In recent months two related things happened at work regarding my ideas:

  • I made a suggestion which some people were sceptical about, but others liked it, and it was adopted. It has now become clear to me that it's was a wrong idea and has led to issues, but my boss seems to almost religiously believe it's right and passionately defends it even to me... even though I only brought it up as an idea that might or might not work in the beginning
  • In another case I did a project in a certain way, but upon presenting the solution I was asked to take a different approach, which I did, reluctantly. Now a few months later I have been asked why it was done this way and not another way, by the person who asked me to do it differently

I'm not sure whether my colleagues have genuinely forgotten the past or are scheming, and don't know how to act in this situation so as not to be rude?

  • 17
    Why not just answer honestly 'because you wanted me to do it that way', best to have documentation on it, but between professionals this should be fine.
    – Kilisi
    Aug 14, 2020 at 0:41
  • 1
    Unfortunately, this is pretty normal. There's some saying like "success has a 1,000 fathers, failure is an orphan". In the 2nd case you cite, it's completely reasonable to tell the person "you wanted me to do it that way" if you can back it up.
    – DaveG
    Aug 14, 2020 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


They have genuinely forgotten

One of the reasons I greatly enjoy Teams or Facebook Messenger is that I can just search for keywords and then reply to the original message where someone told me something that contradicts what they just told me.

99% of the time, they go "oh" and we move on to another topic.

Scheming people, at least ones that are any good at scheming, learn not to directly contradict themselves. That is too easy to catch.

In the first case, it is quite possible that your boss has changed his position on it over time.

  • I am firmly in the oh camp!
    – Benjamin
    Aug 14, 2020 at 7:32
  • Although be aware that many companies have retention policies on their Messenger apps which means messages can be deleted after X number of days. Aug 14, 2020 at 13:52
  • 1
    You overestimate schemers... Aug 16, 2020 at 7:22
  • "schemers learn to not directly contradict themselves": a) how do they learn? By being confronted, having to up their game, b) Only if need be, they can often easily turn situations into "He said/ He said", then going by "reputation". I very much disagree with that assertion, and thus your conclusion. One could assume good intentions, which, to me, would be better reasoning, but one should do that consciously, and only until proven otherwise
    – bytepusher
    Aug 16, 2020 at 7:36

These are two separate situations:

  1. Perhaps try explaining to your boss, in specific business terms, why the solution has proven to not be appropriate. Does it cause increased support tickets? Show them. Does the product crash periodically? Show them the alerting metrics. Any actual, tangible business impact you can prove...do so. Bosses defend based on available knowledge, and many of them are too busy to be aware of day-to-day nuances, until the client calls them at 3AM.

  2. Surely you have written confirmation of such a significant change in direction? If so, forwarding the story/e-mail where the direction was given and acknowledged, should end any question of why you did things the way you did. If you didn't get the directive in writing: consider this a lesson learned. Anything not written down, didn't happen. In most workplaces, there is an element of trust that makes this rule less significant for day-to-day work items, but if people are in the habit of forgetting things (maliciously or not, doesn't matter), you need to be proactive in documenting everything so this doesn't happen again. For the current situation, all you can really do is re-state the past, politely, and move on.

  • 2
    I remember very productive meetings where we all agreed on an approach. actually doing it was delayed for months, when we got around to doing it everybody had forgotten! We then had to rediscuss what we will do. Which is a less severe case than that of OP. It still shows: Memory is a fickle thing, meeting notes are a livesaver!
    – Benjamin
    Aug 14, 2020 at 7:32

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