Horrible work/confrontation situation � HELP!

(19 Posts)
AhoyMcCoy Thu 27-Feb-14 16:57:19

In my team at work, everyone gets on with each other well, apart from two women who generally hate their jobs, hate the rest of the team, make little effort with anyone, and don't have a very nice way of going about things. They make this all very clear. I am a massive people pleaser, and so these two women like me, and we will occasionally even have lunch together etc, and they take an interest in my life etc. I think they are nice people and like them on a personal level, albeit they are not very nice to work with.

Last week, the two women were whispering in the office together, and Team Leader said to them "It's not polite to whisper, can you please leave the office and do it outside. Have some manners" or something along those lines. The two women made a complaint about the way they were spoken to, and management asked the rest of the team individually what we thought of the situation. Everyone said Team Leader was reasonable, not aggressive etc, so manager informed the two women no further action would be taken with their complaint.

The two women huffed and puffed about this in an 'of course everyone would back up team leader, since they are her friends etc' way, and Manager said "actually no, I also asked AhoyMcCoy who is impartial and gets on with both sides, and she has said Team Leader was reasonable."

These two women cornered me at lunch today. I wish I could explain how intimidating I sometimes find them, and how aggressive they can be, but I'm utterly useless in confrontation, and when they said to me "I can't believe you didn't back us up, that's so rude, you heard how she spoke to us" etc, I froze and just sort of stuttered along the lines of "I didn't really realise what I was being asked, I just sort of nodded along, I wasn't asked formally just in a chatty way" and tried to weasel out of it.

I spoke to manager after and told her they had confronted me, which put me in an awkward situation, explained how much I hate any form of confrontation, and explained that I'd really tried to minimise what I had said, and that I wanted nothing more to do with it if possible. Manager is lovely and understanding - I'm 6 months pregnant and after previous miscarriages am terrified of any stress etc, and said she would keep me out of it all.

Two women then went BACK to manager. Accused her of lying, of not conducting a proper investigation etc. Manager has said she will escalate this to someone independent to prove she conducted a fair investigation, but I can just picture it will end up in a meeting with the two women, me and manager, and I'll have to admit that I gave manager the original statement, then tried to deny this to the two women etc etc etc.

I can't explain how much this is all upsetting me - there is no way out of this for me where everything is good and no-one gets upset, and I get along with everyone. The 'best' thing to do would be for me to turn round to these two women and just say "yes, like EVERYONE ELSE in the office I thought Team Leader was reasonable. Sorry you don't see it that way", but I can't. When these two women are mad, you know about it. They will literally not speak a word to you, will stare straight through you, making barbed comments etc.

I know this is insanely long and childish - it's partly ranting and partly just a big WHAT DO I DOOOOO? It's going round in my head 24/7. Can't wait for my maternity leave to get away from it all TBH.

Kernowgal Thu 27-Feb-14 18:11:52

I would be really pissed off at your manager for saying it was you she asked. That should have been confidential. It all sounds like school playground behaviour to me, and you've been dragged into it because your manager is unable to stand up to them.

AhoyMcCoy Thu 27-Feb-14 21:07:34

YY, it's all very childish/school playground stuff. The two women are quick to complain about anything really and always have their union members behind them, so manager just feels a bit battered by it relentlessly I think. I don't really care, I just don't want to be in the middle.

I think if it goes any further/if there is any actual 'investigation' into who said what, then I think I'll try and say I'm not saying anything further and refuse to get involved. It really is causing me so much stress, I burst into tears as soon as I walked out of work today! Refusing to get involved is possibly even a bit too assertive for me, but the only other option is to 'side' with one, which I don't have the guts to do. I think it will be easier in the long run to say to either side or an investigator "unfortunately I refuse to get involved or say what did/didn't has/hasn't taken place. This will need to be resolved without me, it's causing me too much stress" etc.

BrownSauceSandwich Thu 27-Feb-14 21:43:47

That's a horrible position to be put in, and was pretty shit of the manager to mention your name to these women. I really sympathise with your people-pleaser tendencies, but this is all evidence that you can't please all the people all the time. And I have to tell you, I think you're wrong when you say this pair are nice people... Nice people don't gang up to give a pregnant woman a bollocking!

Here's the thing, if I were investigating an incident like this, I'd find it pretty weird if an eye-witness refused to speak to me about it, BUT there's no way they should expect you to make a statement in front of ANY of the parties concerned, and I bet they won't even ask that. Could you bring yourself to talk to them privately and in confidence? Make that the condition of your assistance. After all, the more thoroughly this situation is addressed the more likely you are to end up with peaceful workplace.

LondonForTheWeekend Thu 27-Feb-14 21:49:31

I am a massive people pleaser,

Here is your problem. Keeping your head down has just made it worse.
People who aren't people pleasers just don't 'Get' people who are at all. It is incomprehensible to them that you would not just shrug and go "Come on, you know she was right"

LondonForTheWeekend Thu 27-Feb-14 21:52:55

I don't mean to harp on, but if this is genuinely causing you this level of stress/distress you really really need to address that properly through counselling/assertiveness training/something

AhoyMcCoy Thu 27-Feb-14 21:59:32

Yes, but even talking in private to an investigator (if that's where it ends up) is pointless. Because by default it's not private anymore - it is only my word that makes a difference to this complaint. The ladies are complaining about two things now 1) the way they were spoken to & 2) That they felt an investigation was one sided and unfair. If I tell an independent investigator I think they were spoken to reasonably and had told manager this in her investigation, then the the two ladies will know that the outcome of the investigation is that manager did everything correctly, thereby implying manager HAD asked me & I did say that, IYSWIM.

The two women are basically saying it's not fair to take anyone else's account of the incident, as they will side with team leader, and they will insist only my view should be listened to. But my view is that they are over reacting - I just can't tell them this without them hating me!!

I agree they might not be the nicest women (and are quite open about being "it's about looking after their own interests first and foremost" sort of thing), but honestly, if I got on their wrong side, it would make work unbareable. It would be like the cool girls at school hating you.

I think if it ramps up at all and I have to do/say anything else I'll call in sick until it dies down. That, and I'm going to look into taking an assertiveness course. I've made things far tougher for myself in the long run by being a pushover at work.

AhoyMcCoy Thu 27-Feb-14 22:03:49

London xposts there, but yes, will take assertiveness training. My company actually sent round an email a few weeks back advertising it as one of the courses they offer, but at the time I was too embarrassed to ask my manager for the time off to attend it!

And yes, it is definitely my people pleasing tendencies that have got me this far. Every time the women rant about anything I just nod and make agreeing "mmm" noises, and because I don't outright disagree with them, they will genuinely think I agree with them because I don say otherwise.

TheCrackFox Thu 27-Feb-14 22:06:44

Do you work for quite a big company?

Hopefully, by the time you come back from maternity leave these two chancers will have been split up and working in different departments.

LondonForTheWeekend Thu 27-Feb-14 22:10:10

"it's about looking after their own interests first and foremost"
Yes, and you have to do that too. Tell the investigation the truth and tell them that you did the same as they would (ie not sabotage themselves). The consequences of tying yourself in knots trying make this go away are much worse than just taking your position and sticking to it. So what if they bitch [shrug]

AhoyMcCoy Thu 27-Feb-14 22:12:35

Yeah work in local government, so huge company. The two of them have been making it really clear they are looking for other jobs etc, and would rather work anywhere but there. I'm really hoping they go soon, it would be so peaceful if I'm not always piggy in the middle and having to listen to their constant problems with management, it would be such a peaceful place to work!!

callamia Thu 27-Feb-14 22:16:53

The bizarre thing is that it should have nothing to do with what YOU think of the situation. This is an issue between your manager and those two women - you and your thoughts shouldn't even come in to it.

I'm sorry that you're being dragged in, but I suggest that you remove yourself from all the fuss and ask not to be involved. It seems strange that you are being asked to 'judge' your own boss's behaviour in this way - it would only ever be awkward for you, regardless of whose friend you are.

Being a people pleaser definitely has its disadvantages, and is often seen as an excuse to take advantage of good nature. These women can only make your life hard if you let them. Don't be cowed by them ganging up, keep doing whatever you want to do. If they think hectoring you is ok, then they're not the nice people you thought them to be. They sound like they need to bloody grow up.

winkywinkola Thu 27-Feb-14 22:20:34

People pleaser just sounds cowardly to me.

I can so understand your anxiety about miscarriage but would you be the same if you weren't pg?

Deeply unprofessional for your name to be mentioned. Will you call her on that or just hide?

It's really up to you. Stand up and state your position as you've unfortunately been forced to or take sick leave.

It's hard for you. But you can't constantly dodge this one it seems.

Oh I hate people like this ! always bitter older women (not meaning to offend anyone).
I would just say, if questioned by manager 'I have said all I'm going to say on the matter. I now just wish to concentrate on my work, and in future please do not mention my name in incidents like these as it puts me in an awkward situation.' Or something to that effect.
If 2 horrible women try to question you again, just state you wish to concentrate on your work.
Hard, I know. they sound like total cube fraus (google that). Nasty, bitter, lonely women. I bet they smoke heaps and b!tch about their daughter in laws too.

It's perfectly normal in an investigation to get statements from eye witnesses to the behaviour.
OP I really think you should stand up to these women - say you feel that the manager acted professionally and reasonably in the situation and you are sick of being caught in the middle. Any fall out from this needs to be reported to your manager as VICTIMISATION (use that word - it means something different from bullying).
What's your set up. Are you in an office on your own with the 2 women?

ooh actually I am wrong - victimisation seems to only apply to complaints of discrimination which doesn't apply here.
Huge apologies.
Still think any fall out should be reported as bullying

fromparistoberlin Fri 28-Feb-14 08:22:51

these 2 women need

verbal warning
written warning
then if they dont comply, P45

why on earth are they beikng allowed to work this way when they hate their jobs, dont perform and behave unprofessionally

OP you are to go on maternity leave very soon. but I would be asking your disclinary manager and HR to get this sorted

its WORK so suiggest you stop being "friends" with these women, and be more assertive

their behaviour is disgusting and professional

what sector are you in may I ask??

Geoff0409 Sun 02-Mar-14 02:27:20

Hi AhoyMcCoy , I really feel for you. We have people at my work who do nothing but complain about things and yet they never do anything about it. Even the upper management are absolute cowards when it comes to anything remotely confrontational and will do anything to deflect the blame onto someone else. Unfortunately there's a lot of them out there. Please don't try to please everyone all the time. It is not only not worth it, it is impossible. I am not popular at work at all - currently doing my share of being treated like I am at the bottom of the pile - but applying for other jobs to try and get away from there. My Mum says I have always been the same - that basically if you like me then fine, and if you don't then I don't care really, that's your problem. I am not happy at work at all but it does make it a tiny bit more bearable. I think sometimes a "whatever" attitude is fine as long as you remain professional and work hard.

kickassangel Sun 02-Mar-14 02:51:27

Would it help you to write out a statement that you would be willing to hand to a third person (if anyone else even cares enough to look into it, it could well all fizzle out to nothing).

Just state the facts, then at the end, put a very clear statement that you are being asked to arbitrate a difficult situation, this is causing you stress, and after numerous miscarriages you refuse to be any further involved for the sake of you and your baby's health?

Then have that with you, so you can just hand it to someone. Nobody is going to be so stupid as to push you further if they know that. It also leaves you free to say nothing.

I strongly suspect that if the manager tries it refer I to she will have very little support as this is such a big deal about nothing.

Best of luck with the pregnancy. Be kind to yourself and try to relax.

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