About a year ago, our office was relocated into a larger department. It was a tight squeeze for us all, but I made what I thought were some new friends. It was nice to be able to socialize with women my own age, rather than the four women in my immediate group who treated me like a child. We would go to happy hour or over to each other’s houses for get-togethers and it was beginning to feel like I had a real group of friends at work.
Eventually, there was a management change and our group was able to move out of the tight space into a larger office on the other side of campus. It was bittersweet, because I would miss my friends, but it meant a lot more perks (each of us would get our own office, better parking, etc.). I tried to keep in touch with the group, but soon fell out because their meet ups were now beginning to take place on Fridays and I usually reserve my weekends to spend with my husband who travels during the week. It hurt to be left out, but I understood why because I hardly ever attended any thing they put together anymore.
Most of my communications with the group was via email and over an office messenger (an instant messenger system). One woman from a department whose supervisor openly did not like mine and vice versa and I were chatting online one day. I was noting how the management change worked out for us, and said something like I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more restructuring before it was all said and done. Having been through a few of these situations in corporate life, it was very banal to say, almost like saying the sky was blue. New boss means change, that’s a fact of life.
Well, a few days later, my boss called a staff meeting. Apparently, the warring boss called him out during a meeting, accusing his “team” of being privvy to more information than hers about the potential upcoming changes. She used my statement to my friend almost verbatim to my boss, which he repeated to us. It was taken out of context by her to assume we knew something she didn’t about changes that would happen. Of course, he was livid, both with her because of such an accusation, but also with us for gossiping. He said if he found out who the responsible party was, they would be fired. I was shocked.
I realized that this “friend” was sharing from our conversations information directly with her boss, with whom she is rather close. Not that I had said anything earth shattering, but it was taken out of context, blown way out of proportion and used against my boss and the rest of our team. I was crushed. I had thought this person was my friend, but clearly that’s not the case. Even if she hadn’t deliberately done this, which I doubt, her boss is then monitoring her private conversations and using that information to her advantage.
Eventually this woman was removed from her management position by the new supervisor. The reasons were not disclosed, but she was essentially cut off at the knees and went from managing a department of about 15 people to not even having an administrative assistant. I imagine it has been a long time coming, but her outburst at the meeting where she accused my boss didn’t do her any favors. It was sad to see someone be demoted in such a way, but she was truly an inefficient manager and had a bad reputation for being difficult to work with.
At any rate, a few weeks ago, I got an invitation from the happy hour group, which I declined. I then messaged the woman who organizes the group, the one I felt closest to, and let her know what had happened and why I won’t be associating with the woman who was leaking information. I did so without disclosing specifics, but said that I’d be careful if I were her because if this happened to me, it can happen to others.
She wrote back seemingly very sympathetically. Her email seemed to take my side and was just as disgusted with the situation. I didn’t expect her to take my side, but wanted her know why I’m removing myself from the group. She understood, and asked to hang out with me privately instead. Although we weren’t able to connect in person, I’d seen her a few times around and things seemed fine.
Yesterday I get a message from the woman I’m angry with. My friend had shared the content of my email with her. She of course flat out denied the charge, then got all angry with me for thinking she would do something like that. Um, what? So after some nasty exchanges via messenger, I said that I couldn’t believe a word she said, and had nothing further to discuss on the matter. I signed off, so I could get back to work.
She then started blowing up my cell phone with text messages. I decided to let it go for a while, because I was starting to become angry and didn’t want to say things I would regret. I messaged her back later that evening to say I don’t expect an explanation, since she won’t own up to it anyway. I said either you gave this information to her directly or her so-called friend is monitoring your IM conversations. It’s dangerous for me to interact with her and I can’t risk losing my job. I’m happy to maintain a cordial working relationship with her but nothing more.
She wrote back a few minutes later saying that she could respect my decision, but got another dig in because I didn’t go to her directly. I didn’t respond. I knew I was being baited and wasn’t about to be dragged into a text war. She wanted to have the last word, and she got it.
The reason I didn’t go to her directly was that I now knew she was dangerous. If someone takes your wallet, do you go back and ask them why they did it, do you? No, you simply don’t go anywhere near them anymore and take better care of your stuff. Not that I feel like I owe her any explanation, if anything she owes one to me. Had I realized that she was only using our friendship to feed her boss information, I would never have been so eager to hang out with her and make a new friend.
About a week after this happened, the woman who took my email to the other started emailing me as though nothing happened. At first she was just responding to official business emails with non-business pleasantries. I ignored those. Then she texted me, which I also ignored. I suppose that’s the M.O. around here, just act like you’ve done nothing wrong and make me seem like the crazy person. I’d like to think that she’s figured it out, perhaps a guilty conscious could begin to weigh on her, but not likely.
Then, this morning, I had a friend tell me he had overheard another person in our department talking about me, disclosing very private information I had shared with her and asked her to keep secret to someone that she shouldn’t have. The person she was telling has done horrible things to me in the past and uses information against people, even tries to have people fired. I’m just worn out at this point. I suppose that considering every betrayal I’ve experienced, I should just keep my mouth shut and that the disclosure was partly my own fault.
I’m never sure whom I can trust, always wanting to expect people to do right by me, as I would with them. Often, however, I’m just let down because some people are simply just not trustworthy. It is unfortunate, because I feel like I have no allies, and that people are just as happy to stab you in the back for a bit of juicy gossip.