5

I've been a technician for an optometry clinic for about a year, and I'm continuously learning that my office manager is very biased and makes inappropriate comments to coworkers (mainly about coworkers' appearances/personal lives/etc.) This sort of thing has affected me directly a couple times, and bothered me, but I shook it off and moved on.

However, today I learned (via a friend/coworker) that my office manager came to her and asked her if I had any plans to quit. Apparently another coworker had gone to her and told her that they saw me working on my resume (not true), and that I hated my job (definitely not true). When my friend stuck up for me and told me that this was definitely a rumor and I loved it there, my office manager responded by saying that my friend was "the only person she'd talked to who thought otherwise." Implying that she had gone to multiple coworkers behind my back and they had all come to some sort of consensus that I didn't like it there and had plans on quitting. She was even considering hiring someone else just in case I threw in the towel soon.

To give some more background information, I love my job. I love working with the patients and doctors, and I would consider myself pretty dedicated. I wouldn't say that I'm close to very many of my coworkers, but I've always made a point to be courteous to them and make light conversation during down time. Although I've been working there a year, I'm the newest employee, and it's a pretty close-knit (and very cliquey) group of people. For that reason, I've found it hard to fit in (and I'm a naturally quiet person), but I've never been rude to anyone.

So my question is... where do I go from here? My office manager made my friend promise that she wouldn't tell me, but she still felt that I had the right to know what was going on. If I go to my office manager (or the doctor... who is her boss) directly, she would without a doubt know how I found out and my friend could get in trouble. This feels so juvenile... but I'm really at a loss as to how to resolve all these rumors about me.

EDIT: I'm getting downvotes, but no indication why. How can I improve my question?

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Workplace gossip makes me uncomfortable - how do I deal with it? – gnat Apr 9 '17 at 7:25
  • @gnat, that post doesn't help me because I have been following the advice there, but now find that a superior is now relying on rumors rather than approaching me. – Foster Gough Apr 9 '17 at 18:56
  • @Joe Strazzere the structure is not so formal. She is my superior and her only superiors are the doctors. – Foster Gough Apr 9 '17 at 19:10
  • if the office manager truly talked to everyone then they can't pin it back on your friend – NKCampbell Apr 9 '17 at 22:38
  • "Apparently another coworker had gone to her and told her that they saw me working on my resume (not true)". Do you work on a computer? Is it possible that this person saw you on a computer doing something else? – Stephan Branczyk Apr 10 '17 at 9:48
10

You go straight to your office manager and say: "I heard someone is spreading lies about me wanting to leave. That's totally unacceptable. I want to know who is starting these rumours".

Why would you say that? Not because you actually want to know who started it. But because by demanding an answer like that, you kill any discussion about whether you want to leave or not, you have now very clearly stated the fact that anyone saying you want to leave is lying. You also haven't accused the office manager of anything (even if it is her who started the rumours).

What can your office manager say to that? You have just stated clearly that anyone saying you want to leave is a liar. And it should be obvious that since you know whether you want to leave or not, that is a fact. So there is nothing she can say unless she wants to call you a liar straight to your face. And the way you put it, that would be very, very awkward for her to do.

Should she try to say that she thought you wanted to leave, you say "what would make you think that nonsense"? With every word you say, you make very clear that these rumours are lies and/or nonsense. The point is that you never defend yourself. You make it clear that there is no need for any defence - any talk about you leaving is nonsense.

If you are asked about how you know, the answer is "never mind how I know. I'm not deaf and blind. I hear things. It doesn't matter how I know, I want these lies to stop and you are the office manager, that's why I come to you".

  • 4
    This is an extremely confrontational approach. Although accurate, there is a high chance there will be passive lash back on the person's head for the confrontation. I seriously doubt anyone who is willing to gossip and spread rumors like this will have any heartache over lashing out passively against them and covering it with politically correct kindness that is untraceable in a legal or ethical standpoint. Also this will likely result in more rumors of the persons hostility flying around behind the scenes. Your not dealing with an honest person here and I doubt bullying will go well... – mutt Apr 9 '17 at 16:01
  • 2
    @matt - The confrontation has already begun. The fight is already dirty. You either need to play dirty to win, or walk away. There is no "High Road" to keep the job, any more. – Wesley Long Apr 9 '17 at 21:19
  • Gossip is purposely avoiding "confrontation" as it's never spoken to the person. The situation mentioned is a single person calling out, which although accurate as it's the manager, I doubt will end well unless the manager is actually more mature than implied in the question. Not saying it isn't an option, but if the manager and most the staff are good with gossip, the confronting person will become an instant "outsider" or "aggressive" individual for the entire office. The choice is always there, but this approach gives you only one shot and then the whole office may take issue... – mutt Apr 10 '17 at 3:56
  • Personally, I would tone down the confrontational language a little bit, but I would still confront the office manager over this. I don't think there is a way around it. And while you're at it, you could also mention that you don't like to be excluded from the group and you could ask that you be included in lunches, meetings, or activities outside of work that your coworkers do together, if any. – Stephan Branczyk Apr 10 '17 at 9:55
  • Until the last para, this is perfect - enlist the manager's help, make it clear you consider them an expert in the office culture, wonder how such a thing might have happened. The last para is IMO far too strong, though - a vague "oh, I've heard people talking" is enough. – AakashM Dec 1 '17 at 8:59
3

It is very immature behavior and I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I always found the best way to kill rumors is share facts with everyone at the same time.

I would recommend you broadcast email everyone at the office including bosses and doctors and just state you heard a rumor of x about yourself and you wanted to assure them that y is the truth so that nobody gets the wrong understanding. Also include that if anyone has any questions or concerns related to you to please come and talk to you directly and you would be happy to share the truth with them about it instead of talking to other people, since talking about someone else could lead to mis-information being given.


You could also confront the manager about gossiping behind your back...which likely won't go well or talking to the doctor directly about the manager...which even if it changes things it won't put you in a good light for future working relationships either. Also keep in mind that if the whole office is already gossiping you might consider finding another office with more honest people.

  • 1
    This would work in two ways. Not only you make clear there's a liar (gossip) in the workplace, but you just have had leave a record for HR in the case things escalate up – William-H-M Nov 30 '17 at 22:55
0

IMHO, looks like this Office Manager have someone for your position and want to coax you out to replace with this person.

It may be a good idea to go straight to HR and write him up for inappropriate behavior and gossip.

Also, you could reaffirm your position of loving the job and not planning to leave.

  • Taking actions on assumptions (has someone for your position and wants to coax you out) - bad advice. – Jan Doggen Nov 30 '17 at 22:28
  • I didn`t suggest to say to HR that someone is aiming for your position. My opinion was, if something like this happen, if you value your job, you need to go above the party in question to get your position heard and known. Especially if its regarding your immediate supervisor – Strader Dec 1 '17 at 17:37
  • 1
    I'm upvoting this based on my own past experience. My take is similar, in that they are actively spreading a lie in order to make everyone think that you are planning on leaving, and pursuing that goal on the clock instead of working as hard as everyone else. Perception is reality. Once that narrative gets a little traction, anyone with bias toward you, or affinity toward the Office Manager, will likely believe it. This is step one in getting you fired, if you don't leave first. – fearofmusic May 8 '18 at 15:45
-2

Generally you don't act on third party information unless you have to. In this case I don't see any need to act at all and I can't see a constructive way you could do so.

My advice would be just to ignore it until you have something more concrete to worry about.

  • 1
    +1 It is not safe to assume that the report of the conversation with the office manager is totally accurate. The person reporting it is not above making and breaking a promise of confidentiality. My suspicious mind even includes in evaluating this the possibility that the friend wants to get the OP's job for someone else, and is trying to create trouble between the OP and the office manager by exaggerating or even lying. Just getting on with the job is a good course of action regardless of the accuracy of the report. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 9 '17 at 15:02
  • Problematic situations left untreated only grow bigger and more problematic – Strader Nov 30 '17 at 21:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.