I am currently working on a company I found through a compatriot who is currently my coworker, and I get the feeling that he is acting as if he owned me because he told me about the position the company was offering.

The truth is that finding this position came at an extremely critical moment. Hadn't I been hired, I would have had to leave the country, my girlfriend... I am very thankful for him letting me know about the position, but I personally think he's going too far with his actions since I started working with him.

This guy is a very unethical person, for several reasons, but there are two issues that are affecting me directly and getting on my nerves:

  1. This company (a very small start-up) has a very loose working hours policy. We can pretty much get there whenever we feel like and no one complains. This guy arrives very late to the office, and almost every day at around ~6pm he starts asking me "Hey!... what time did you get to the office today?". When I reply that "At around 9", he starts commanding me to leave. The reason, expressed by himself, is that he himself wants to leave, but he fears that my staying will make him look bad (he's probably right about that). Truth is that by 6 pm I have already worked more than the required time in the contract (8 hours a day), but I don't like being pressured this way. He is not satisfied even if I tell him that I would like to finish some task. He keeps pushing me to go home and leave the work for the next day. If I complain too much, he inexorably brings up the fact that I got the job thanks to him.

  2. The company is willing to apply for a different type of working visa (one that would allow us to stay for way longer time in the country) for the both of us. The company doesn't have much funding so this person is concerned that only one visa would be granted. Our lawyer says that is not the case (if one visa is granted, two will be as well), but he doesn't seem to believe it and he is pressuring me to stall my visa application until he gets his. Also, our management gave us some hints that if only one visa was granted, they would choose me (that may be another reason of why he's pressuring me directly over the issue). Of course, you can imagine what happens if I try to raise any complain... Yeah, "I got the job thanks to him, and I should be thankful I got to stay in the country some more time because of his intervention".

As I previously said, I am very grateful to him, but I feel I'm being somehow "invaded" in my rights. My point of view is that he didn't get me the position, but an interview. It was me who passed the interview and I am being kept in the company because of my daily work, not his, but I'd like to know your opinion. Even if I were the one who's right here (which I'm not too sure) the daily life gets very stressful because of this constant pushing and pulling. I have seen really sensitive answers in this site, so here it goes: How would you deal with this type of situation?

  • Rest assured, you are not alone. There are so many such guys out there. I'm being owned and consumed by such coworker myself as of now because of the very same reason. They are totally possessed to believe that they own you, and you should pay back indefinitely, and if they think you are showing any signs of oblivion, they will immediately pull out the big guns and never hesitate to remind you again. Moreover, you have to play by their rules, regardless you agree or not. I'm totally with you and wanting to ask the same question.
    – grn
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 5:31

6 Answers 6


What he's failing to realize is that they aren't comparing him to you. They're comparing him to what kind of an employee they want for the job. It sounds like he's falling short of their expectations. If you feel you owe him, you might want to give him the advice he needs to hear.

"Stop worrying about how you compare to me in their eyes and start worrying about how the employee you are today compares to the employee you were yesterday."

This is (I assume) tech. It's not about appearances, it's about results. In a smaller company you can't hide behind your own subpar work by pretending it's somebody else's. If you bring yourself down to his level, you'll both stink and they won't try to secure visas for either of you. If you're both worthwhile, I have no idea why they wouldn't bring both of you on barring an expense that would be enormous compared to the expense of bringing somebody new on and training them up on the codebase as it stands. That strikes me as highly unlikely.

He's a lousy employee and he knows it. Whether he gets a visa is maybe still up to him at this point and there's nothing you can do to make him look better by reducing your own chances. If you know where he's weak, and you feel obligated however, you can try to help him get better but it doesn't sound like it's occurred to him that changing his own behavior is something he can or should have to actually do to reach his desired career goals.

  • 3
    Good insight about trying to help him raise his chances instead of making you lower yours. Settle this issue by yourselves so you can prevent each other from getting fired. Tell him you're grateful for his intervention, but at this rate, he's going to get you fired. Or worse (for him), he's going to get himself fired. Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 15:17

Play with fire and get burned

You work in a small company. That makes any disagreement, or any people who can't get along even more visible and more of a problem. Be very aware of this fact no matter what you do.

Actions speak louder than words

If this guy is as bad as you make him out to be, everyone in the company knows it. There is likely no need to bring further notice to it. Anything you can say will be far less damning than his actions.

Patience is a virtue

If he is that bad, he won't be long for this company. Do your work as you need to do yourself, play the fool about your station in the company in relation to him, and just wait for the other shoe to drop. Act shocked, show sympathy, part on good terms, and then move on with your life. He can't ask you to get him an interview at the job he was just fired from.

  • 3
    I think this answer combined with This answer by ErikReppen completely answer this question. Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 3:23
  • Yes, it's a pity I can only accept one answer!
    – Savir
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 20:30
  • Yeah, I totally agree with jmac. That's exactly how I'm playing now, only that I'm in a bigger company that almost never fire people. But still, I choose this none-confrontation method, because after all, we share the same friend circle. They are capable of immediately pull out the big guns at any time and never hesitate to remind you again, so they won't hesitate to bad mouth behind your back either. And we all know how reasonable they are.
    – grn
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 5:41

Talk with your boss in your 1-on-1 (set up regular meetings with your boss as the first step if you don't have them. Amazing how many common workplace problems are not issues at all if bosses/employees have a good working relationship).

Ask something like:

  • "Hey, do you guys have a requirement to only work a certain work day? Johnny seems to be really annoyed if I am working later than 6:00pm - sometimes it is best for me to keep working on my work past then but he's insistent I leave."


  1. Approach the issue without making the primary complaint about Johnny
  2. Make sure you don't come across as a slacker (you are asking your boss if you can work late basically)
  3. Will likely get insight into how your boss sees Johnny

Whatever you do, don't let him manipulate you for doing something which is already in his best interest.

Your company doing better is in his interest (all the more as a startup) and even if your company has no referral bonus structure, if you are doing a quality job then he is already benefitting without you having to bend over backwards during your daily work or sabotaging your career over this.


First, the people you have to impress in this job do not include him. He is not your boss or your boss's boss. That gives you more freedom of action.

The guy is a snake who is likely on his way out pretty soon anyway based on his actions. Management prefers you based on what they said about the visa. Partly why they prefer you is that you are actually doing your job and making him look bad. That is why he is pressurring you. It is highly likely (more than 90% in my opinion) that he is not working anywhere close to 8 hours a day. He wants you to leave, so he can leave and no one will know he didn't put in the hours. His next step will likely be to get you to start working slower because you are making him look bad.

You do not owe the guy anything past a thank you for helping you get an interview. No one can make you feel guilty without your consent. There is no need to feel guilty here for not wanting him to bug you to do what you don't want to do.

So treat him like any other pest who is annoying and who doesn't have the organziational clout to harm you. Ignore him or tell him to stop bothering you. If he escalates, discuss the issue with your boss (who likely would be very interested to know he is trying to get you to leave when you want to stay) and ask him to get the guy off your back.


I have just recently passed a friend's resume and he was successful in getting the position. In my opinion, it could have been anyone (and I treat it as such), although from a HR's perspective there is more weighting coming from a known source/contact. I suggest that as long as you do your job properly, then you won't feel bad whatever eventuates. Compromising your duty or worrying too much about his influence will give you no ground when your work performance is under scrutiny. Worry about only the things you have control over, the rest happens regardless, and usually it will be for the best.


Why not tell him what you're telling us? Tell him you appreciate his help in making a connection between you and the company, but that you feel like he's crossing a line.

Also, don't be ashamed of pushing past him if he's a slacker or lousy employee. You can't let your ambitions be inhibited by this guy's need to feel ahead of you because he was there before you.

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