How to deal with salty people at work?

I am typing this for someone else as they came to me for advice. My female friend, Miss Angel is a really good genuine person and a very comitted and hard worker. She started a new job 3 years ago at a client facing job. The boss has seen how good Miss Angel works and he constantly praises her and sets her as a good example, also gives her more responsibilities etc.

Another woman (Miss Jelaous) who has been at the company for 4 years is jealous of Miss Angel. Miss Angel has always been nice and kind to Miss Jealous. It has come to Miss Angel’s attention that Miss Jealous is directly and indirectly talking bad about Miss Angel. Basically trying to paint Miss Angel as a bad person and incompetent. Luckily the person she spoke with knew that everything Miss Jealous was saying was untrue so in confidence she informed Miss Angel. Miss Jealous has a bad aura so clients and boss praising Miss Angle bothers her!

Miss Jelaous has a loose tongue so who knows how many other people she has spoken to and how many people believe her lies!!!

Ideally my advice would be to go and speak to the boss. The problem is that the boss is leaving and a brand new boss has kind of already started. Miss Jealous is extremelly busy brown nosing the new boss and who knows what cooked up stuff she will start feeding him too.

Hopefully the new boss will see the reality but in real world I know things don’t always end up fair or right.

I was thinking suggesting that Miss Angel confront Miss Jealous but I am not sure Miss Jealous is smart enough to change her ingrained bad personality! If she had self realisation she would not be bitchy in the first place! Also she is bit of a drama queen so who knows how she will react!

What advice would you give Miss Angel?

Btw Miss Angel and Miss Jealous are at same job/title level although Miss Jealous acts like she is above Miss Angel and others in the same position.

Thanks for any advice.

Speak to your manager. Speak to HR. DO NOT confront anyone.

Couple of questions Nitro…

  1. Is the new boss male or female?
  2. What is the reason the old boss has left the group?
  3. Is Miss Jealous telling white lies or is she spreading miss information deliberately?

Depending on how sophisticated the HR review system is and if the new boss and the old boss communicating (which is rare), an experienced woke boss who knows how office politics works vis a vis productivity and morale will access these kinds of resources to measure the dynamics of the office and the team and then measure them against their own interactions with new reports. If he/she has access to personnel files, then Miss Angel’s reviews will tell him/her of her accomplishments and track record in the last 3 years. Same thing with Ms. Jealous’s file.

With any new boss, Miss Angel needs to establish rapport with them and take a proactive role in establishing herself under their new leadership. The new boss will be looking for information from the staff that explains the status of projects and where the team is headed. Miss Angel needs to become a source of intelligence for her new boss and build trust with them. Don’t ignore Miss Jealous, but keep an eye on her to see if her bad behavior changes or grows more acute. Confrontation between Miss A and Miss J will likely escalate any bad behavior form Miss J. Confronting a bully at work has legal ramifications in most countries. Keep careful notes and corroborate with colleagues to build alliances.

Competition among peers at work has both good and bad implications. The first 3 months with a new boss are critical.

Stay out of it.

I mostly agree with Dan.

Building on that, a competent boss will see through the BS. It’s true that sometimes they don’t see through it until people start quitting, but that’s the boss’s problem. I suggest (miss Angel) to keep doing good work and be a good team member and let other people (miss Jealous) sink or swim on their own. If it gets to a point that is not manageable, start looking for a new job.

+1 to Dan and Ray with a caveat.

If it’s become harassment… talk to HR immediately.

One thing she could do is go to the old boss for advice or ask the employee who tipped her off to go to the old boss.

In this event she could say to the old boss “this is happening, what should I do about it?”

His advice should be “don’t do anything, keep doing great work, and let me sort it out” at which point he should inform the new boss of the situation.

But in reality, it will likely sort itself out as long as Miss Angel keeps doing great work and hopefully the new boss recognizes that. It can be good to notify bosses of behavior like this though as sometimes they just don’t see it. I had an employee who was a really good brown noser and not the best co-worker. Usually I’m pretty good at spotting these kinds of things but I totally missed it in this case and I didn’t listen closely enough to the subtle tip offs from other employees. Once he was promoted it became evident and a bigger problem.

The thing with people who go around running their mouths about other people, spreading rumors or gossip or lies, is that they usually don’t end up with many friends or complicit parties, as the people they gossip to start to wonder if that person is also spreading lies about them as well. Many offices develop a core of these kinds of folks, who if they are marginally productive can exist for years, but in my 20 years of experience the BS gets sorted out, eventually.

Thanks everyone. I have forwared all the message to Miss Angel.

  1. New and old boss are both male
  2. No one truly knows. He will still work in a different office but 50% only, apparently he wants to reduce as he is in his late 50s. He was leading the company for last 20 years.
  3. I would class it as misinformation and bitchiness.

Miss Angel did say that she has decided to take a wait and watch approach while continuing to work hard and positively.

Documentation of a hostile workplace is best done at occurance. Saying something happened in the past without documentation of that incident has much less merit.

Best of luck to your friend Miss Angel in this tricky situation.

On a personal note, I suggest you reconsider using words like “bitchy” and “bitchiness,” regardless of context. To me at least, it says much more about the speaker than the subject.


+1 for me as well. Very good point.

I have never called anyone that directly or indirectly in real life. The term just fitted too well so I used it online here :slight_smile:

often talking unkindly about other people:

Still I take your point and agree so won’t use it even online.

It is in Miss Angel’s favour that Old Boss is still with the firm. They will no doubt confer on personnel issues up until the point they don’t.

Yes…using the word bitchy in a forum will get you feedback that is tangential to your inquiry…I see that no one picked up on my deliberate insertion of “miss information” to help describe the divide between male and female ways of communicating, or in your words “bitchiness”. The precise term would have been disinformation.

I don’t know if you are male or female Nitro, but as you probably already know, we now live in a gender divided workplace with 2 sets of rules that the HR department and the lawyers have to deal with on a day to day basis. Designers need to up their vocabulary in many ways in order to blend in with the rest of the divided herd. Somewhere in between we get to design great products.

This is an opportunity for miss angel to move up the “professional ladder” of applied behavior if she can hold her composure. Miss Jealous may hang herself with the rope she has been given…wait and see.

I fear your subtle cleverness is going over my head yet again!

Tell me more about the divide between male and female communication, the two sets of rules, and the divided herd-- I haven’t heard about this before.

I hope I didn’t miss any killer wordplay!

I’d say most people at a workplace already know who the ‘salty’ people are, and to ignore them. The new boss will probably see through her as well. It can be annoying, but it’s probably nothing you should pay too much attention to.

However, one option is to start by trying to politely defuse the situation with the person in question, saying “Hey, I have a feeling we started with the wrong foot, is there something we could do to make us work together better?”. This has sometimes helped me in pretty bad toxic situations, and sometimes I’ve asked some neutral co-worker to act as an arbitrator of sorts.

I agree that being confrontational doesn’t help, and it can make you seem unprofessional as well. If the situation goes bad, then the professional way would be to discuss it with HR or your boss.

Wow. That is a really mature response. I would think it would be difficult and even a bit scary but also the most likely to create a potential positive outcome for everyone. And if it doesn’t work then you know you tried your best.

My 2 cents, I just know that openly praising a person is not the right strategy, no matter how brilliant he or she is. It fuels toxic/conflict interactions. Rather praise the effort or work. In a way keeping things impersonal, active and constructive.

Being kind to Ms. Jealous and stopping to praise Ms. Angel (she’ll know how good she is if she is indeed good) may help to put out that fire.

Often these issues have to do with people getting uneven shares of attention. Once they understand that that’s not what it’s about (you’re at work!) these things will dissolve a bit.

The situation seems to have calmed down a bit. Miss Jealous came to Miss Angel for help with something in her private life and Miss Angel helped her unconditionally, so hopefully Miss Jealous has guilty conscience and behaves.

Although many people have said that Miss Jealous can be very nice when she needs something.

Still Miss Angel has decided to kill her with kindness :slight_smile: