How do I resign as confidante?
June 20, 2012 7:01 PM Subscribe
I've unintentionally become the person that a coworker feels comfortable venting to, and in this case, I don't like it. How do I make it stop without causing too much trouble? [Hoo boy, this ended up long!]
- I work for a university. It's graduation time. Our last [fantastic] graduation coordinator left for a new position last year.
- "Sandy" had a job as a director of a program within our school. Because of political squabbles that I don't quite understand, she was removed from that position and was made the school's events coordinator. She was in charge of graduation this year.
- The person in charge of graduation is IN CHARGE of graduation, from start to finish.
- Sandy either didn't understand this, or it wasn't explained to her, or she decided that being IN CHARGE meant being able to delegate the work (which has not historically been the case).
- Those of us that she relied on for advice and answers uniformly felt like we did the bulk of the work, though the answers we gave her were intended to help HER do the work.
- This has led to bad blood on all parts, and those of us who ended up doing most of the work have met to discuss where things fell apart. We have all agreed that it would be better for Sandy not to be the graduation coordinator next year, and are going to make that recommendation to the higher-ups, for better or for worse.
- Because we all stepped up and did more than our share, I spent two days alone with Sandy, helping her set up the venue.
- During those two days, I found out that, boy oh boy, she is a complainer. She had something to say about everyone involved -- all of whom were bending over backwards to HELP her during her first year -- and it was all negative. Every time I walked into the room after going off to do other things, I was met with "Oh, I am so pissed off at _______. You won't believe what they just did."
- I am polite, and I smiled and nodded. Since I know these people better than she does, I tried to offer some insight or context. It was always met with negativity. She didn't want advice on how to navigate the situation; she wanted to bitch. And bitch she did.
- By the end of the whole thing, I didn't want to be in the same room with her. It's a week past now, and I've had a vacation, and I thought maybe it was over with.
- She came in to my office today to complain about something one of those others did or said, doing it sotto voce, with that aggressive/negative energy, and finished with "I just wanted to slap her!"
- I don't want to be the person who knows the list of everyone Sandy wants to slap on a given day. I can problem solve, and am always happy to do so, but that's not what she's interested in.
- I'm getting the sense that Sandy feels like it's Us vs. Them, but I don't want to be part of Us, and I agree quite a bit more with Them.
- I very much feel like I'm being put in the middle. I work closely with the people she's complaining about, and it's uncomfortable for me. I want to defend them, or explain them, but she doesn't listen.
- I want to put a stop to this, but don't want to piss her off or hurt her feelings, especially since she may find out that I am one of the people who is asking the Deans to remove her from graduation duty.
- The best tactic I currently have is to nod, smile, and act disinterested, but she doesn't notice disinterest. I'm afraid that by being blunt, I may make things worse and make her feel more alienated than she already does.
- Being the peacekeeper is hard sometimes, but I feel that that's my role in this scenario.