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Ranting email from colleague

(6 Posts)
JessieMcJessie Sun 24-Nov-13 05:41:16

I am a junior partner in a law firm, promoted less than a year ago. My promotion was very much supported and "sponsored" by a much more senior partner (X) for whom I had worked for years. He and I have a common Department Head (Big Boss).

The other day Big Boss suggested to me that X should be giving me more official credit in the firm' figures for work I do for a very large client (Big Client) that X originally introduced. I said that I knew, understood and accepted why X could not do that. Big Boss suggested that X should do so for the greater good of our Dept.

Yesterday (Sat) about lunchtime I received a multi-page ranting email from X accusing me of claiming to Big Boss that Big Client sends the vast majority of its new work to me and not X (I did not claim this as it is not true), how dare I demand that he hand over a slice of his hard-won practice to me, he's built it up over many years and I am waltzing in trying to take over, he takes all sorts of shit for me so that I don't get overwhelmed as a new partner, who do I think I am, he doesn't sleep nights for worrying about his files and clients and I have it easy, I have been saying things to clients that suggest he and I are fighting about credit for work - it goes on and on and on, ending hilariously with 'but don't think I don't appreciate what you do". I have never done or said any of these things, I frequently thank X for his support and I see myself very much as his trusted deputy. I enjoy being a partner but I am not rabidly ambitious and have no intention of usurping X who is only a few years older than me. I plan to sod off on maternity leave within about a year and probably come back part time, if at all.

X is known to be something of a paranoid worrier (part of the reason why the other partners in our Dept thought that promoting me to support him was a good idea). I normally get on pretty well with him. Big Boss, who I phoned immediately on the verge of tears, is adamant that he did not tell X that I was pushing for credit. Frankly, X's email comes across as unhinged. I am horrified that he has jumped to conclusions and not given me the benefit of the doubt, particularly as Big Boss is well known to have his own agenda whereas I am the least political player ever and X should, if he knows me at all, realise this. I am shocked that X felt the need to send a ranting email at the weekend instead of just talking to me on Monday - he's an experienced manager and should know much better than this. I haven't replied to X or forwarded the email to anyone else. I intend to have a meeting with X first thing on Monday morning. So the question is do I bother to engage in a point by point rebuttal of everything X accused me of, or do I express concern for his mental health? And how do we move forward from this?

KnackeredCow Sun 24-Nov-13 15:28:01

Do you think perhaps he's just feeling insecure, overwhelmed and stressed?

I think a face to face meeting, as you've suggested, is the best option. You say you've got on well in the past, so I really wouldn't be too confrontational. Could you go for a coffee off-site, for example? A point-by-point rebuttal will most likely escalate into an argument, as could expressing concerns about his mental health. He might see this as a bit presumptuous (whether it is or not).

He's obviously upset, and so are you. You have every right to feel this way. I would too. But perhaps the best strategy is to explore why he thinks these things, and to reassure him that you really aren't a threat. It could be that he's under stress and pressure from other sources, not necessarily work-related ones.

Good luck!

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Sun 24-Nov-13 15:38:47

That is very difficult. I have had a similar situation in the last couple of years but have no solution to suggest for you. I did speak to more senior people and gained some support, but my "X" continued to believe (and say) stuff about me and my motivations, even though it wasn't true. Our situations seem freakishly similar actually, even though we are in different lines of work.

Based upon my own experience, all I can really suggest is try and keep your dignity and seek support from where you can. It is extremely shocking when a colleague you thought you had good relations with suddenly does this. Sorry I can't be more helpful. sad Also, keep the email somewhere safe in case they try and say later on that you've made everything up...

JessieMcJessie Mon 25-Nov-13 19:21:36

Thanks both. I sent a v brief email on Sunday correcting one major misconception that seemed to be at the root of the rant. We were both v busy today so didn't talk for long but he apologised for getting"the wrong end of the stick" after his conversation with Big Boss and admitted he let his insecurity get out of control. Still a few things to discuss - we've put a meeting in the diary for later in the week- but air a bit clearer.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Mon 25-Nov-13 21:26:05

Well that's good news, hopefully you can move past this. I'd still advise you to keep the email though, because insecure people like this can allow their emotions to get out of hand, and should you need to seek support later on it helps to have hard evidence of the abusive (because that's what a ranting email outside work hours from a boss that accuses you of things you haven't done is) behaviour.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Mon 25-Nov-13 21:26:59

Well I didn't phrase that post very elegantly, but hopefully you get the gist grin

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