A coworker, who was supposed to be off-duty while I was filling in, was spying on me and talking about me to our boss behind my back.
How did you respond?
I asked the coworker to speak to me in private; which was the first step in taking back power. I told her that I’m aware of the gossip, that it’s not her job to report on me. I also initiated a phone conversation with my boss in which I said that the behavior was harassment and it was clear that she was playing favorites. It’s not my nature to call people out on their behavior like this, and when I was in the middle of it I felt very stressed, emotional, and threatened, but it felt very empowering to articulate what was going on to the people hurting me.
What were your takeaways in hindsight?
In hindsight I never want to be an employee again! But I learned that there is power in initiating meetings, whether you are the subordinate or the same level. I learned that there is also power in knowing the terms like “harassment” for common employee-employer lawsuits so that you can really put people on notice without just complaining, and I also learned to be aware that even people I’m helping or filling in for, could be terrible people, and unfortunately in that situation I had to keep separate records of my activities along with the good deeds I was performing for the company. It’s a horrible situation to be in to work under the pressure of knowing someone is watching you, just waiting for you to make a mistake. But it’s also a relief to call them out on that behavior.
Watercolor by Charlotte Goff http://www.charlottediane.com