I've come in contact with a situation recently at work where a co-worker I formerly worked with in an old position has been misrepresenting or creating tension by lying about situations of contact with me.

All of his lying/misrepresenting has to do with my work ethic. This is a problem as I work hard and pride myself on my ability to use reason to solve complex networking and IT problems.

Most recently, he told his Director that the he had asked me what the root cause of a problem was and I replied by saying it was an issue on his end and walked away from him. This is a lie for two reasons; not only did he never ask me that question but I also had no contact with him the day of the issue.

This coworker has done this before in the past and unfortunately it is affecting my ability to co-operate with his department since I have been forced to get everything he says in writing to prevent this type of lying.

I'd like to resolve this positively.

  • 2
    possible duplicate of Best way to deal with dishonest colleagues
    – gnat
    Jun 24, 2014 at 20:08
  • @gnat, that other question is regarding a dishonest subordinate. This is a different issue.
    – O. Jones
    Jun 25, 2014 at 2:06
  • @OllieJones meta.stackexchange.com/questions/194476/…
    – gnat
    Jun 25, 2014 at 8:16
  • 1
    My situation is different, there is little to no damage that can be caused by that other situation while my situation could lead me to a damaged reputation. These are direct lies being told to managerial staff, not to each other. Other poster met the issue with veiled sarcasm, extremely unprofessional. I am trying to work out a proper response that will stop this bad behavior from continuing.
    – HAL
    Jun 25, 2014 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, you'll have to get used to getting everything that's important from him in writing. I had to deal with a CEO whose relationship with the truth was pretty abusive, and both my junior colleague and I had to resort to getting everything from him in writing, including the day and the weather we had that day.

Your plan of attack should have the following simultaneous moving parts:

  1. Get it down in writing. Think of if as a necessary cost of doing business with him, as long as he is around. If he gets fired, the problem is solved. Until he gets fired, the most and best you can do is manage the problem of his habitually not telling the truth by continually getting it in writing.

  2. Build up your credibility with his colleagues and management. DON'T let this guy be the exclusive conduit of info about you to his colleagues and management. You're courting slaughter (yours) if you do. Go to lunch with them, stop by their desks, email them. Whatever it takes to open up the communication channels and keep them open. Invite them to immediately reach out to you should they have any concerns about you. Nip the rumor mongering in the bud.

  3. Out of sheer self-preservation, double check everything he says to you. As a side note, I far prefer to deal with a habitual liar than the kind of liars who mix truth and lies in a whole package that's impossible to sort out. As far as I am concerned, those liars that mix truth and lies are just about the worst.

  4. Tell the truth. Keep telling the truth to the point that they'll choose to believe you even if the facts point otherwise. I have gotten out of very tight situations where the circumstantial evidence was against me and the only thing I had going for me was my word. And no, I wasn't guilty but damn, I looked guilty as hell.

The whole point of this exercise is to create a working environment that makes it exceedingly difficult for him to lie and walk away from his lies in one piece. Which brings out:

  1. If you catch him in a lie, make sure to expose his lie to everyone, if it can be done. No, you didn't do it to him, he did it to himself. His lies are his blade. Drive home the message that he can cut himself with his own blade and that there is a price to be paid for lying about you.

The plan is designed to bring the pressure on him and keep the pressure on him. Don't feel sorry for him - the busier he is keeping the pressure off him, the less time he has for you.

You want to resolve this positively? Then define "resolve this positively" as he won't drive you crazy.

Good luck to you :)

  • 1
    This coworker is a brown noser for lack of a better word. I'm trying to discern if he is intentionally lying to better his position or if he's misunderstanding things and transfixing answers by jumping to conclusions. The specific incident today, the coworker repeated what I said to another coworker about the source of an issue (A) and applied my answer to issue B. My problem is that he not only incorrectly applied my answer but also claimed I "walked away" from the problem. Issue A did not occur near coworker or within earshot, Issue B was never reported to my department or myself.
    – HAL
    Jun 25, 2014 at 3:15
  • 1
    So there is no way for me to have said anything to the coworker, the answer was something he received secondhand and must have personally decided to apply it to a non-related issue (B). Issue A, I pointed our Tier 1 agents in the right direction for resolution (Script was not sending out emails, our email relay's IP recently changed).
    – HAL
    Jun 25, 2014 at 3:18
  • I a,glad you pointed to a fix as soon as you found out. Whether your co-worker intentionally lied or simply misunderstood is irrelevant - what's relevant is that he did damage to you. I'd recommend that whomever you told the fix to, you also tell that person to contact you directly if there is a need for a follow-up. Again, it's very important for you to keep your lines of communication open with your co-worker's colleagues and management so that they are comfortable going directly to you. Jun 25, 2014 at 3:30
  • 2
    My typical retort would be "I was not even aware that there was a problem. Since he knows that I walked away from the problem and I didn't know that I had walked away from the problem, did he tell you why I walked away from the problem? Because I don't know the reason why I walked from the problem either. And what else does he know about my life that I don't?" Jun 25, 2014 at 3:37

This fellow's attitude toward you does not define you. Don't let yourself forget that, no matter how nasty he becomes.

This is an interdepartmental issue, so you should ask your supervisor for advice. You might say, "for some reason I don't understand, this man Jack believes I have a poor work ethic and doesn't hesitate to tell his colleagues that. But it's not true. Can you suggest anything I can do differently to give our department the best chance of succeeding in this project with Jack's department?"

Your supervisor might say, "don't worry about Jack. His supervisor knows very well he likes to trash-talk people. He's a well-known whiner." Your supervisor might also have some useful suggestions.

When you frame it as a question of departmental success, you remove it from the realm of the personal and make it into a business problem to solve, which is the right place for it. You also enlist your supervisor's help in a constructive way.

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