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Butting heads

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

I’ve been warning my colleagues about a senior vice president at our firm who’s a weasel. This guy (let’s call him Bill) was hired last year from a failed competitor. I don’t know what our CEO saw in Bill.

Anyway, Bill likes to pit people against each other. He loves malicious gossip. He’ll say to me, “You know, Ernie thinks you’re overbearing” while telling Ernie, “You know, Wes can’t stand to work with you.”

It’s up to Ernie and me to work through all this. And we do.

Last week, Bill confronted me in my office. With fake respect, he asked, “Is this a good time?”

Just as I was about to wave him away, he plunged in. “I don’t mind if you don’t like me,” he said. “But must you be such a divisive force? Can’t you understand when you go around trashing me behind my back, it’s more a reflection of you than me?”

At that instant, I knew someone I trusted had betrayed me and told Bill that I called him a weasel (or something worse). But I didn’t feel like apologizing for pointing out Bill’s true colors.

“Whether I like you or not isn’t relevant,” I shot back. “You’ve turned people against each other. That’s not conducive to fostering trust and teamwork. And your actions have been counterproductive in other ways.”

Instead of asking for examples (which is what I expected), he seemed miffed that I didn’t apologize or at least admit to badmouthing him. He sighed and stormed out of my office while shaking his head in disgust.

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