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Protecting myself against coworker's accusations

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  1. #1

    Unhappy Protecting myself against coworker's accusations

    Professionally speaking, how should I protect myself from my coworker's (CW) constant accusations and her refusal to believe me when I am trying to correct her. I am new to the workforce, recently graduated, and am trying really hard to work with this woman. My manager (M) doesn't seem to want to deal with our "small quarrels" but I honestly find it to be extremely disrupting to my work. We are a three-man team (me, CW and M) and it is hard for me to find someone to confide my troubles with.

    CW has began to constantly blame me for things. Incidences include:

    1. Blaming me for deleting her work when we were on a deadline and she left early (2:00 - 3:00 pm) on those days to be with her children during summer holidays. I specifically wrote on the email of the new version of the file (which was still a working draft and had to be changed because my manager asked me to) that it was a complete overhaul and I needed a lot of feedback on it.
    2. Blaming me for deliberately switching two paragraphs (i.e. A, B was B, A) on a working draft on a pamphlet that I had spent hours working on at home until late at night because the design/IT team that we asked to help us out was too slow and did a horrible job. We were also on a tight deadline because of CW leaving to Beijing in two days. All she did was translate the written text that I had wrote out from english to chinese.
    3. Blaming me for sending out the design that I worked on prematurely and telling me that I couldn't send out our internal work within our group to other members (the design/IT team) until CW and M double-checked it. This was said while she was meeting up with the design/IT team changing stuff around without my or M's knowledge.
    4. Not sending me what I have requested. I asked her to send me the chinese text file of the pamphlet that she made amendments to so that I could copy and paste it easily. She emails back and says its 'easier to talk face-to-face'. I tell her that I understand but require the text because I can't type chinese and that it'll be easier for me this way. She still won't send me the text. I get into the office and try to explain it to her and she gets mad at me for "talking to her like a child". She also brings up all the previous mistakes I've done, reminds me of the paragraph switch. I end up telling her to do the chinese pamphlet herself and that I don't want to involved with her "work" anymore.
    5. Refusing me to believe me even when I had physical evidence. So we are working with various partners from around the world. This particular partner is a professor at a certain university but also acts as a director for a division at a hospital. Initially we, CW and I, thought he would representing the university but 3 months ago we received an email (that CW received to which I was cc'd) from him that specified that he would be representing the hospital instead. On the chinese version of the pamphlet, CW lists both his name and university as one of the partners affiliated with our project. I tell M about the mistake, to which she asks CW about it. M believes CW that it is the university but I forward the email proof showing that it was incorrect. CW still refuses to believe me and writes "Yes, long time ago he emailed me about changing his organization to ----. sorry I was not able to find his original email.".

      The pamphlet has already been distributed to various people and it shocks and annoys me that these people don't care that they're putting someone elses name and wrong information to other people.

    I am really sick and tired of being blamed for things. CW has done things, made mistakes to which I have not constantly pointed out or have gotten mad at her for. For example:
    • Mistook our partners name
    • Mistook our partners country
    • Sent my work to one of our partners without consulting me or M and it wasn't to the right country
    • Sent emails out to the English-speaking partners when, on the previous day, we had decided to split the workload to me communicating with them and CW communicating with our chinese partners.
    • Decides to go to a conference in Beijng. M told me that she just decided to go on her volition. Apparently M is allowing to reimburse her hotel fees or something. i really don't know what's going on.
    • Not following up on an email. She sends email to one partner, goes somewhere without me knowing, comes back and I ask her if she sent a reply. She says no and expected me to reply because "she wasn't here". She never communicated to me that she was going somewhere and needed me to reply to the email thread that she started with our partner.

    I have bought a voice recorder to record any of our conversations so that she won't be able to use anything against me anymore. I am also saving all the email conversations between us. What else can be done? Should I move onto a new job? What are your experiences with dealing with difficult coworkers?

    Thank you for reading about my troubles. I am feeling extremely down lately and quite scared of my coworker. I feel that my manager won't do anything to help me or keep my coworker in check. My CW is hypocritical and making it impossible to work together. M sat us down and gave us an ultimatum - we either work together or one of us leaves. I am starting to think it is not worth staying, mentally, and financially as I am getting paid around 16k while my CW is getting paid more than me. I believe I am a capable, fast-learning and hard working worker but am being held back by this circumstance.

    Please be frank and hard with me. I am just starting out and want to a reality-check.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Hong Kong

    Welcome to work life in Hong Kong, backstabbing, politics, half-arsed work, poor work ethics, status quo, and no accountability. Next time try to see if you can have a chat with people and see what the culture is like.
    My advice is to get out asap and see if you can find a better environment, then constantly be looking for a better opportunity (if company culture is not great).

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Happy Valley

    Get out and consider to look for a job where you are alone. While this sounds like a bad environment, you do sound overly sensitive to me.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Sounds terrible and a no-win situation for you.

    As others have said, find another job and make sure you stitch her up completely when you leave. Be creative.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Agree with DeletedUser, get out if you can.

    If you can't and need to stick it out for whatever reason, document EVERYTHING.

    Always get things in writing via email so that there is a trail.

    If the conversation is verbal, follow it up with an email to confirm what was spoken about.

    Record all incidents with timelines, actions taken (or not taken), parties involved and back up with documentation.

    Best you can do it cover your ass so that if the shit hits the fan and they try to pin on you, you have enough to protect yourself.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Nep:
    Get out and consider to look for a job where you are alone. While this sounds like a bad environment, you do sound overly sensitive to me.
    This is true, I am overly sensitive. After the first incident I thought I was being too sensitive against all her accusations. The problem is that my coworker tries to halt our work (i.e. she disrupts work and makes a big deal out of it) and then my work starts to pile up. I have no clue what she is doing half the time and she has spent almost 3 months working on the same thing while I have completed several tasks. I have this feeling that as I am in a lower position than her she will not listen to anything that I say and I must keep to my rank. To me it feels like I am watching a car crash happening in slow motion. My attempts to stop it is being thwarted.

    But any advice to toughen up and stop being overly sensitive will help me greatly.

  7. #7

    Thank you for the fast replies everyone. Seems like the consensus is that it would be better for me to find a new job. They say that the grass is greener on the other side, but I think I am still young enough to find out whether or not is truly is. I'm sure I'm not flawless either but the politics in this environment seems much... harsher than I initially first thought. To note, I am working at a university so perhaps it was a good idea to get a taste of academia before jumping into doing a PhD.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Hong Kong

    That's the culture of that company and that role. It won't improve. Even if you have evidence, what good will it do it. If they want to fire you, you're gone. Only time this could potentially help is in a larger organization where there is an opportunity to move to a different team. As a newbie, you don't have much say either.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Taiwan and HK

    It seems to me that personalities such as that of your CW flourish in larger bureaucratic organizations as many universities tend to be. Large companies...same. You may want to find a smaller organization... Also it's good if you are more responsible for individual projects so this kind of coworker has no impact. I work in a career where the work product is mostly individual output so any silliness by coworkers has had little impact on me over the years.

    Also are you an expat and CW a local? Could be an unfortunate "us-them" dynamic going on...

    Hopefully you can find something better, the money is not worth the aggravation...

    Good luck!

    shri, juanalias and Jaz Paul like this.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2002

    @tiredworkers - Curious, is this your first job out of uni? And how long have you worked at this place?

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