Unhealthy friendships can be very messy...

by Victoria

Dear everyone/anyone,

I am writing for a few reasons but, mainly, because I just don't know what to do.

Here's my situation...I began working at my current job about 2 years ago and became friends with my co-workers. There are 4 of us that became pretty close and sit by each other every day. About 6 months ago, I got promoted over another one of the workers. So...now I'm her supervisor that is also her friend. It gets more complicated. Another one of the co-workers is now dating one of my friends (from a personal circle of friends). The person I supervise and the person that is dating my friend are very close and are pretty negative people that like to gossip...A LOT. (this gossip has even gotten back to my boss) I have addressed both of them individually at completely different times. The last time I discussed something with one of them was a result of a completely rude comment that was made to me. I feel that the discussions go very well and I leave them feeling upbeat and positive just to get "stabbed in the back" per say. I really feel like these two are toxic to me but that I am so entangled between the work and personal connections that I just don't know what to do. Most of all, I fear the comments that are being made to MY friends from my co-worker (who has just recently become friends with the friends I have had for a few years). I don't hate many things, but I hate gossip. Badly. And truly, truly do my best just to steer clear. If anyone has any advice/thoughts/has been through something like this, please let me know.


Comments for Unhealthy friendships can be very messy...

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Jun 11, 2008
by: Catherine, www.Life-With-Confidence.com

Hi Victoria,

Wow, that is a messy situation.

Did you have a chance to read my article on gossip in the workplace:

Gossip At Work

I ask because this will give you some ideas as to why people gossip in the first place. So, as one place to start, all the gossiping your one friend/co-worker does at work could be a sign of other things happening. So, with her, she may have been jealous when you got promoted and she didn't. Have you ever talked to her about that? But, more importantly, do you know what her career goals are? Is she able to feel like she's working towards a goal or do you think she might feel like she's now stuck where she is forever? Does she feel like she's not learning enough or being challenged enough in her job? Does she feel like she's not being listened to or that her suggestions aren't being taken seriously?

If you could figure out why she's feeling so frustrated then you might be able to take steps to address that and get her focused on something more positive. If she's happier about herself and her job, she's not going to gossip as much. She'll also appreciate you more that you're helping her to achieve her goals. Not easy but it might be one way to lessen the gossiping.

If she's even saying things to your boss though, it does sound like she's jealous of you, maybe even feeling hurt that she wasn't promoted, and very frustrated with her own situation. She probably doesn't know how to deal with her feelings so gossips and tries to hurt you as a way to deal with them.

Did she gossip when you were both co-workers or has it gotten much worse since you were promoted? If it's worse since you got promoted, it'd be a good sign of where her frustration is coming from.

But, it's a difficult situation. You may find though that if you can lessen this one person from gossiping, she won't gossip to your other friends as much either and it will improve your situation all round.

Jun 11, 2008
Minding My Own Business
by: Momoko

Running my own small business is not easy, but now I am glad I don't have gossipy people problems. I work alone at home and have a lot of control over whom I want to get involved with and who to avoid.

Jun 11, 2008
I understand.
by: Ann

Dear Victoria,
I understand completely what you are going through, I have been there. What I have found to help me get through the gossip, is believing in myself.Do not let your guard down, do not let them see it is hurting you.Gossip is nothing but lies and you have no need to defend yourself against them.You have done nothing wrong. You know what you are about. Regardless of that, people are still going to gossip, no matter what, but, if they see you with a positive attitude, they in turn will also want that.

As a supervisor, at all times, keep your head high. You were given that position for a reason, or you would not be there.

Those who gossip, I believe, suffer from low self esteem. They need someone whom they can look up too, even though you may think they are not watching, they are. I supervised 5 women, and it was hard.

You seem to have the right attitude, you speak with a positive personality.You lift them up, but at the same time, you keep your self respect.

You are going to do fine. Be kind to them, they may have something in their life that no one knows about, that could be hurting them inside, and only they can deal with it. They could also be testing you to see how you deal under pressure..I have had that done to me, and then told about it later.:)

The main thing, Believe in yourself!
Take care,

Jun 11, 2008
Unhealthy Friendships - thoughts
by: Jeanette

Hi Victoria,
I have a couple of observations. Your personal circle of friends, if they are truly your friends, will know that whatever your co-worker/friend negatively portrays is not true or at the very least is only her side of the story. If your co-worker/friend is in a really negative place right now then they will see it and put her comments into perspective.
If the gossiping is really and truly against your values then it is important to address the issue personally and professionally - perhaps creating a mission statement for yourself and for your department about how you want to be treated and how you will treat others. Post this statement and let others know that this is the standard at which you will be working. Keeping the mission statement in your sight will help keep you grounded and where you want to be.
Good Luck.

Jun 11, 2008
Thank you!
by: Victoria

Wow! I was so excited to check this to see if I heard from Catherine so to have multiple comments was a nice surprise :-) Thank you all for your comments/suggestions.

Catherine, to answer your questions, I have actually taken multiple steps to help the one I supervise. We have discussed why she feels the way she does and I've told her multiple times (and followed through) that I WANT her to succeed. It seems, though, that I can not do this without her allowing me to help. I will say, in this area, things have gotten better.

When you throw in the other "friend"/co-worker, that is now dating a friend of mine, it just gets a lot worse. As they sort of "promote" each other to gossip, it's like, without one of them, things would be fine. My conversations with both of them, individually, go very well and I truly think that they are "good people." This other friend that is dating my friend (man, this is confusing) has flat out told me that she's envious because I'm outgoing and she's quiet and I'm so positive and she just doesn't understand how I can be so positive so it makes her frustrated with me.

I don't know what I'm trying to get at here. As an extrovert, I like to hear others' opinions and talk things out out-loud in order to come to a conclusion.

I do think I'm going to discuss this with my boss. Not the details, petty stuffy, etc. but the effect it has had on me and our team and how we/I can help it get better in the future.

I welcome (and appreciate) any additional thoughts.


Apr 26, 2011
I do agree friendships can be very messy
by: Cassandra Dinkins

We all at some time are another go though this problem with our friends. I really don't think people take friendship for what it really is. They become apart of your family and when some thing happen with that friendship it's like a death in your family. Just be very careful for now on, and be safe.

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