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My peer, my rival

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Michelle, a vice president at a global drug company in Massachusetts, disusses her run-ins with a scheming colleague:

I’ve worked with another vice president, Stella, for the last few years. We get along fine.

Lately, she has begun to act as my unofficial spokesperson within the company. She goes around saying these ridiculous things about me to our CEO and our big customers. What she says isn’t exactly slander. It’s subtler than that.

For instance, one of our top executives quit last week. I liked and admired him. A few days later, I stayed home with a bad back.

When I checked my voice mail, I got all these messages from people saying, “Michelle, I understand this must be tough for you” and “Please call me if you need someone to talk to.”

I started to wonder what was going on, so I returned one of the calls and asked a colleague, “Why so worried about me?”

He told me that Stella had been spreading the news that I was distraught over the executive’s res-ignation—and that’s “the real reason” I called in sick!

In another example, Stella and I were collaborating on a project. She didn’t do a good job on her piece of the project—and she knew it. She kept asking me, “What do you think of my work on this?”

I kept trying to tell her politely that it wasn’t up to snuff. But she kept replying, “I’m just glad you think it’s okay.”

Then I hear she’s telling everyone, “Michelle looked this over and said it was good.” She made her poor work seem like my problem!

Should I confront her? I think that might make things worse.


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