Friday, October 3, 2008

Back to the Backstabbing

Well, this funny cartoon is really not completely accurate but as close as I could get to the actual situation....

Last week, I had a similar cartoon and forewarning that I was unsure if I wanted to write about a recent work incident with a back stabbing, two-faced, work colleague. If you cannot yet tell, I am still feeling a bit burnt, but a lot less sad and beat up then I was at the conclusion of work yesterday.

So my work turmoil all began in a meeting of four women, involved in the monitoring of a program and its subcontracts. Of the 4, including myself, are an assistant program manager, my supervisor, and a program control/financial analyst person. Concocting all of the necessary spells and potions that make the program and its subcontracts work and behave as they are supposed to, takes the four of us as a team. But one of the 4 in this coven were not acting of the same coven. (sorry I am feeling Halloweeny)

My program control/financial analyst who I will call SA has what I like to call, a "know-it-all" personality. She knows it all of course, but also likes to point it out when you may or may not know all, and of course likes to point out any mistakes that you may have made. Well, in our meeting of the 4, SA brings out a list of modifications that she claims that I have failed to update in my special database. She hands this list to me at our meeting of the 4 in front of my boss and the asst. PM. This may not sound as evil as it is, except for the fact that the meeting had to deal with re-checking the funding levels of the program that we work for, which has little to do with updating of the database. Furthermore, updating of this particular database is my responsibility and is actually one of the many points that my boss uses to make a decision regarding my raise and review. So basically, SA brought out an attention grabbing list of things she claims that I failed to do, directly in front of two other higher level people, without first checking with me about whether it was a simple mistake or some other reason.

Well, it turned out that some of the records that she claimed I failed to update, were in fact neglectful mistakes on my part, which my own boss also admits having similar cases of forgetfulness. However, some of the records she claimed I had failed to update were not at all my own failing. The records could not be updated because the signed documents were not yet received, or I had combined some of the records and she was off by the numbering, or there had not yet existed the time in one record to have a need to update because the record was so new. Basically, she did a half ass job of collecting information to bring me down, with half assed ammo.

Yesterday, everything came to head. I went to discuss something else with SA and actually complemented her work. She asked me to update her whenever I combined records, and I said I would, but that she could also just check the database, because that is why it is there. She of course then brought up my failure to make the updates. I asked if she had seen my follow-up post back stabbing meeting where I had written to the other 3 explaining how the lack of updating that she caught me in, was for some part, incorrect. She said she hadn't gotten to look over that email yet and then began to look over it with me right then.

More claims were thrown that I had not processed this and that and that I did not do this right. I went back to my desk and re-checked my files and brought back some evidence. I pointed out that I had forgotten to update the funding value in the particular record we were looking at and that I did however, add all the necessary information in the record that would get the answer anyone would need to proceed with any other work.

I have no problem admitting when I forget to do something by the way. This job has lots of holes, were one may begin typing and entering data and then the phone rings and you forget your place and what you were doing last and then Guess What.....the things do not get updated completely. I however, have further checks. Before I begin a new subcontract modification, I go back to the database and make sure all the info was updated correctly from the last modification. But, at this point yesterday, as well as the meeting last week, that internal check I perform had not occurred because no new subcontract mods had been issued. I guess, that may defeat the point in my asking her to check the database for information, because it may still be in that in-between time of where I began entering, but my final check had not been performed at the time she may be viewing it. But Hey! Even now I admit that my logic of asking her to review the database may have been faulted, but I do admit it.

Back to the part that makes SA truly two-faced and back stabbing, but more two-faced, at this point. I need to start by saying that I have thought SA was my friend, and although we have had some issues, I thought she would still act like somewhat of a friend, even when flustered. Boy was I wrong...

So, when I came back to her with the evidence that I had to show her that her claims of my wrongdoing were wrong themselves, as well as other misconceptions that she had, SA told me to go away and collect my thoughts and that she was not going to talk to me like this.

I admit, I may have been cocky when I brought back the evidence to show her, but as a friend described it in a similar situation with her, I was merely responding to her "know-it-all"ness and her arrogantness with a similar level. My voice was not raised. Nevertheless, I do feel guilty reacting in a similar way to a person at work.

After SA told me to go away and collect my thoughts, I stood behind her about 5 feet, trying to do just that...collect my thoughts. She then said, "Janet, you can stand there all day. I am not going to talk to you." I said, in as calmly a voice as I could, that I was collecting myself and calming down. You see, her reaction to me when I came to bring some sort of evidence to show that she was wrong, was the same reaction of the wasband and as I stood there, after being told to go collect myself, that is when I started to loose it even more, because I had felt threatened by her finding my faults, but I did not feel unwound. Having SA say to me to go collect myself made me want to scream or cry.

I thought to myself, as I stood there gripping the chair tightly, that this was silly and that I knew we'd have to continue working together. I pulled up a chair right next to SA and began to say that I wanted to explain myself and about why I might be feeling hurt by her attempting to call out my mistakes. I was going to explain how I thought the incident last week where she brought out a list of database entries that she thought I had failed to update. I was even going to point out how I had caught several of her mistakes that I had not brought to either her or her boss's attention. I wanted to tell SA that I just went ahead and fixed her blunders instead of making a big show of them because I realized that maybe she had just made a simple mistake. HOWEVER, before I could begin to let this emotional word vomit out, SA cut me off and said, "I told you I don't want to talk to you about this now." I responded by saying that I just wanted to say something that she would not need to respond, but just to listen. This was followed by an utterly hurtful comment that my boss described as unprofessional and just plain mean. SA said, "She did not want to even listen to me right now and that I should just go away." So, I did......

After talking over this situation with many a friend, my mom, my brother and my supervisor, I have decided to do what my friend did in a similar circumstance. Kill her with kindness. Not sarcastic kindness, but the kindness that is genuinely in my nature. My boss, however also decided to point out to SA one of the mistakes that I had recently pushed aside and corrected myself. My boss thought it necessary to do this not just to make a point that even, "know-it-alls" make mistakes too, but also because the mistake SA made was an auditable issue that looked as if we may have de-obligated funding under the same request because two companies were mistakenly listened on the same PR by SA.

My boss also asked me if I wanted to rearrange who I worked with so as to avoid SA. But I told her that I was going to stick to the killing with kindness. In fact, it was my job to bring in the bagels for our Bagel Friday and I made sure to bring an entire bag of SA's favorite. And no, I did not add any secret ingredients to them.....