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This has happened many months ago, however I have lost much sleep over this issue, and I would like your honest opinion. I am a graduate, and through this, and experienced 'workplace politics', and maybe bullying.

I need to come to terms with some resolution. I am sick of dwelling in the past.

I may be in the wrong, please hear me out! But I am not sure, since no one has told me otherwise. Feels like management doesn't want to deal with this. However, I think I was in the wrong, due to my colleagues' collective reactions.

TLDR: Replied (probably inappropriately) to an angry email, which I believe led me to become ostracized from a close-knit group. I got the silent treatment from everyone. Sleepless nights and felt really bad, felt betrayed by my new 'friends'. Felt very lonely. Tried apologizing to no avail, or a "F*ck off". Secretly went to a Psychologist (yes, I felt that bad), and the psychologist said that I was bullied. Management somehow found out, and said that I shouldn't have replied, and that I wasn't really affected enough to be considered bullied, said I need to be more empathetic. Was I actually bullied or not?


Backstory:

  1. We are Graduates in a company. I was the new graduate... joining the already tight-knit graduate group. We are a happy gang, going to lunch together etc.
  2. I was very busy, working outside one day, and this older graduate rang me to get my password, so that she can do her (newly assigned) work.
  3. For your info, she needed my credentials to login to a client's server, to do her (newly assigned) work.
  4. You're not allowed to share passwords! In my mind, alarm bells. This is illegal according to company policy. So, I told her I was busy, that I couldn't remember my password (truth. I haven't used the password in months), and that I'll let her know in about an hour, when I would be free to find my unused password.
  5. She kept ringing me... and I ignore her. 5 ignored calls later, I got annoyed, and called up her manager, asking if she has the permission to use my credentials. She didn't have permission.
  6. About 10 minutes later, and about 3 ignored calls later, she was granted permission to use my credentials. I can give her my credentials now, without any risk of repercussions.
  7. However, I was still busy...
  8. About 10 minutes later, I receive an email from her, with EVERYONE CC'd to the email. Basically it said something like,

  9. "Hi all. Amy (manager's name), thank you for the permission to use John's credentials. Right now, John didn't give me his credentials and so preventing me from working. John, give me your credentials so that I can do my job. Regards..."

  10. That last part, "...so that I can do my job", really irked me. In my mind, "Why, and how could you send this to EVERYONE? (I felt betrayed). Also, who am I to prevent you from doing your job? I am not your manager. I am not your baby sitter."

  11. I am very pissed off at this stage, and I made a mistake by being a righteous prick, by replying (to her, along with everyone) like this:

  12. "Hi... I have told you that I am extrememly busy with a client, and that I will get back to you... Please do not demand information from me, I do not appreciate it, especially when you do not have the authorization... As per company policy, you are not allowed to share credentials, especially when a client has entrusted you with it.... You now have the authorization now, so here are my credentials..."

  13. I thought I had done the justifiably right thing - following company policy, and explaining why I didn't immediately give my credentials.

  14. After that email was sent, it was probably the point of no return.

  15. Basically, all the graduates, many immediately, have started to give me the silent treatment. They went out to lunch without me. They stopped inviting me to anything anymore. They talked about their graduate party in the weekend / movie nights. THey said all of these things around me, and ignore me like I don't exist.

  16. In my mind, I have offended ONE person. I didn't offend 10 others in the group. But it was like I offended everyone.

  17. I felt horribly sad for many months to come. I tried sucking it up. I kept thinking, "Why is everyone against me on this? Makes absolutely no sense" I lost many hours of sleep for many days. I still haven't come to terms with this whole ordeal. (thus, this question... many months later.)

  18. After about a month, I said, "This isn't a good way to live..." and so, very awkwardly, tried to apologise to her. She ignored the F out of me, like I didn't exist....

  19. I tried to apologise, or just talk to another graduate who I (have now previously) respected, by very awkwardly and uncomfortably saying, "Hey, I don't know if I have offended you, but if you would like to talk about it I am open to it..." I was basically about to sh!t my pants at that point.

  20. He mumbled to me to "F*ck off".

  21. I seeked professional counciling over this as I felt horrible for many months. The psychologist told me that I was a victim of bullying (silent treatment), but I believe it's their job to help you come to terms with things. I couldn't let it go, especially when the workplace attitude didn't change.

  22. Management somehow found out about this. We had a chat. Basically they made me feel like 'bad guy' (quotes, because I think nothing's ever black and white), by saying, "Apparently you threw someone under a bus..." although they never admitted whether I was wrong or right. I told them my side of the story, and then they sighed... and basically they told me to "use the phone next time", and literally "Ignore the haters".


Lessons Learned

  • For your info, I believe I have learned from this ordeal. Emails are NOT the way to go, when things are urgent. Pick up the phone. Email isn't the best medium for communication, as messages may be mistranslated (and break friendships!). "Be the bigger person", by stepping back.

  • I did not react appropriately by replying to that email. I should have just picked up the phone, and told her that "I am very busy as I've told you, I don't appreciate you sending that email to everyone. I am trying to follow company policy and not get us into trouble... You have credentials now, and I've found my credentials. Here are the details..."

Question

  1. Everyone gave me the silent treatment after I sent that email to her, and I suddenly felt ostracized. I have tried to apologize, but they kept ignoring me. Was I being bullied by everyone as the psychologist has said, or am I just trying to justify my feelings by calling them bullies?

I just don't feel good about the whole situation, and would like to come to a closure somehow.

Edit: THis has happened nearly a year ago, and many have left (to better jobs!). FYI, I am asking this, because I am finding it difficult to move on.

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, Chris E, gnat, paparazzo, Adam V Sep 16 '16 at 19:49

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Sep 16 '16 at 21:05
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Your coworkers are jerks. What you described is not a normal reaction to a one time mistake. I would guess that the person you offended told them something other than what happened to make them so upset.

These people are not worth working with if they still haven't gotten over this mistake over the course of more than a couple of days. There is now no way that you you can gain their trust back and they will sabotage you at every chance. Your best bet is to leave.

Leave knowing you made a mistake, but that they made a much larger one. This is not totally your fault.

Don't let this put you off being friends with co-workers though. It is better to have friends than not in a workplace. I have never worked anywhere that this type of mistake would get someone ostracised like this, so they are an outlier. Once you leave, don't give another moment's thought to these people, they are not worth you spending your time trying to figure out what you could have done differently.

Also do not make the assumption not to respond to things by email, it is often best to have a paper trail. The thing you should learn from this is not to send emails when you are mad. Having a phone conversation when you are mad can be just as disastrous. Usually what I do is write the email taking care to not put anyone in the TO block. Then I can safely write everything I want to say with no way it can accidentally be sent. Once I get my mad out safely, it is usually easier to write a more professional response calmly.

  • it seems they are the one who leaved by the way but not sure if the manager who leaved him on this situation. So at least, changing of team would really be a good idea. – Walfrat Sep 16 '16 at 17:44
  • I agree, the whole situation reminded me of a place where I worked where most of the employees were straight out of school and I could watch people come out of a meeting and go straight to talk to their friends about others. – Amy Blankenship Sep 16 '16 at 18:46
  • "Leave knowing you made a mistake, but that they made a much larger one. This is not totally your fault." Why or how did they make a larger one? BTW I appreciate your answer! You seem to be able to empathize, thank you. . – daCoda Sep 17 '16 at 0:48
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    They made a larger one because they made assumptions about you without talking to you first. Because they chose to ostracise someone over something that most people woudl blow off. – HLGEM Sep 17 '16 at 9:18
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I don't see any bullying going on here. What I do see is you made several mistakes.

You should have referred her to your manager in the first instance, you quite rightly refused to give your credentials and she is to blame for getting upset, not you.

Secondly you should have referred her email to your manager.

Lastly you let it get to you, let it go, dwelling on minor issues from the past is not constructive and leads to bitterness which feeds off itself. Unless everyone is interfering with your job, brush it off, it's not a popularity contest.

  • Why was this down voted? – Dustybin80 Sep 16 '16 at 15:03
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    I didn't downvote, but if the OP's email was worded exactly as stated, I don't see where he/she would have had reason to suspect everyone would overreact like that or that there was a need to refer the issue to the manager. IMO, telling someone to f off for trying to apologize when they basically didn't do anything wrong is completely unprofessional. – Amy Blankenship Sep 16 '16 at 15:09
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    Another mistake: do not avoid replying or make fake excuses to avoid dealing with the problem in the hope she'll go away. If you had immediately replied with your concerns about giving out your password, this while situation probably would not have happened. By avoiding replying, there is an implication that you believed she had malicious intent, which is also offensive. – Kai Sep 16 '16 at 15:54
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    I won't call a minor issue a full team ignoring you like you're a ghost and a manager not doing anything. – Walfrat Sep 16 '16 at 17:45
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    I think it's a big mistake to let an incident like this convince you you shouldn't have friends in the workplace. There are a lot of things that just to easier if you have good relations with your coworkers, which includes doing the things with them that you would do to make friends, and doing them sincerely. Which means you're going to be friends once you've done the things you need to do to promote good relations. – Amy Blankenship Sep 16 '16 at 18:41
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You didn't handle this very diplomatically. Instead of ignoring the phone calls and trying to be the "regulator", you should have referred her immediately to someone with the actual authority to make a final decision - your boss. It should have been an e-mail from you to your boss to make your boss aware, and solicit a trackable written response. This way, no one could point the finger at you later for going against company policy.

Instead, you ignored the woman over eight phone calls - which held up her work - and then called her boss to complain about the woman's tasks (that the boss probably assigned). This is not a way to make yourself known as a team player. No, no, no.

The responses weren't great, either. If you ask me, you've all been acting very immature, and that behavior has no place in the workplace. You really can't hold your team to any higher standard than what you did yourself. It will take a long time for this to blow over.

  • A mentioned, I may be in the wrong, and I think you're suggesting that all this 'bullying' from everyone was my own fault, that I had it coming. I can't understand - how was it my fault, that she couldn't work (I am not her baby sitter), because she never initially had authorization to use my entrusted credentials (from a client), that she couldn't be more patient since I told her I will get back to her (and then ignored her subsequent spam demands), but most importantly, how was it my fault that everyone else surprisingly (and seemingly randomly) turned against me... – daCoda Sep 16 '16 at 23:50
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    If you showed up for work, and the person who has the keys to the building doesn't show up, it's that person's fault if nobody can get work done. Likewise - your co-worker made a request. By the context, I can guess that she shared that it was urgent. It would have taken you 60 seconds to escalate to your boss via e-mail, but you lied to her about what you were actually going to do, which was to ignore her request (and "regulate" her) instead of escalating it. The bullying was wrong, but you're still failing to see your part in intentionally creating a work stoppage. – Xavier J Sep 16 '16 at 23:59
  • I was actually about to reply to her (so I did not lie), but I see your perspective. BOttom line though, I didn't have time for any of this (excalating or whatever). I've learned from this btw, and this kind of spamming nonsense will never happen again, since it won't reach that point. I still feel that the reactions from others (who weren't even involved) was unwarranted, unexpected and bullying - would you agree with that, or is that my fault too? – daCoda Sep 17 '16 at 0:45

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