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Problems with co-workers; would a confrontation help?

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I'm currently having problems at work. I work in a chemistry group and our group have 2 labs, one which I, 2 girls and a guy work in and one which 2 guys work in. The two girls and one of the guys in the other lab have huge problems with me. They have a history of bullying others before me, the problem is the guy that got bullied before me had it coming. He was a jerk. I'm not, I just work really hard and get a lot done, which irritates the two girls. They are lazy and quite close to getting fired. I was put on a project as an assistant one of those girls and ended up accomplishing more in 8 months than she did in 2 years. The others I work with are on my side and think that the reason for this is racism, they get a little of bullying themselves for no apparent reason, but I get the bulk of it.



The guy downstairs particularly is angry with me and he is the person I'd like advice on. He's a very good chemist, so our supervisor likes him a lot. I'm new, so I make mistakes here and there, which is what these people pick on. The thing is, he doesn't work with me, so even if I make mistakes, they have no effect on him whatsoever. None.



He's been making up stories about me "Oh, I can't any __________, Lily (me) must've stolen them!" or "Lily spilled oil all over the place and didn't clean it up", etc.. These things are fully false and there are concrete proof (such as, I didn't have access to his lab until recently and eye-witnesses). Now, he's leaving hostile comments for me in public. He visibly looks angry whenever I come around. I want to talk to him, because I want the hostility to stop. I also would like to know if I'm doing something wrong.


I was thinking about emailing him, asking him for his time this coming Tuesday. Then, I will tell him that I've heard him talking smack and saw his less-than-friendly comments (written) about me in public. I would like to address them and find out what I'm doing to make him so angry, because I would like to know so that I could make this work place better.



Do you think this would yield the desirable outcome? I'm worried that it could escalate things instead. I have been documenting what I can, so that I could go to my supervisor if needed. However, I am new and therefore, most prone to mistakes. He's good at his job, he's good looking and charismatic. I also know how people feel when someone yells racism. My work place is predominantly white, it's not likely to go in my favour unless I have very compelling, indisputable evidence.

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That's tough. I would just go straight to the supervisor first, and if that doesn't fix anything then I would go to the Department Head.


Confronting the source will just inevitably make things awkward, and it has happened to me. This guy was making a lot of racial remarks etc putting customers and the town we work in down. I confronted him and he tried to belittle me instead of respect what I was asking him to do nicely. I called the Manager and HR. We to this day don't talk, he has been written up and is probably on his way out of the company.


So I know the awkwardness and the frustration of the situation your in, and especially since you know this person tries to belittle you to everyone. That is why you should steer clear of a face to face confrontation and let the people in charge make the environment a better place to work in, especially if you are in fact wrongfully accused and doing your job.

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mmm, as a career counsellor who trains university students to enter the professional work force (including labs), I always tell my students the first step is to confront the person FiRST. Do NOT go over their heads until you have tried to work it out with the individual first.

So, tell the person, "we are clearly having some issues here and I really want to try to work with you to resolve them...can we meet to try to discuss this?"

Hopefully he'll agree. When/if you do meet, stick with the "I" statements. Not You...as in, do not start pointing the finger and say you are doing this, you are doing that....you cannot ASSUME his thoughts and/or intentions, right? BUt you can speak to how you are feeling, how YOU interpret things..and let him then respond. Stay professional at all costs. Take the high road. Hopefully you can get to the real source of the issue...


If this doesn't work, then yes, go to your supervisor, absolutely. But knowing you DID at first try to deal with it directly with him. Documentation is good if you need to go to a higher up.


Best of luck!


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I don't know that confrontation will do much good, but having a written record of your attempt to resolve this issue with him will help boost your case if you need to go over his head.


I'd email him something about wanting to resolve some apparent miscommunication, Leya suggested some good wording. If he refuses via email that's fine, if he accepts then you should prepare to discuss some specific incidents with him so it doesn't sound like you're making blanket accusations.


It's highly possible that one of the incompetent employees is making mistakes or taking supplies and blaming it all on you. For that reason alone I'd try to approach him from the perspective that he's being fed misinformation, not that he's necessarily out to get you. I also think using value-neutral terms like 'surprised' (as in, "I was surprised to read your comments") as opposed to 'shocked,' 'disheartened', 'disappointed' etc will help you avoid sounding like you're blaming him. The lack of value judgments in turn should improve his receptiveness to hearing you out.


Good luck!

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