Last Updated: 15th August 2020
Someone complains about you at work – what do you do? You are investigated. What should you do? Do you wait to get fired, or do you resign? How should you act and react when someone complains about you at work? This post includes my own experiences as well as insights from other experts.
Try Damage Control
When someone complains about you at work, it is a difficult situation to control or predict. Find out about the Complainant and the nature of the complaint.
Try to take your direct supervisor in your confidence. Set up a meeting with the Complainant through your supervisor.
Apologize, in your supervisor’s presence, if it’s the right thing to do. Having your supervisor in the same room will save you from further damage.
Never speak or interact with the Complainant in private.
Make sure your supervisor is aware how you regret your actions, if you did indeed do something wrong. And most importantly, keep your cool.
Do not cry, shout or create any kind of scene at the workplace.
Talk to HR. HR will try to mediate between you and the Complainant to resolve this asap. But it’s still important you involve or at least report your dilemma to your supervisor. It will build your relationship with the boss. And if needed, your supervisor can turn out to be an excellent character witness for you.
In my case, the complaint was that I talked too much about my upcoming wedding and my family in India. When I tried to talk to the Complainant, she refused. My supervisor vouched for me. But his boss didn’t want any drama in the office. So he asked both of us to leave. It was a tough time for me. I had to search for a new job. But I was also hurt. I had considered her a good friend.
Trust Your Instincts
Ask for references before word gets out. Your supervisor can’t give you any recommendation, if you do get fired. No matter how ga-ga your supervisor is over you. So, get those recommendation letters and job references from people you’ve worked with.
The next course of action is actually dependent on time. Begin your job search if you feel your job is in danger. Set up interviews at every opportunity. And screen your offers.
If you’re particularly fond of your current job, try to stick it out till the very end. Your friendly supervisor can give you a heads-up if a pink slip should come your way. At such a point, try to persuade your supervisor to accept your resignation instead.
In my case, while I loved working with my supervisor, I wasn’t that big of a fan of his boss. That dude gave me the creeps! Plus he behaved as if he didn’t want to be bothered with the whole situation. And then when the Complainant scratched my car, he took the decision of letting go of both of us. I took that as an opportunity to better my future. And even after a decade, I love that decision.
Being a Consultant in the USA is an unsteady journey. Even though I made many friends at work, I knew my contract would only last so long. So you could say that I was always on my toes, as far as my job was concerned. My consulting agency promptly found me another job, and I also took the decision of starting AnksImage.
Accept The Change – Have Closure
Changes happen in life all the time. Sometimes you are ready and sometimes you’re forced to get ready. Be prepared for whatever life has to offer.
I might not be in the exact situation as yourself but I was in a similar situation. I chose to look at the bright side of things. It was just the right nudge I needed to explore my entrepreneurial skills. Thanks to that decision of not sticking it out or grovelling for that position, I am an entrepreneur today. And I am satisfied.
A few years back, I found out my Complainant had a history of complaining about her peers to deflect from her poor performance at work. A common friend told me she was caught by her supervisor stealing data while working at her next job. When he confronted her, she complained about another colleague. She was blacklisted, as a result. And that’s when I realised that complaining about me was just another ploy of hers to distract supervisors from checking her work.
My guilt thinking that maybe I gabbed too much at work finally dispersed. Ta da – closure!!
Over to you..
Not all complaints are genuine. The one against me wasn’t.
Not all complaints get justice. I didn’t.
Like all the other aspects in life, you have to keep an upbeat attitude in such a situation. So when someone complains about you at work, you don’t tuck in your tail and run away, you first fight. And fight hard.
If all your fight is simply making a mess out of your life, it’s better for you to start fresh.
What do you think?
Read our other Business Etiquette posts to build your personal brand at work.