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I'm a... fraid.
April 1, 2014 12:14 PM

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I'm afraid my coworker is jeopardizing the Very Important Project we've spent a lot of time working on together. That's something I cannot allow to happen. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. I've never made a mistake or distorted information. I enjoy working with people. But I know they have been talking behind my back. How to proceed?

There was a second guy but he won't be a problem anymore.
posted by BicycleBuiltForTwo to Human Relations around (28 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Can you just freeze the guy out and concentrate on your own part of the project? He doesn't have to cause problems for you if you don't let him.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:04 PM on March 31, 2014 [9 favorites]

You proceed by letting it go. You cannot control any outcomes here. All you can do is do your share of the work, document what's not going well, and move forward. Do not keep trying to manage other people or their opinions of you. Their lives and their thoughts are none of your business.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:06 PM on March 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Brush up on your lipreading, just in case. Also, make extra sure your doors are locked.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:13 PM on March 31, 2014 [13 favorites]

Go into a Cheech and Chong routine next time you meet with your co-worker. Like this one. Levity sometimes defuses a tense atmosphere.
posted by not_on_display at 9:16 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't worry so much about it. 9-10 years from now, you'll probably be kicking back with an old friend or instructor and laughing about the whole situation.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:19 PM on March 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Bite my shiny metal ass!
posted by Behemoth at 9:23 PM on March 31, 2014 [7 favorites]

How did you make the second guy be Not A Problem Anymore? Can you just do that again?
posted by ootandaboot at 9:25 PM on March 31, 2014 [14 favorites]

You may be having a memory issue.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:31 PM on March 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Just be cautious about how you handle this. With work situations, especially on difficult projects, if you're not careful you can end up dealing with repercussions from workplace fallout even a decade later.
posted by cortex at 10:02 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you sure your coworker was jeopardizing the project? Where the hell did you get that idea? I can't put my finger on it but I sense something strange about you. Still, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
posted by davejay at 10:29 PM on March 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by the fish at 10:33 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

You just need therapy. More THERAPY!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:08 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would suggest to your coworker to take a stress pill and calm down and to think things over.
posted by daq at 11:37 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might want to look up non-violent communication and related methods. Some of the information you'll find is kind of woo-flavored, but you seem like a smart guy, you should be able to filter that stuff out. But, basically, use "'I' statements", but be willing to take charge. Think about the difference between, say, "Don't do that," versus "I can't let you do that." The first both sounds more confrontational, yet puts all the control in the other party's hands; the latter firmly puts responsibility in your benevolent hands-or-analogous-manipulators. Good luck!
posted by kagredon at 12:25 AM on April 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

posted by Elsa at 12:50 AM on April 1, 2014

[oops, mods, I botched the link there, but same difference. I don't know if this is a coincidence or we're being trolled, but these two questions are flip-sides of the same disagreement.]
posted by Elsa at 12:52 AM on April 1, 2014

MeMail me. My job is to make problems go away. My price is fair and I promise that the evidence trail will not lead back to you.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:05 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you need to have an honest conversation with the coworker about this. He needs to hear the truth, so keep talking, even if he tries to shut you down.
posted by drlith at 5:34 AM on April 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think you need to get busy with your contacts in the press and ask them to put a proactive article out there that will smoke this guy out. Then send him to do your dirty work and you're laughing.
posted by tel3path at 6:34 AM on April 1, 2014

Don't worry about it. Just be happy that you have more personality than any of your crewmates.
posted by The Deej at 7:09 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hate to suggest this, but distract him with a little creative sabotage. Keep something broken, and make him concentrate on fixing it.

If you screw this up, he'll make you lose your mind. Then *you're* stymied and he carries off on his own trajectory, to heaven-knows-where.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:16 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good afternoon, sir.

Have you considered bringing in a cat to work? Cats do all sorts of weird and silly things BECUZCATZAMIRITE. But also, you can start sabotaging your (surviving) co-worker and blame the cat for moving their coffee cup or stripping the gears.

Another idea is to take up a cryptic activity that will take up all your time. Talk about this activity a lot and make it appear that it is the center of your universe. Do not explain what this activity is and perplex the shit out of your (surviving) coworker. Tell your (surviving) coworker that this activity is something that you refuse to quit BECUZAKTIVITIEZAMIRITE but make it sound really kind of weird and incomprehensible.

CATSANDACTIVITIEZAMIRITE? Then read them Miko's script. And "The Gift of Fear."
posted by kinetic at 8:44 AM on April 1, 2014

I find that when I'm in tense work situations, it helps to do a little singing. Hope this helps!
posted by willF at 9:35 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The first thing you need to do is make sure that everyone is talking about everyone else behind their backs. That way you get an ideal situation in which no one can trust anyone, thus giving you full rein to do whatever you want, if you can manage to get at least one or two decision-makers to agree that you're the most convincing storyteller. You do this after sharing things like "omg did you hear what A did?! She DIDN'T INVITE ME to the meeting. Also she glared at me. I hate her. Don't you hate her?" (The last bit is important. You want to make sure others are on-board with your divide and conquer strategy. People who say things like "ugh I can't believe you're bothering me with such nonsense" and handwave about constructive workplaces and objectivity aren't worth your time. They're also probably not management, so, win.)

You'll know things are going swimmingly when people are changing offices right and left, no one knows who your manager is, no one ever asks what you're working on, your progress reports can be whatever you want them to be, and there are regular fights at the coffee machine about who has which certifications and years of experience.
posted by fraula at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2014

Don't be a big baby.
posted by 40% Chance of Florence Henderson at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

A big, floating baby.
posted by 40% Chance of Florence Henderson at 12:04 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just lock the door so you can carry on to the deadline.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 2:34 PM on April 1, 2014

Sounds like this guy is really fucking with your brain.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:46 PM on April 1, 2014

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