, and never really listens. She even occasionally brings work and places it in front of me and walks away with no explanation. It’s obvious to me that this is a personal issue, I am just not sure where it is coming from.

Today I was greeted at work by another example of her master plan to ruin me. While I was off work Friday, she told each of our coworkers individually that I was taking a different job within the organization. They confronted me this morning before I could even sit down. I have no idea what to say or do. I DID apply for another position — but I haven’t TOLD anyone that I applied.

I have no I idea what to do next. How do I handle this coworker? Should I say anything to her? What do I say to our other coworkers that now think I am jumping ship?”

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Dear “Roxanne”

Ugh, workplace drama is the worst. Co-workers can make or break a work experience. Let’s face it, you probably spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your friends or family. In your case Roxanne, I think we have moved past a disgruntled coworker and straight into nemesis territory.

As for handling this co-worker and her nasty attitude, our best suggestion is not to sink to her level. Let her mumble, let her drop work into your lap and not acknowledge your presence, and even let her continue to tattle. But, if you’re like us, you’d like nothing better than to sign her up for a summer at Camp Slapaho…accompanied maybe by a parting gift of rumors at work about why she’s on those antibiotics. Who cares if it’s for a recurring sinus infection? In Catty World, we call it chlamydia.

But ultimately, what is the point? It sounds like your boss knows that you are a dependable hard-worker who can be counted on to go above and beyond your job description. Resist those catty impulses to talk about this nemesis or to complain to your boss about her obvious vendetta. Have faith that if your boss can recognize the super hero in you they can probably recognize the villain in her.

Now, on to the issue of your nemesis telling your teammates about your job application while you were out. This is a cat(ty) of a different color that needs to be addressed ASAP.

First, are you sure you never mentioned this job opportunity on facebook, or over drinks after work? Our greatest concern is that if you didn’t inform anyone that you were applying for this job, then your nemesis must have obtained this information from someone else — someone who was in the position to know and who was bound by their position to keep that information confidential. We recommend talking to your human resources department and filing a complaint that your personnel information has somehow become public knowledge.

If your co-workers confront you about the application, be honest. If you get the job and you’ve lied, it will only make things worse. Explain to them that this kind of move was not out of a desire to hurt them (separations always hurt the kids you know), and that your only goal is professional growth. Smooth their ruffled feathers and make sure they understand that even if Mommy has to live somewhere else, you’ll still see them on the weekends and that this is NOT THEIR FAULT. You might want to add that you had always planned on letting everyone know about the potential opportunity when it became more than an application.

Regardless of what you decide to do, Roxanne, do it with your head held high and with as much integrity as you can muster. These kinds of situations are never easy, but you’ve proven, it seems, that you have the dedication and ethic to be worthy of the task.

And, if that fails, there’s always chlamydia.

The Am I Being Catty Team

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