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Reading my co-workers' e-mails…

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The mid-size company that I work far is not super tech savvy and the head of IT gives everyone a login password jokingly based on their name (for example, if a guy’s name is Harry, his password is Potter) that lasts their entire tenure. My boss and one co-worker readily share their password to everyone in the department in case they need to get a file from their e-mail. I have two co-workers (I’ll say co-worker A and co-worker B) who are super tight-knit and somewhat difficult. They mentioned their passwords years ago in conversation about the craziness of the password system. Because I have a really good memory, I’ve remembered.


About five months ago I desperately needed a file, so I logged into co-worker A’s e-mail was shocked to find that she had been e-mailing mean things about me to co-worker B. I’m pretty young and received a promotion last fall, and apparently they started backstabbing me. My boss and I get along fabulously and because I’m gregarious and easy going, I’ve made a lot of great relationships in the company and won several awards. Anyway, I went through a horrible break up around that time, and because at the time co-worker B acted like my friend, I told him things about my personal life, not knowing that he had turned on me after the promotion. He apparently told co-worker A and was making fun of me and they said that I was unprofessional, blah blah. They also said I was “loud and yappy,” which I admit, I can be loud and do try to control it. Anyway, after I found this out, I stopped talking to them about personal things and kept my distance, learning my lesson about drawing the lines between co-workers and friends.


However, I couldn’t help but look at their e-mails and a preemptive way to protect myself from things they might do. For example, co-worker A asked me to go to lunch one day. She said I had to go. Then she wrote co-worker B an e-mail saying that she hopes it didn’t ruin their lunch plan, but I had asked to join them. He wrote back that said, fine, she’s stealing my lunch partner, you just go with her. She wrote back, “I’’M NOT GOING ALONE WITH HER!” Ridiculous. If I hadn’t checked the e-mail, I’d have no clue this was going on because they’re super nice to my face.


Anyway, when checking the e-mails, I found out that co-worker A is having an affair and frequently e-mails and texts the also married individual. A few times she has pushed off work on me because of “appointments,” which I know from reading the e-mails are meetings with this guy. She spends hours texting and e-mailing him – and yet I’m the unprofessional one.


What do I do?? I know it’s wrong to look and their e-mails and I’m not proud of it, yet I want to protect myself. I’d call them out, but yet I don’t want them to know how I get this information.

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Since it's not in your job responsibilities to read other people's emails I'd keep it to yourself. It would be a great way for you to get fired if your boss finds out you used your knowledge of the password to snoop in other people's accounts.


Let your boss worry about the other employee. That's their job.

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At work many people are nice nice to your face and stab you in the back..especially when they feel threatened because you are getting promoted, are smarter, more successful etc. There is always office politics and backstabbing. It is very very wrong of you to look through their emails. This woman's affair is none of your business. You know what these two are like so just be professionally cordial and that's it. Do not continue to read their emails. People at work always gossip and talk about others..that's just life.

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Well I think you've already handled it right? You said you are distancing yourself from her and not revealing any personal things. That's still the best course of action. Just do your job, work professionally with them, and go on with life. You can't control what people say about you behind your back.

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considering they use any info they can against you, i woudln't confront them with this, b/c they can turn it around on you saying that you used your knowledge of their passwords for your personal gain (ie to dig up info on others). Don't do a thing. Remain neutral as you have been and continue doing your job to the best of your ability. Kill them with kindness; they would love for you to confront them so they can continue their gossip. Don't do anything at all. And remember to not use your email for anything but professional stuff, just in case someone's looking in on you too.

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yeah, my natural urge would be to forward the emails around the office--i am glad i know already that i am not the smartest.


the posts above are correct.

i would suggest continuing the way you have been after all you got promotion.


is the nastiness confined to personal issues, not interfering with your work?

i would quietly look in on their emails once in a while.


if you need a little revenge i would say you already have it.

continue to be good at your job. another promotion would really be great revenge.

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I think just ignore it and let it go.


It seems they're simply jealous of your promotion. Just be cordial and forget about them.


I find co-workers are just that; people with whom you work closely with. I think because of the competitive nature of work, there is no true friendship in the workplace.


And I agree with others here - do NOT tell your boss about reading your co-worker's e-mails. First, you would probably get fired on the spot for breaching company regulations (and you just got a promotion, which would compound the problem), and secondly as you are in a position of authority you'd be expected to know better. Higher persons in a firm should really set examples for employees lower down in the structure.

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Well, you know, you shouldn't have done it but... Ms A and Mr B sure do sound like a pair of airheads. As for your IT Dept doesn't sound too impressive.


I wouldn't keep accessing their emails. One day you might find out something you really don't want to know. For some reason, my boss chose to confide in me that they were making a personal friend of mine redundant 6 months ago, and it's been horrendous knowing what was going to happen and not being able to do anything about it.


However... You say Ms A bails out on some of her work, giving it to you when she has these 'appointments'. Are you on a level playing field with Ms A or is she above you in the pecking order? If she isn't, I'd be showing some friendly concern about those 'appointments'. Flaming cheek!

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