Can people really be friends at work - disillusioned here.
October 12, 2010 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Should I talk to my new superior “B” (also my friend who this question is about) about what I’ve found out about her clandestine strategic maneuvering? I’ve done nothing so far, but I’d love to query the hive mind for suggestions.

It may help to note that I’m a calm , analytical personality, I’m not competitive. Although I take pride in my work, the work does not define me. “B” (my friend, and colleague), is a driver, competitive, and very keen on moving forward.

I’ve tried to be as succinct as possible; in a nutshell here is the timeline of events for which I’m seeking advice:

B and I are the same age and became good friends shortly after B was hired (2004), I had been with the company for 5+ years at that point.

3 years ago, B and I apply for the same supervisory position
I get the promotion and lead several key projects for different teams
B gets a short term assignment for a year prior to her getting a promotion into a supervisory position, and leads several disparate teams. By this point, we’re both managers in the same department

Early this year, I get assigned the “Big Project.”
Less than 2 weeks later (even before the official kickoff for the project), I get pulled into a meeting with my boss’ boss. We’re on very good terms as I had worked with her years ago. I am told in a very gentle and appropriate way that due to B’s prior experience with some subject matter, they feel she’s the more appropriate choice for the big project. The decision makes sense to me and I’m sincerely supportive. The discussion was not difficult, though I can imagine that it was uncomfortable for my boss’ boss to deliver the “bad” news to me. I was fine with it, truly. B now takes over the Big Project

I soon move laterally into a non-management position of my own volition (this position has proved very rewarding)

Big project requires MAJOR assistance to “fix” (not B’s fault)
I, in my new role help to fix a portion of the big project, and soon become integrally involved. B is the project lead, and I begin to notice changes, she’s a lot more dictatorial, and is now having meetings with upper management on a regular basis (a normal part of this project’s requirements). I also notice other subtle personality changes. I think B is just being B when under stress. I speak with B about it, and she confides in me that it is the stress, and she’s truly cognizant of these perceived changes, and wants to be more aware, thanks me, though nothing really seems to change, and she becomes less and less involved in her day to day management tasks. This is okay because of her involvement in the Big Project (as it has been sanctioned by her boss and her boss’ boss).

An upper management position opened up recently; B was reticent in applying. I have never had any desires to get promoted into higher / upper management positions so I was sincerely supportive of B, I genuinely encouraged her to apply for that higher management position, which she felt she was not ready for. I even helped B practice for interviews.

B applies for and is promoted to a higher management position (mainly due to her visibility and apparent positive perceptions from upper management, with her involvement with the big project); B is now my boss’ boss.

I find out last week that earlier this year B actually went to my boss’ boss shortly after hearing that I had gotten assigned the big project and campaigned for getting it transferred to herself saying that, “[I was] a softie, [I] can’t handle something like this.”

Obviously this was news to me as the change in assignment for the big project was presented to me in a very positive way, in that it made sense to me. It would have even made sense had they been completely honest with me, it wouldn’t have sat well, but being a realist, it did make sense.

I confided this information to my long time mentor in the company, and was taken aback to hear that she wasn’t surprised based on some of her more recent interactions with B, in that B “strategically uses information to position herself beneficially.” I have also learned (not proactively seeking it, through conversations with folks in this and other departments) other bits of information which continually make me question my friendship with B, and affirm what I heard about B’s clandestine campaigning for the Big Project. My trust in her continues to be eroded.

My feelings of hurt come from the fact that B didn’t come to me first and express her desire for the Big Project. She knew me pretty well, at least well enough to know that I wouldn’t have been opposed as the argument for her getting it made sense. Even if I had kept the Big Project, I would have pulled B in as a resource. The strategic maneuvering bothers me, especially because we were friends.

I feel disappointed and disillusioned. I know full well that things this have likely happened to me in the past being in the corporate world (though ignorance is bliss), but knowing that this happened - by someone I trusted - is disheartening.

Should I speak with B about this?
posted by lonemantis to Human Relations (35 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Nope. Take the information you have and use it to shape your own interactions with this woman, but don't confront her with your knowledge or your feelings. Even if it goes well, you'll be unlikely to be able to trust her in the future, and it isn't likely to go well. You seem to be suggesting, even in your carefully worded question here, that she didn't earn her promotion and position, which I can't imagine she'd like to hear.
posted by OmieWise at 5:05 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

You cannot benefit from confronting her in any way. Don't get involved with her career decisions and keep her out of yours. Find a new friend.

Honestly, I wouldn't speak about her to others in the company unless they have no authority over either of you and even then I'd be careful. Your company likes what they see in her and keep promoting her, so just do your work and let her do hers.

But I'm an academic, so take my advice for what it is.
posted by vincele at 5:13 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

B wanted to take over the project for her own professional reasons. She used the proper professional channels to for lobby that to happen. Her personal relationship to you isn't relevant here, and attempting to make it so would only make you look unprofessional.
posted by embrangled at 5:17 AM on October 12, 2010 [11 favorites]

Don't say it. She's possibly gunning for you already, and likely will be in the future. Don't give her any info/ammo.

If you approach her on this now she's also likely to get sneakier. You know her current and past MO. Use that information to prepare yourself for future promotions.

(also? Don't bring this up with the boss people. It will be perceived as squabbling/backbiting/jealousy. Even if they know you are in the right, those are not keywords you want used in sentences containing your name.)
posted by bilabial at 5:19 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

A colleague of mine gave me some wonderful advice years ago: emotional, rather than rational, arguments hold little currency in management and even less at senior management.

This is not to dismiss your feelings: you are right to have them, but they don't really have a place in management. You don't want to be senior management and I'm guessing that part of the reason for this is that you don't like the business of treating people like interchangeable assets, or the politics that inevitably comes with management territory.

You're right not to trust B. She has made a choice of her career over yours, of using information gained in an informal setting as a step-up. I think over and above that she's shown herself to be a bit of a shit. You've played a very straight bat, but in management the pyramid tapers towards the top fairly sharply - your inclusive style can be read as a weakness. I should add that I don't necessarily see it that way - inclusive, human, collaborative management is a rare and valuable commodity, but it's incredibly easy not to behave that way

Another way to think about this: by raising your feelings, what would you expect to achieve? I could trot out various kernels of truth - it's not personal, it's business; all's fair in love and war; forgiveness is easier to ask for than permission. They all amount to a discussion few people - not least B - really want to have.

tl:dr: yes, B is probably a lost cause as a friend. Don't waste time going there. Decide quickly whether you want to get on the management bus or not in your organization. If not, be prepared for others to decide for you and manipulate circumstances to promote themselves.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:25 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Her personal relationship to you isn't relevant here, and attempting to make it so would only make you look unprofessional."

That's half-true. It's relevant to you. She may have had no professional obligation to come to you, but possibly she did have a personal obligation.

You have a role clash here, and your professional relationship has to come first. Treat her as your comrade but not your friend, as they say in Communist countries. That is, be friendly and professional towards her, even hang out with her, but don't confide in her because you can expect her to use the information at your expense.
posted by tel3path at 5:27 AM on October 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

Never trust anyone you meet at work.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [27 favorites]

I disagree with embrangled. Because you have a personal relationship with this person, all aspects of the relationship are in some way personal. She decided that one aspect of her professional life was more important than the potential negative impact on our relationship with her, and will need to deal with the consequences. I wouldn't confront her, though, due to the potential damage to (a) the relationship, in case what you've heard is wrong, and (b) your career, whether what you've heard is correct or not. I wouldn't trust her, however. Realize that without trust the personal relationship goes away, so that's really your call.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:02 AM on October 12, 2010

I confided this information to my long time mentor in the company, and was taken aback to hear that she wasn’t surprised based on some of her more recent interactions with B, in that B “strategically uses information to position herself beneficially.” I have also learned (not proactively seeking it, through conversations with folks in this and other departments) other bits of information which continually make me question my friendship with B, and affirm what I heard about B’s clandestine campaigning for the Big Project. My trust in her continues to be eroded.

I'm going to take a little different of an approach and say that you just need a better wall between your work-relationship with B and your personal-relationship with B. Just because she doing some strategic maneuvering at work doesn't mean that your personal relationship is false.

You've been a little naive about her work persona, but don't beat yourself up, just be a little more guarded. Don't rely on your friendship with her during work, consider it a separate thing, as if it's in another dimension.

Her opinion that you're a softie hurts perhaps because you feel like she shared private knowledge, but isn't this opinion something she might have had strictly within the confines of the work relationship? I mean, she didn't say that you're a softie because, for example, last week when you and she were out drunk together you revealed that you are too kindhearted to stomp on bugs.

I'm not saying that she's doing this right. She's making things more complicated than they need to be and most certainly blinding herself to other opportunities, including those in which you would need to be a full ally. And she's being naive if she thinks that things she's said about you aren't going to get back to you. Ms. Player should be a little more careful about how she's being perceived.

But I'd take the perceptions of your mentor with a grain of salt, too.
posted by desuetude at 6:11 AM on October 12, 2010

You thought she was:

A friend in personal life.
A friend in business life.

Evidence finds that she really is:

Not a friend in business life.

This should ask yourself whether she might be:

Not a friend in personal life.

tl;dr Be professional at work, but stay away in personal life. And, don't talk to her.
posted by LudgerLassen at 6:15 AM on October 12, 2010 [11 favorites]

This person has shown a willingness to hurt you to help herself. Getting even won't make you feel any better (for more than about thirty minutes). Also, when you speak poorly about someone or take advantage of someone, the natural tendency is to treat your victim poorly because you feel guilty, in order to justify your behavior. Put distance between yourself and this person; as mentioned above, she is probably gunning for you.

Your job will be to figure out how to not obsess over this and let it control you. For super bonus points and greater relief, you could try to forgive her, even though it isn't fair.
posted by mecran01 at 6:23 AM on October 12, 2010

B “strategically uses information to position herself beneficially.”

Honestly, this just sounds like sound business acumen on B's part. You admit that she had more relevant experience that would make her a fit choice for the Big Project, and I think you are letting your personal feelings skew everything, taking this as a personal attack. This just leads to drama in the workplace that is not going to help anyone's situation in the long run.

If you feel that B's actions have hurt your friendship, you can certainly choose to distance yourself from her outside the workplace--but as others have said, she has done nothing unprofessional (at least as far as the specifics in your question lead us to believe).

Continue to act professionally, and use your newly acquired knowledge of B to guide you in the future--for instance, don't offer her help unless she asks for it, be prepared to sell yourself to your superiors and others in case she does any more maneuvering that directly affects you, and just chalk this up to lessons learned.
posted by misha at 6:25 AM on October 12, 2010

Be careful in how you think about this. She's not your friend, and she's not your colleague anymore. She's your Boss. While your neck made a convenient stepping stone way back when, keep it in the past. The last thing you want is her knowing you know, and are upset about it. That would make you a liability.

Also - nobody cares about your feelings. There is no way to bring this up, to anyone, that won't reflect poorly on you. Bury it.

B wanted to take over the project for her own professional reasons. She used the proper professional channels to for lobby that to happen.

Ugh, no. She did a hatchet job on a colleague using language that was (assuming the quote was direct) ragingly unprofessional. That meeting should have been a career-limiting move for her, and it speaks quite poorly of the management culture that it wasn't.
posted by a young man in spats at 6:26 AM on October 12, 2010 [20 favorites]

You've had a lot of good responses so far. Don't bring up your dealings with this woman to anyone, at any time. However, you have the cut of her sails now - you know what she is liable to do when it suits her.

But here is something I noticed. You said you had to step in and fix some problems when the Big Project stalled. To what extent does management know that you were the real problem solver for the Big Project? Has she misrepresented that as well? Your post makes excuses for her behaviour, and for her management of the project. Honestly, it sounds to me like she's Peter Principled herself, and is not very competent. I would counsel you to be careful that you're not continually called on to fix her mistakes and problems. You need to ask yourself whether you wish to continue to be this woman's scaffolding, propping her up from below and behind so that she can maintain the illusion of competence.
posted by LN at 6:51 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is B still your friend now?
You're no longer in a position to help her career so how is the personal relationship with her?
If there is still a personal friendship there then I would wager she does consider you a friend. If the personal relationship is now non-existent, then I'd go the other way and say she has her identity wrapped too tightly with her career and its progression and considers relationships secondary.

It's a complicated situation that really depends on the dynamics and personalities involved, making it tough for an internet stranger to give good advice. But if I were in your shoes, projecting my own experiences onto your situation, I'd figure out if there was still a friendship there. If there wasn't a friendship and I felt hurt and used, then I'd seriously consider getting a new job, or at least moving out from under B's sphere of control. However, if I believed there was still a friendship and respect there, then I would have a conversation with B, but a slightly different one. The outline of this conversation would be to: 1) sincerely praise her for her career progression, 2) let her know that I know that progression was somewhat at my expense, 3) let her know that I'm ok with it since her goal and my goals in life were different, 4) Layout my goals and ask her for thoughts on those, 5) make it clear that I want to succeed as well, and that I hope she can provide support and guidance to achieve those successes.

This conversation would have two objectives. The first, and obvious one would be to have her support. The second one, and more subtle would be to gauge her willingness to offer that support. And for me, I'd be extremely observant for any clues of less than full support. If I felt she was in anyway not operating in good faith, then I would conclude that I can't count on her and would take the same steps as if there wasn't a friendship, namely begin looking for a new job, or moving outside of her control.

I would feel comfortable doing those things because I'm comfortable in my skills and their value and that it's more important to me to be in a supportive environment rather than progressing in a competitive, manipulative environment.

That's what would work for me interacting with a hypothetical friend who progressed by using me as a stepping stone ... ymmv. Good Luck.
posted by forforf at 7:15 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recommend you get a copy of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman and take a look especially at the chapter titled "Don't Expect to Make Friends". I picked this book up when it was first published, around 2000, when I was recently promoted to 2nd level management in a fortune 500 high tech company. I found it to be very insightful regarding the behavior and expectations of my male colleagues. The author is a former (female) executive at CNN.

It seems to me like "B" is playing the game of business the way a (fairly aggressive) guy would play it.
posted by elmay at 7:27 AM on October 12, 2010

I wouldn't go to management if I were you, because corporate management doesn't like to hear about hurt feelings; they care about their bottom line. However, LN wonders if management knows you were the fixer on the big project - you probably want to be sure you get proper credit for your work here, not because of B, but because you want credit for your work.

As for B, it's fine to fire her from the position of "friend." She doesn't sound like a nice or trustworthy person - she's already shown herself willing to step all over you to get where she wants. Keep mum to management (except to point out where credit is due), dump B as a friend, chalk everything up to experience.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:29 AM on October 12, 2010

One other point... what do you expect to get out of talking with B? An apology? A promise not to do this again? Something else?

What's the likelihood that you will actually get what you want from having this conversation with her?
posted by elmay at 7:32 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't see what you'd gain by speaking with her about this. Your hurt is something to live with on your own somehow.

Also, be advised: she thinks people need to act somewhat dictatorial to handle power, and she thinks you're a softie, too much of one in fact. By definition, she thinks you're a loser. So if you want her respect, don't talk to her in any way that shows your soft underbelly. Relate to her from your inner strength (from how generous and confident and inwardly-defined you sound, I imagine you're not a softie at all).
posted by salvia at 7:47 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are two lessons to be learned here:

1) You can't talk honestly to someone dishonest. Anything honest you say to her now will be used against you, just as whatever you said to make her consider you a softie was used against you. Be wise and keep your own counsel from now on. Do not confront her.

2) Do not do anything to help her with her career in future (unless it benefits you). She has actively waylaid your career. One of you two has to watch out for YOU, and as it sure isn't her, it'll have to be you.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:01 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Don't speak to her about it. Knowledge is power, and now that you know how she is, you can act to manage future damage.
She's not doing anything I haven't seen done, backhanded company politics as usual. Confronting her about the game just shows that you don't know how to play it, which makes you weak in that world.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:29 AM on October 12, 2010

If it's any consolation to you, American business culture is an object of derision all over the rest of the world because of it's persistent tendency to prefer people like B over people like you, and our current economic situation would certainly seem to have amply ratified such contempt.

If I were you, I'd start looking around for a company to work for which was not run by fools the way yours is. In the long and intermediate term you'll probably have to anyway, because the kind of stupidity your bosses have displayed in the matter of B is the royal road to failure.
posted by jamjam at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

You have five years' seniority on B. She has gone from a new hire to being your boss's boss.

Professionally, she has played this very smart. It's time for you to do the same. In your place, I would stop talking to anyone at your workplace about B ... it makes you look weak. I'd slowly and subtly distance myself from her socially and use disinformation to my advantage. And I'd start looking for another job.
posted by cyndigo at 10:18 AM on October 12, 2010

Can you move- either transfer or get promoted- to a department outside of her authority? You'll be outside of her schemeing and you won't end up doing work for someone who will take the credit and then claim you can't handle the work.

It seems like B only made it because of your help; so she might implode on her own.
posted by spaltavian at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for all the responses. I had already decided not to do anything halfway through writing my post, and many of your answers confirm that doing nothing and learning from this is the best course of action to take.

As for promotions / looking for another job maybe in another department, there are fewer and fewer opportunities at least for the foreseeable future, as the company (a Fortune 500 firm) is going through major restructuring (my department went through it earlier in the year, and I was one of those who ended up keeping a job). So I'm here for the time being. though there maybe one opportunity at another firm which I'm considering getting more agressive about.

Through B is now at the level of my boss' boss, she is not a direct line supervisor to me, as she runs another sleeve of this department, so there is that professional distance. And B is having a (former) team get together at her home soon, so we'll see how that goes.

Again, my feelings aren't necessarily hurt (at this time), I'm more confused in how people change, or had I been duped all along into thinking she was a friend (for years). Or did this all start when I got a management position before her? Alas, there's my analytical side coming out.
posted by lonemantis at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010

Beyond the generally good advice here, you should also not believe every rumor you hear. It's probably not made up out of whole cloth, but who are these gossip hounds dropping dimes on their coworkers to you? The next time someone says: "Can you believe what so-and-so said about you?"...tell them no and to mind their own business. Your best bet is to take all interactions with a grain of salt from your friend, and operate from now on as if everything you say may come back to haunt you. But don't cut off your friendship because of some random interoffice machinations. Just keep being you as proudly as possible.

The only actions you can control are your own actions. In the end if you conform to the utmost with your highest standards of integrity, then you will be happy and successful. Perhaps others will be equally or more successful while not holding the same standards, but unless their success is a direct attack on your well-being, any attempt to correct that unfairness may well be something that dips below your initial line of Being A Good Person and will likely just make things worse.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 AM on October 12, 2010

> had I been duped all along into thinking she was a friend (for years)...?

There's a difference between being friends and being friendly. It sounds like you were truly being her friend, but she didn't reciprocate.

Power and Greed are big motivators for some people.It sounds like she has a competitiveness that has gotten between her desire to be your friend and her desire to climb the corporate ladder.

Most relationships don't start out as toxic, but in this case, it seems like the poison has been seeping in slowly. It's your choice to stop taking the poison. Continue to do your job well, and watch your back, but allow distance to come between the two of you.

While it's sad for someone to be overwhelmed by the desire for power, it's awful that it had to be someone you considered your friend. Keep your eyes open for a new opportunity. I'm sorry that you had to endure this, and i know that it's a hard lesson to learn.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 11:32 AM on October 12, 2010

What evidence do you have that your friend actually called you a "softie" and that she did so in order to take this job from you?
posted by tel3path at 11:34 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: tel3path:
The fact that she called me a softie is irrelevant to me. Though too many corroborative conversations to list here --
(and of course, I haven't told this to anyone but my mentor and the hive mind; ie. the conversations had nothing to do with this situation explicitly, but one becomes aware of key relationships and decisions)
--have occurred since I learned of it, that make me believe that regardless of the words she used, she did lobby to get the Big Project, and her lobbying was successful. I'd have wanted her to come to me first. Not because we were friends (that shouldn't matter when integrity is concerned), but because it was the right thing to do.

The friendship part of our relationship should have affirmed to her that she COULD come to me without fear of judgment, etc.
posted by lonemantis at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2010

I want to present a slightly different side of this (if for nothing other than perspective).

I think I may be a bit like B. In that way, I might be able to soften what seems like a punch to the gut here. Management is not always where you go when you get better/more experience. Companies everywhere have people contributing on a very high level outside of management. You do not need to be a manager to be the most effective or productive member of a team.

What I am saying is that you shouldn't take this series of events to mean that B unnecessarily hurt you. It could be that B was actually campaigning all along for your involvement in "Big Project". She just wasn't sure that your leadership of "Big Project" was the best way to use you. It could be that she campaigned to get you in to "fix" it when it was broken (and gave you the credit when you succeeded). In fact, if B had done this, it would have further cemented her as a manager and "knower" of talent and cemented you as contributor and "possessor" of talent.

In my case, when I get pulled off to those high-level meetings where my team is not invited, I spend a shitload of time praising them to my bosses for their successes. I spend almost as much time stepping in the way of whatever slings and arrows those people try to toss on my team. I don't mind looking like an asshole if that's what is necessary to get the job done. If that means I need to re-organize a team because I think it will function better as a result, then I do (a la your "Big Project"). I won't ask your permission and I probably won't even tell you. I will do whatever I can to put the company in (whatever I think is) the best possible scenario.

The unfortunate part about all of this (and I am not being snarky here) is that most industries have decided that I should get paid more as a result. You may very well be better at your job than B is (she may even agree). However, she is probably better at her job than you are. The sucky part is that the organizational chart implies that she is "more important" than you. That is the lie here. You are probably both good at your respective jobs (something that is good for the company). They are just different jobs. Don't let the org chart tell you that you are not valuable (and don't let the org chart tell you that she is more valuable).

You should both be campaigning to put yourself in whatever position within the company that will best allow you to contribute. She is not a jerk for doing that, and you would not be a jerk if you did it.
posted by milqman at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

jamjam: If it's any consolation to you, American business culture is an object of derision all over the rest of the world because of it's persistent tendency to prefer people like B over people like you, and our current economic situation would certainly seem to have amply ratified such contempt.

Quoted for mega-truth.

I sympathize heartily, and I'm sorry you were put in this position. I think you are wise to say nothing, and if I were you I would no longer treat this person as anything more than a colleague with whom I have a cordial, yet not personal, relationship. I would also stop talking to others, even my mentor. I've had a lot of experiences where a "friend" talked about me behind my back at work, even mentors.
posted by xenophile at 5:28 PM on October 12, 2010

Addendum to my previous comment:

Take all of it, what anyone says about anyone, with a grain of salt. Between the perpetual game of telephone and a heck of a lot of projecting, it's pretty tough to ascertain any sort of objective version of the manner and context in which one person speaks about another.

To take the "softie" comment as an example: Maybe she flat-out put you down to get ahead. Maybe she was trying too hard to please and got all aggressive in response to someone else's aggression. Maybe this comment was part of a more extensive discussion regarding effectiveness of different styles for this particular project, which would jibe with what you were actually told. Maybe B made a comparison casting you as the good cop vs her as the bad cop. Maybe a comment about you as a nice co-worker was interpreted more broadly than was meant. Maybe something quite different was actually said and the person is not reporting B's words verbatim whatsoever. Maybe people are sick of B and her maneuvering and take everything she says as a power play. Maybe there's some good old-fashioned sexism nudging people into categorizing women as either ball-busters or doormats.
posted by desuetude at 7:01 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Doesn't sound like B is your friend, really. I don't see how it would help to speak with her about it. And anyway, you don't want to be a manager, B does. But one thing struck me.. if you do want to run Big Projects you should fight to keep them when you're meeting with bosses who say they want to take you off the project. B talking behind your back was unprofessional but.. unfortunately so common! I work directly with someone every day who complains about a ton of people behind their backs, and I just file away information but don't respond in the same way.
posted by citron at 9:09 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the advice. Needless to say, this has confirmed my intiial path forward of doing/saying nothing more about this, and being extra careful from here on in.

Citron: You're right in that I maybe should have fought to keep the project, but in all things life and work, I'm realistic and look at things objectively. B did have the experience necessary to tackle a lot of what the Big Project entailed, so it made sense.

I don't know if fighting to keep the project for the sake of keeping it (at least in this circumstance) would have been the right thing to do, though I'll consider my reactions more carefully should something like this happen again in the future.

As milqman said above, I just want to contribute the best way I know how and be professional about it.
posted by lonemantis at 4:37 AM on October 13, 2010

I'd have wanted her to come to me first. Not because we were friends (that shouldn't matter when integrity is concerned), but because it was the right thing to do.

1. While friendship doesn't matter where integrity is concerned (according to at least your principles in the current scenario), it surely complicates things.

2. If you were to go to this woman and confront her, what do you expect to happen? Think about it realistically.

My guess is she would pretend and argue she didn't really mean it that way and there is some sort of misunderstanding and what not ..... and then you are back to square one. People like that are diplomats who will be politically correct and lie through their teeth to save their ass. But you know what, what matters most in workplace is what comes out of your mouth. She didn't really say anything to anyone (it was all a closed room meeting with the boss's boss) and you go and confront her (and trust her to spread this one around)- the news for the rest of the week.

Besides, like someone pointed out earlier, you'd become a liability and your neck would be on the line.

3. There are at least three kinds of *right-thing-to-do*-

- Your kind of right thing to do (which is also what we learn in school and home- dont lie, dont kill, dont cheat, strength of character is the most percious thing and so forth.)

- her kind of *right-thing-so-do* - "oh, but its really so true. lonemantis wouldn't be able to handle fact cannot handle this...and we all know I have more experience....but....on the other hand.....I am only being fair.....I am only thinking of the best thing to do"

- the right thing to do at work. This one is clear cut. Be professional. Period.

If others aren't professional that's no reason for you to drop the ball. Eyes and ears open, mouth shut. Be a friend to a friend! As for what she has done to you, what goes around, comes around.

The friendship part of our relationship should have affirmed to her that she COULD come to me without fear of judgment, etc.

She may not (and likely does not) share your viewpoint of "friendship" or the "right thing to do".

What you believe in is not wrong- its actually very, very good. The problem is that those lessons that are taught to everyone just don't stick with 99% of the population.
posted by xm at 10:27 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

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