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I work in the US. A coworker complained to management about me regarding leaving work for her and about a work question I asked her. My manager informed me of this. I felt betrayed. The job is my livihood and she is tarnishing my reputation as a hard worker. The next time I saw her, she said "good morning" and I ignored her. Then she says "it's hot in here isn't it?" I ignored her again. Then she tries to say more random chit chatty stuff and I tell her I am upset at her and I don't understand why she complained to management when she was the one who told me it was ok to leave items that did not come in by FedEx until the next day and she was the one who trained me so I was only asking a confirming question about work. Her reply was she's not going to justify that with an answer. I tell her to please cut the chit chat because I don't want it. She says "I was just saying good morning". I tell her I do not care, I just want you to leave me alone.

She ended up abruptly leaving for the rest of the day. The next day, the Manager calls me in for a meeting and tells me that this co-worker is saying I caused her to leave work and that I am ignoring her and confronting her. My manager said I should at least say hi. I disagree with this. I feel I don't owe this co-worker anything in terms of pleasantries if she can go so far as to complain about me then not explain herself when I confront her about it.

Do you think I have to be cordial when she stabbed me in the back?

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    for me this would be the "cue malicious compliance" Nov 16, 2023 at 8:38
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    When the manager informed you of the complaint, was it a reprimand or did they just want to let you know so you could, perhaps, resolve the issue with your co-worker? Nov 16, 2023 at 12:57
  • ignoring and confronting are mutually exclusive...
    – Esther
    Nov 16, 2023 at 21:34
  • I'm a little bit confused by this question.. If I understand it, you asked your co-worker a question on what to do with X, you did as she told your... And then she complained to management about you asking that question and doing as she told you... Is that correct?
    – Questor
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:08
  • Yes. That is what my manager told me she complained about. I was really upset at first. But now in retrospect, I realize she's not that important and what she says is not that important. My hard work speaks for itself. Nov 17, 2023 at 21:59

6 Answers 6

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You owe your co-workers courtesy and cooperation if you want to keep your job. You are massively overreacting. Get over it. Or at least don't let your behavior confirm their complaints about your being hard to work with.

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Do you think I have to be cordial when she stabbed me in the back?

Yes, platitudes mean nothing, and cost nothing. But they're the part of the social grease that prevents us all slaughtering each other over trifles.

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  • I feel she is manipulating me. She gets to complain, then I have to be nice to her. Nov 16, 2023 at 8:21
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    @DiligentWorker25 you don't have to be nice but you do have to be civil
    – AakashM
    Nov 16, 2023 at 10:12
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If you want to show that you don't consider her to be an ally, you can be polite but aloof at the same time. If a colleague smiles at you smile back. If someone says "Good morning" do likewise, there is no requirement to do small talk with someone you personally dislike.

But I think both of your behaviours are immature. Her running to the manager to complain of one incident and yours with your openly sullen attitude. Rise above the tort received.

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Everybody says stupid things sometimes. It's quite possible that the coworker just wasn't thinking about the impact of her words against you when she spoke to management.

Whatever the case, the best thing you can do is to forgive that initial transgression and treat it as anonomaly. It's OK to tell this person, directly, that you did not appreciate the reputation hit and are doing the job to the best of your ability given what you know.

But you've done more than that, of course, and are now at risk of this coworker seeing you as a adversary.

To overcome that, it is advisable to reach out to her and explain that you were hurt and that's why you weren't in the mood to be cordial. Apologize. And suggest that you would like to put all this behind both of you and maintain a positive work atmosphere.

If the back-stabbing talk continues, you've got a bigger problem. Some people just do that and, once offended, aren't able to let things go regardless of whether or not they're at fault.

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You don't believe the initial complaint was warranted. That's fine, we all have our opinion and frankly no-one here can tell you if it was warranted or not. We don't have any facts about it so we cannot make a judgement.

What we can say is that from your own description, you are now behaving in a way which warrants complaints. Her now complaining about your interactions with her is entirely justified.

What should you do?

Rather that behaving badly and petulantly, find out how you both can find a way to work together that doesn't cause either of you problems. Put simply, communicate!

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I disagree with other answers that you have to be nice to your co-worker. You are there to perform your work tasks, if those are fulfilled without talking to your co-worker, then I would say you did your duty. Maybe confirm that with your manager if your work includes chit-chatting with the co-worker.

Obvious risks implied by doing this:

  • management is free to replace you with someone who greets and talks to his co-workers and ups the mood in the team by doing so

So you should ask yourself how big your willingness is to lose/change jobs over this issue or if you would prefer to say "hi" and keep the job.

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