Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
Need some really good advice? Look no further than Dear Life Kit. In each episode, we pose one of your most pressing questions to an expert. This question was answered by Shanita Williams, a career coach, an HR professional and the author of Feedback Mentality: The Key to Unlocking and Unleashing Your Full Potential.
Dear Life Kit,
My coworker and I are secretaries at a doctor’s office. We’ve worked together for over a year and I considered her a friend. But a few days ago, I got a text message from an unknown number with a screenshot of a review that said I was rude to patients and that she is kind and compassionate. The text was also sent to our supervisors.
The very next day I had to work from her desk. When I logged on, I found proof that she created a fake email address and had written the review. I confronted her and she denied it, but the next day the review was taken down. Should I let my supervisors know about her underhanded misdeed, or should I just move on? — Front office frenemy
There’s a lot to unpack here.
The first thing I appreciate is that you had a conversation with your friend. If you value a relationship, it’s important to have that difficult conversation, which many people avoid.
First, try to give your relationship the benefit of the doubt. Ask yourself: What else may I not know about this scenario that I should consider? For example, if you were sitting at her computer [and able to access this level of information], perhaps others may have been using the computer as well. Sometimes our emotions sweep over us so quickly that it’s hard to pull in all the facts.
Two, it’s important to bring this incident to your supervisor since they’ve already been looped in on the situation. If your friend didn’t write that email, then who’s breaking into computers around the office? At that point, we’re talking about a security issue, which supervisors need to know about.
You also have to acknowledge your feelings. If you find yourself feeling betrayed or saying “I don’t believe them,” then it’s important for you to have that conversation with your colleague, especially if you value the relationship or you want closure. You could say “You know, I can’t get this scenario out of my mind. And it’s making me feel as though our relationship has been fractured as a result.”
Then keep the space open for dialogue. You may find yourself in a situation where you decide to call it quits on the relationship. But then you may have a situation where the person is fighting for your friendship. They might say, “What can I do? How do we repair and move on from here?”
When you’ve exhausted every avenue — you’ve held people accountable, you’ve had difficult conversations with your leader and this individual — recognize that you’ve done your part. And celebrate the fact that most people could have ignored the situation — but you’ve shown that you care.
Dear Life Kit is hosted by Andee Tagle and produced by Beck Harlan, Vanessa Handy and Sylvie Douglis. Bronson Arcuri is the managing producer and Meghan Keane is the supervising editor. Alicia Zheng produces the Dear Life Kit video series for Instagram.
Love Dear Life Kit? You can catch us on NPR’s Instagram in a weekly reel.