[sh*tstorm filter] I don't know how (or if) I can/should help a friend
March 29, 2014 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I am unsure on how to advise a friend on a complicated interpersonal matter despite making promises on looking into possible solutions.

A friend recently told me about a personal and work related crisis involving a superior. She was dating him on and off until last summer, but broke things off after his shifty behavior. She later found out shockingly through a colleague (who she says is trustworthy) that said superior was also seeing other women at work, and was actually in a LTR with a co-worker at the same institution.

Recently the superior's SO got suspicious and looked through his SMSs--she broke up with him last week (he denies everything, yet cleared his phone memory but hasn't fought for the relationship) and she also talked with my friend, and believes her for not having known of his two-timing behavior.

Knowing a few friends who work in the same field in a different city, I told her I would ask for some advice on dealing with the power asymmetries and the gossip shit storm aftermath. I've never dealt with anything like this in my life, and I'm not sure if I'm involving myself in something that is perhaps going to die down eventually anyways?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Her: Keep your head down, do your work, don't talk about this with anyone in the company.

You: Don't get involved; it's not your problem.
posted by xingcat at 2:39 PM on March 29, 2014 [22 favorites]

Do you want to get caught up in Hurricane Drama? If you don't, then you need to make it clear to your friend that this is nothing to do with you. Whatsoever. At all. Your friend needs to keep her mouth very tightly shut about all of this. Any amount of talking about it any further will entrench her position. Least said, soonest mended.

It sounds like the relationships are already over. This is the time to go no contact in all its various forms.
posted by Solomon at 2:59 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is a hard question to answer without more information. The obvious solution to gossip is to participate as little as possible. Beyond that, I guess I'd identify the likely risk paths. E.g., the guy tries to get back with his SO, she demands details, he starts naming names to her, and she demands he fire your friend and the others he was dating. E.g., the SO finds emails and repeatedly comes into the business screaming at your friend until eventually some superior says your friends needs to find a new job. These seem unlikely but are examples of the analysis I'd do. Then I'd think about how to mitigate the risk.
posted by salvia at 3:00 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a very close friend who went through something similar, and the story of her involvement with a superior followed her to her next job. It's no good.

Do not ever be alone with this man. Do not talk about this man, even with people she thinks are friends. Head down at work, and discuss it only with a trusted therapist. Regardless of the ownership of the blame of the situation or even if she didn't know about the SO, people will judge her on this.
posted by mochapickle at 3:06 PM on March 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

It may be that some sort of labor lawyer would be a better source of advice (even pre-emptive/in the absence of any retaliation your friend may experience at work) than well-intentioned friends or random internet strangers.
posted by eviemath at 3:54 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you should be as good as your word and ask your friends for advice like you said you would. You don't have to get involved any more than that, if you don't want.
posted by sam_harms at 4:01 PM on March 29, 2014

She should work like hell to find another job. Head down, early to work, turn out great product, go home and speak to no one about this. You don't do anything or say anything.

Hopefully everyone learns a lesson. Don't screw your boss or subordinate!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Of course it's going to die down eventually, even without your help.

Your friend reaped what she sewed. If you want to give her some advice, tell her to not boink where she works at her next job or indeed any of the ones after that. That's how you avoid "power politics" (this is not that anyway).

Do not ruin your own professional reputation by asking colleagues this question.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:24 PM on March 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't ask your friends for their professional input. It's extremely unprofessional, and unnecessary -- the particulars of the industry are irrelevant. There's nothing unique or special about this tale of woe -- your friend got conned by this liar-liar-pants-on-fire. I have a friend who was in a very similar spot to your friend, and she ended up having a nervous breakdown and leaving for a different job, while her boss/former paramour waltzed merrily on to his next conquest, and to a promotion.

Your friend learned a really tough lesson. I don't think there is anything more to be learned by polling your friends.
posted by nacho fries at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

this is not your problem. your friend unwisely shtupped her boss. there is absolutely no good coming from you getting involved.
posted by bruce at 7:38 PM on March 29, 2014

Knowing a few friends who work in the same field in a different city, I told her I would ask for some advice on dealing with the power asymmetries and the gossip shit storm aftermath.

Pouring gasoline on a gossip fire isn't going to help your friend. Besides, none of this is your problem. Be empathetic, be a good friend, but she's a grown-up and this isn't your problem to solve.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:45 AM on March 30, 2014

Something similar happened to me. I found a new (and better) job asap. Now I'm happy to be out of that toxic environment.

I agree with everyone above that says to stay out of it. If he starts trouble advise her to talk with HR, but I think you shouldn't be involved.

Show her this thread.
posted by koakuma at 2:42 AM on March 30, 2014

Show her this thread. Walk away.
posted by Jubey at 3:12 AM on March 30, 2014

Knowing a few friends who work in the same field in a different city, I told her I would ask for some advice on dealing with the power asymmetries and the gossip shit storm aftermath.
Tell her that after thinking about it some more, you realised that this would likely only make her situation worse and that it's not a good idea to involve any other people in this situation.
posted by sm1tten at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

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