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"I have a problem with my supervisor..."
a customer service rep at a company, and I have a problem with my supervisor.
Besides the problem that she is a backstabbing, conniving, manipulative
you know what. She has continued to gossip about me to an ex co-worker
(who is the same type of person as my supervisor). I know misery loves
company but this has gone on too long and I'm fed up.
Dear Help Needed,
You are facing one of the more difficult situations that we confront in human relations, how to deal with someone who is very difficult to deal with. You have already identified three approaches to the issue; 1) ignore her, 2) confront her and 3) leave.
The first approach, as you report, seldom helps. The problem is, we need to interact with other people in the workplace and even if we can ignore our difficult relationships for a time, something will stir us to act out at some point. Trying to repress our feelings of anger and resentment can result in an inappropriate explosion when we do let loose. Bottling up emotions turns us into a pressure cooker, waiting to blow up.
The second approach is usually the first one I recommend. But you need to be careful. Where there is a power imbalance, or the other party has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted you may not be wise to confront them. You also need to think through carefully how you are going to approach them. It is best done in a non-blaming way that presents the other party with a problem that you recognize is mutual and needs to be worked on together. It will be counter productive to simply point out what the other party is doing wrong, in your opinion, and demand that they change.
If you think there is any possibility for a one-on-one meeting to lead to positive results, I would suggest that you consult with someone you trust, either in the organization or outside it, and ask for their guidance on how to approach your supervisor. You might do a role play with that person to try out how it sounds to have such a conversation. Try reversing roles and putting yourself into the role of your supervisor.
If you are not comfortable with approaching your supervisor one-on-one, then the next option is to involve one other person from within the firm. If your organization has a Human Resources person, they are the ones who have this responsibility. If there is no formal HR person, consider consulting your supervisor's superior, or another senior person in the firm. Ask this person to meet with you and your supervisor and help to mediate the conflict and work toward a better relationship.
If these suggestions fail, or if you feel that, after considering them, the risks are too high, then your plan to look for other employment seems the best option. As you consider other positions be on the look out for signals that you might have missed in taking your current job that you now see could have indicated that this problem might be anticipated. Does the new firm have an HR person to help in these situations? Is there a conflict resolution policy in place? Is there an employee assistance program to provide neutral, confidential advice?
I wish you well with this challenging situation.
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