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Dilemma: A known backstabber walks into an office …

March 30, 2012 By Editor

It sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s my life. At my previous company, a coworker bad-mouthed me to my peers and upper management alike. Why? She wanted my job. She didn’t succeed, but eventually I came to work for my present employer. Imagine my dismay when I found out this woman has also accepted a job here, at a lower level than mine. I don’t want to revisit what happened last time. Should I talk to my boss about her? The higher-ups? Or should I just stay quiet and hope she’s changed?

— Name withheld, Marketing Manager

Don’t slam the door in her face

Although it’s nice to be friends with the people in your office, you’re expected to get along with everyone, including individuals you may not like or may even dislike. Consequently, our readers suggest you:

  • Forget about the past.
  • Start over the right way.
  • Keep an eye on her.

Forget about the past

This woman failed at trying to take your job, so maybe it’s time for you to  let go of what happened for your own sake.

An anonymous reader explains why this might be a good idea.

“I’d be inclined to start fresh, especially in a new place. It also depends on the culture of your company. Most good companies don’t look favorably on devious behavior that’s disruptive.”

Start over the right way

To show the kind of professional you are, you may want to go one step further and make an effort to put this once troublesome coworker at ease when she starts working at your company.

Donna Halsted, Executive Assistant, describes how to do this.

“Welcome her on her first day. Walk right up to her, look her in the eye, ask her if she remembers you and shake her hand. Politely wish her luck and let her know your position, how long you’ve been with the company and how you admire the fact they hire only the best, most ethical people.”

Keep an eye on her

While burying the hatchet may be a good strategy, it never hurts to protect yourself any way you can.

An anonymous reader tempers trust with a dash of skepticism.

“You have to accept this woman is going to be working under the same roof as you. Don’t be combative with her or mention what happened before. Greet her as you would any other new employee and treat her the same way you treat everyone else.

“But don’t let down your guard. Watch for any signs she might be up to her old games, and if she is, go immediately to HR. But when you do, be sure to have proof, so it’s not a matter of she said/she said. Protect yourself.”


  • I’d like to think this new hire has changed, but people rarely do. I’d steer clear of the troublemaker as much as possible. The knife can go into the back pretty quickly, and it’s awfully hard to come back career-wise if the cut is deep enough.

    Do you think our reader has a reason to worry? What would you do in her situation?

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