is my coworker trying to sabotage me?

A reader writes:

A little over a year ago, a friend asked if I could help one of her colleagues, Amanda, find a position in my region. After speaking with her, I found Amanda to be smart, capable, and very much aligned with my professional values and interests. I alerted her to several opportunities and even coached her through a complex hiring process in my own organization to successfully land a position with us. Since Amanda has come on board with us, we have gotten on well both personally and professionally.

A few months ago, I applied for a promotion and competed with a dozen others in my organization for it. I was thrilled to receive the promotion and even celebrated it over lunch with my new colleague, Amanda. The position requires me to work very closely with Amanda and her team, while managing my own staff, too.

A few weeks into the job, my new manager shared with me that some internal applicants had been quite vocal about their disappointment in not receiving the promotion. I suspect that Amanda may have been one of those applicants, as she would have also been qualified for the position and is a close friend of my new manager.

The difficult part is that there has been a shift in our personal and professional interactions over the last few months. What I thought might have been a collection of random oversights – forgetting to invite me to a meeting I needed to be at, not ordering me keys for an office I need access to, not responding to requests for needed information, relocating work materials that I use without telling me – now seems like a potentially passive-aggressive pattern. Even worse, my new manager, Kate, recently told me that Amanda reported that she was doing much of my work and that I was not providing her team with sufficient support or leadership for our collaboration. Amanda never shared these concerns with me in any form prior to reporting them to Kate and they are inaccurate, to say the least.

As a result of what she said to Kate, I was forced to produce a spreadsheet of all the projects and work I have done. Kate was surprised and impressed by what I documented and it immediately ended the concerns about my work ethic or productivity. However, she left it to me to sort out my working relationship with Amanda. (Amanda does not report to her; she reports to a different manager at Kate’s level.)

At our most recent meeting, Amanda denied several of my requests for support and collaboration and I left feeling incredibly frustrated and worried that it will reflect poorly on me. She and I both know that I can’t do my job without her – collaboration between my team and hers is essential.

How do I move us forward? I want to work well together and I want to produce good work for the sake of our organization and both our teams, but I don’t feel like my manager will be able to coach me around this issue given her friendship with Amanda. Do I bring up the promotion issue? Point out the pattern of oversights and denials around collaboration? I’m not sure where to start but I feel like she might try to sabotage me again if I can’t get the relationship back on track.

It sure sounds like Amanda is trying to sabotage you.

I’m trying to think of another explanation for her behavior and coming up short. If it were just the things you originally thought were oversights — forgetting to invite you to meetings, not responding to requests, etc. — we could write that off as incompetence. But combine it with her attack on your work to your manager and especially the fact that she claimed to be doing work that you actually did, and it’s hard to read this as anything other than Amanda deliberately trying to undermine you.

So, what can you do? It’s possible that talking to Amanda directly would help. It’s also possible that it won’t — if she’s deeply immature (and it sounds like she might be), talking with her directly could instead end up making her more committed to working against you. But I think it’s the best of all your options, and you can minimize the chance of a bad reaction depending on the way you approach her. Specifically, when you talk to her, you want the tone to be “I’m confused” rather than “I’m angry.” For example, you could sit down with Amanda and say, “Kate recently shared with me that you told her you were having to do a lot of my work, and that you felt I wasn’t providing enough support when we worked together. I was surprised by that, and I want to make sure that you’re getting what you need from me. I showed Kate everything I’m working on, so she’s not concerned anymore, but I really want to figure out how you and I can work better together. Can you tell me more about the issues you’re experiencing and what you’re hoping I can do differently?” And you want your tone here to be warm, concerned, and genuinely curious — not irritated or defensive.

You might feel disingenuous saying this because it’s giving more weight to her allegations than they probably deserve. But it’s a far more constructive approach than going in angry or defensive — and who knows, maybe there really is something you could be doing differently, and you should be genuinely open to hearing that if so. Most importantly, though, this approach is your best chance at disarming Amanda. By talking face-to-face with her in a warm, kind way and sounding truly open to changing something on your side, you’ll hopefully make it harder for her to see you as the villain who took the promotion she wanted. It’s harder to hold a grudge against someone who’s standing in front of you being kind — especially in this case, where you’re someone who helped her get her job! (Of course, this assumes basic decency on her part. If she turns out to a truly horrible person, you’ll need a new plan, but you won’t have lost anything by starting here.)

Depending on how the conversation goes, you could also finish it by saying, “If you do have any concerns in the future, would you come and talk to me directly so I can try to resolve it?” That won’t necessarily stop her from going to your boss first in the future, but it makes it more awkward for her to go over your head without telling you.

Best-case scenario, this conversation shames Amanda into changing her behavior, or at least makes her aware that you’re not going to stand by idly if it continues. Sometimes just realizing “ugh, I will have to have an awkward conversation with person X if I do this petty thing that I want to do” can be enough to curtail someone’s bad behavior.

But it’s also possible that it won’t. If you address this head-on with Amanda and the problems continue, at that point I do think you need to talk to Kate, your boss, about what’s happening. Obviously Kate and Amanda’s friendship makes that harder than you’d want it to be, but if Kate is going to be a good manager to you, you might need to give her a chance to step up and handle this instead. You can be sensitive to the friendship and still say something like, “I’m hoping you might have advice about my relationship with Amanda,” followed by a matter-of-fact explanation of the issues you’ve encountered, especially the recent times when Amanda has denied your requests for support and collaboration. If you’ve already seen evidence that Kate isn’t a good boss and lets personal relationships get in the way of professional ones, this might not be the right course of action … but if Kate is generally a good boss, she could be entirely capable of handling it well, especially if you’ve built up credibility with her.

One other option, if Amanda escalates or makes it hard for you to do your job, is to talk with Amanda’s boss. Again, you’d be framing it as asking for advice on how to handle the problems you’re encountering.

Ideally, though, a direct conversation with Amanda will turn out to be the nudge she needs to pull herself together (even if just because you’ll have called her out in a way she didn’t count on). It might take more than that, but I’d start there — and if nothing else, you’ll learn more about what’s going on and can adapt accordingly.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’m sure Alison’s advice is far more professional, but my initial instinct is to do everything via email and cc both your supervisor and Amanda’s on all communication.

    1. MommaCat*

      I think that would be best to save for a later step, if Amanda doesn’t back off. It could read as unnecessarily confrontational if LW leads with that step.

      1. Clorinda*

        You could start by organizing or following up EVERYTHING by email, but hold off on the CC to avoid seeming confrontational. That way you have a record if you need to follow through with bringing supervisors into the loop. I have a couple of co-workers I only ever communicate with through email, not because they’re saboteurs, but so that we both have the record that we’re doing what we need to do.

        1. MuseumChick*

          This is where I land. Follow up everything by email. Document, document, document!

        2. Emmykins*

          This! “Hi, just following up on our conversation earlier. I requested support for x which you declined to provide. I want to be sure we both understood that correctly” or some such.

          1. AKchic*

            Yup. This. Every conversation needs to be documented, even the verbal ones. Once Amanda is aware that all communications are being documented, she might very well start changing her tune.

        3. tangerineRose*

          “You could start by organizing or following up EVERYTHING by email, but hold off on the CC to avoid seeming confrontational.” This is a great idea!

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              I feel like the only reason to use BCC is if you’re sending to a huge list and want to avoid reply-alls or protect your recipients’ privacy from each other. Using it like this is an ambush.

      2. Emily K*

        If I was one of the supervisors this would backfire spectacularly. Spamming my inbox with unnecessary emails just to make A Point would annoy me and in all likelihood cause me to set up an Outlook rule within two or three days to file all your emails without reading them unless I’m in the To: field.

          1. Emily K*

            Why not? Detective Amy acknowledged in her post that it was unprofessional and not a real solution. I’m far from the only manager that would not appreciate being on the receiving end of a passive-aggressive tactic that resulted in my inbox becoming harder to manage when the conflict going on is not even my own.

            Maybe this is a difference in email volumes, but my report and I each send and receive 100+ emails a day. My report CCs me on emails when I need to be. If she CC’d me on everything she sent it would seriously hamper my productivity and effectiveness, and that would be her doing.

            If a junior employee was asking me for advice and told me one of their ideas was to CC two supervisors on every email to prove someone else is a liar, I would give them the same advice: don’t do this because there’s a very good chance you will just tick off the supervisors. Save the emails and present/forward them later if you need to prove something happened.

            1. Close Bracket*

              “when the conflict going on is not even my own.”

              The thing about being a supervisor is that sometimes you have to manage conflicts that are not your own. Say that you are Kate or maybe Amanda’s unnamed supervisor. LW has come to you showing that Amanda lies to you about LW’s actions. LW tells you that she is going to CC you on her correspondence to Amanda so that you know what LW has and has not told Amanda, and you will know if Amanda comes to you with untrue things. First that is not passive-aggressive. LW was upfront with you about what was going on and why she is using this strategy. Second, if you don’t appreciate being involved and find the CCs to be annoying, you are falling down in your supervisory role. You have a direct report (if you are the unnamed supervisor) who is lying to somebody else’s supervisor, or you have a person lying to you about one of your direct reports (if you are Kate). You *need* to be involved. This requires supervision.

              1. Hills to Die on*

                Exactly. It would hopefully get you to take a look at why someone felt the need to cc you on everything.

                1. Yorick*

                  If I were Amanda’s manager, this would not make me understand the situation. I might wonder why OP suddenly decided to cc me on everything, but without a conversation with OP about the problems with Amanda, I wouldn’t have any of the information I need to help resolve this conflict.

                  Have a conversation with Amanda’s manager before you start to just randomly cc them on stuff.

              2. Emily K*

                In the scenario described, it wasn’t mentioned that the report would go to her supervisor and discuss that she was going to begin CCing her on everything.

                There’d be no problem if my report came to me with this idea before she started doing it, because then I could tell her not to do it, that I had already told her I trust that she’s getting her work done, and that she can bring me in any time she needs to borrow my authority or throw some of my weight around but there’s no need for her to CC me on every single email she sends. Effective supervision doesn’t require me to be CC’d on every email by default.

              3. Beatrice*

                I’d appreciate being involved, but I’d really frown hard on being involved specifically by ccing me on *every* communication. I presume you can keep your own email documentation if needed, manage a relationship with the person on your own, update me in our 1:1s and involve me and provide backup documentation where necessary. (But for me, this solution also wouldn’t be for one or two emails a day…,my people are in email-heavy roles and it could be 100+ per day sometimes. That quickly gets untenable.)

    2. Tau*

      I wouldn’t cc anyone, but I’d definitely be tempted to start sending CYA/paper-trail type e-mails. Not great wording, but after verbal discussions send e-mails like:

      “Hi Amanda,
      Just wanted to confirm after the meeting today, you won’t be able to supply the llamas for our new llama taxi service. Please correct me if that’s wrong!”

      Maybe seeing it all in writing will make her back down, if not at least you have a paper trail of your interactions and any obstructions caused by her.

      The beauty of it: if Amanda pushes back against the e-mails, you can point to the conversation you had with your new manager about your tasks and responsibilities as proof that there have been issues with miscommunication and misunderstandings in the past. You’re just trying to prevent such innocent mistakes from happening again!

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I had to do this with a boss who was creating safety violations in my department. He emailed me a direction to purchase the missing safety equipment, then called me and told me I couldn’t fix it, and finally called his assistant to deny the purchase request.

        So anyone going through the paper trail would see that he’d approved the closure and purchase, and I’d disobeyed his directions by not following through.

        1. Manchmal*

          So, in that case, did you just press on with the purchase, because that’s what the paper trail indicated?

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I submitted the purchase request that was never filled, then I ended up making an unauthorized and probably unsafe repair to get the place back open without getting in trouble.

            I also reported the whole thing to HR and returned to my previous job since this one was a “temporary project help” sort of situation. I was done.

        2. Gumby*

          Follow up email: “Hi Boss, I wanted to verify that per our phone conversation on [date] at [time] you no longer want me to purchase this equipment. If I misunderstood, please let me know and I will put the order in.”

          Presumably denying the purchase request would leave its own trail. It might lead to the assistant rather than the boss, but probably not you.

      2. JediSquirrel*

        I tend to do this regardless of the situation, just to make sure I have my facts straight.

    3. London Calling*

      And keep a CYA file of everything you’ve sent and the replies where no-one else can read it.

    4. StaceyIzMe*

      Doing everything via email and following up on needed conversations via email sounds like a great start!
      Also, document the things that you have requested and that were declined.
      Finally, I’d omit trying to talk to your boss again. I’m not even sure it’s beneficial to talk to Amanda. It might be better and simpler to let her know what you need, expect her to follow through and go to her boss if she continues not to.
      Your manager is already MIA on this and took her friend’s word for it that you weren’t producing on your projects. You’re on your own here. Be vigilant, consistent and proactive. (But don’t buddy up or try to compensate. That’s a waste of time for someone who’s already being hostile, petty and sabotaging you actively.)
      Also, if there’s someone else on her team that you have good rapport with and from whom you can get some/ most or all of what you need, that might be better than working with her directly.

      1. R.D.*

        I disagree that the LW manager is MIA. How would you have had her handle it differently? Ignore it when someone tells her one of her reports is not performing?

        The manager received info that one of her reports, the LW, was not following through on work. She then had an open discussion with that direct report, determined that the info she received was wrong, and dropped the matter. Seems perfect to me. She was impressed by the LW’s work and dropped all discussion of her work ethic, but left the LW to work out her relationship with Amanda. I don’t see anything wrong with any of that. It was what I would expect regardless of the manager’s friendship with Amanda.

        Perhaps the manager could have called out that Amanda is sabotaging the LW, but she doesn’t have all the information that the LW does and it is a pretty big accusation to make.

        A conversation was warranted. I would want to know if one of my peers was complaining to my manager about me, especially if the information is completely untrue.

        1. Letter Writer*

          So, R.D., you’d recommend that I have a conversation with Kate about Amanda coming to her with complaints?

          1. Engineer Girl*

            I would. It’s concerning that Amanda isn’t approaching you with issues.

            Just beware: passive aggressive saboteurs will use excuses why they didn’t come to you. That is, you’re hard to approach, too busy, too intimidating. Oh, it’s never them. Oh no.

          2. R.D.*


            If you are going to assume good intentions here, I would assume them about Kate, not Amanda. There are certainly some managers who would not touch this with a 10 foot pole, but I think most managers would want to know that one of their reports is being undermined and sabotaged.

            From what you have posted, it seems like if talking to Amanda does not work, Kate is in a much better position to make this stop. Also, she brought the first issue to you, so hopefully that means she’s not afraid of a tough conversation.

            1. JB*

              “ There are certainly some managers who would not touch this with a 10 foot pole, but I think most managers would want to know that one of their reports is being undermined and sabotaged.” My beloved boss was completely conflict avoidant and I’m still affected by the way things played out in my situation.
              Talk to Kate.

          3. Observer*

            If you do have that conversation you need to be VERY VERY clear that your issue is not that Amanda came to her, but that Amanda came to her with incorrect information.

            Right now I’m dealing with someone who is quite good at what they do, but they are very sensitive about anyone “running” to their supervisor with any issue or complaint. HR actually has been championing for them, but this is going to blow up if they don’t put a lid on it. HR totally believes that people should always be able to go to someone’s supervisor if they feel they need to. Complaining about that is very bad look.

            “She complained about me” is not good. But “She *lied* about me” is a totally legitimate issue that any boss should take seriously.

          4. AKchic*

            Personally, I would want to know why Amanda isn’t going to her *own* supervisor. Why is she going to her friend to make these complaints? That’s not how the corporate structure is set up, and she is stepping on a lot of different toes here. This may be a case where Kate’s boss and Amanda’s boss’s boss may need to step in (are they the same person?). Or even HR, to remind Amanda of the corporate structure.

            Amanda will have excuses all day long, but at the end of the day, she is still running to her *friend* and not the appropriate people, and she is still taking out her frustration at not getting a promotion on the person who received the promotion and it looks like she is attempting to sabotage the person who received the promotion, thus tanking her ability to move up later on, and someone may need to remind her of that (and it can’t be you, because you’re the one she is working against). It needs to come from someone in a position to promote her.

          5. SorryNotSorry*

            One thing I’d be concerned about is that Amanda is also saying these things to her own supervisor (e.g. I couldn’t finish the report on time because LW hadn’t done X or Y yet).

            I guess it still makes the most sense to talk to Amanda first, but if that doesn’t work, I like the idea of going to Amanda’s manager with concerns about legitimate work things (like when Amanda doesn’t invite you to meetings and whatnot). Say that it has become a pattern, you talked with Amanda about it and haven’t seen improvement.

    5. Engineer Girl*

      I agree with this. I had a report that was passive aggressively not doing what I told him. He also made several false accusations.

      The emails provided clear and unambiguous proof he wa lying.

    6. Public Health Researcher*

      I agree! Amanda sounds awful. I’ve worked with someone like this (only once, thank goodness), and ultimately she was just a bad person who hated anyone more successful and hardworking than her, regardless of the mentoring and/or kindness she received at the hands of these designated “enemies.” I’m so grateful I was one of many, so it came to light fairly quickly and this awful woman was finally let go. This was in the private sector, so management was allowed to fire terrible employees. In my current government (and unionized) job, she would be protected to the point of it being impossible to fire her. After 12 years here, I know the score. In any case, if it had only been me who was targeted, I can’t imagine how lonely and threatened I would have felt. Hang in there, OP, and follow Alison’s excellent advice. Please update us on how things go!

  2. Oh, Bother!*

    Document, document, document! I have worked with ‘this’ person before and as they say in the military…Hope for peace; prepare for war. Start a journal and as Detective Amy Santiago says, start emailing everything and do not let her answer you verbally. Get it in writing. Good luck!

    1. Clorinda*

      Even if she answers verbally, follow up with a confirmation in email every single time.

      1. Rebecca*

        There are certain weasel-y people I do this with – as in, they call, tell me to do something, and I follow up with an email every single time “as we discussed, I did X, Y, and Z with the ACME account, please advise if you need anything further”. I’ve been burned once too many times over the years by people who conveniently “forget” things and I’ve been left hanging.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I once had a grandboss I did this with. They were notorious about replying to an email with a phone call, so there wouldn’t be any written record of the response. That way, they could pretend they had never said that thing, and “Oh, goodness, I don’t know how you could have gotten that impression, I meant the opposite of that the whole time!” So I stopped answering the phone when they called back. Our voicemail was sent to our email addresses as an mp3 file, so I had a whole flash drive of this person’s voicemails that I could pull out if necessary.

          1. Kaden Lee*

            oh man that’s a nice setup with the voicemail. My current boss does the exact same thing – send him an email, he walks down the hall to verbally respond. It’s an open secret he does it for the same reason your grandboss did, as a previous employee would immediately follow up all conversations with a documenting email and he’d get angry with her for it.

          2. Workerbee*

            The number of times grandbosses and above do things like this make me think I’m going at my career all wrong by trying to be accountable for my actions. (Typed half-sarcastically.)

            Our current system saves voicemails as .wav files in our emails; I agree that it’s awesome for multiple reasons.

    2. MuseumChick*

      Exactly. If Amanda tries to give an answer in person, cut her off with “Oh, please email me that information. It helps me stay organized.” Then follow up with an email of your own if (when) she doesn’t send the needed information. “Hi Amanda, just following on X. Let me know your thoughts.”

      1. Nea*

        This. I was training someone who professed complete innocence of something I had verbally told her the day before, trying to make it sound like I wasn’t giving her training at all.

        From that moment I emailed absolutely everything to her. She protested that we sat right next to each other, she tried to get me to talk business when we were away from our desks – and every time I informed her that there were going to be no other opportunities for confusion and a written record of all business discussions.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          “Oh, it provides a record we can both reference. It protects both of us.”

        2. As Close As Breakfast*

          I love the phrase ‘opportunities for confusion’ and will definitely use it in the future! I can think of a dozen different ways to say it from nice and helpful to stern with no chance of BS.

        3. Res Admin*

          oh what a flashback! I was training someone and providing every bit of helpful documentation I had accumulated over the years. The director and VP happened to walk by while she was taking a break and asked how she was doing… “Oh, I am so frustrated! No training and no documentation!” Ugh! Last time anyone would agree to train her after that.

    3. sofar*

      Co-signing this! Also, our workplace makes lots of use of Google docs/sheets, which is GREAT for documentation. I worked with an Amanda (months of “hmmm that’s weird” occurrences, including leaving my name off the joint gift card for another coworker, followed by general uncooperativeness and attempts to throw me under the bus). I did a lot of creating Google sheets and adding my boss and “Amanda’s” boss as viewers. “Based on what we discussed in the meeting, here’s who owns which task! Please mark your progress as you complete.” The best part is that you can see the revision history, in case Amanda makes edits/deletes stuff.

      Plus, obviously, doing all communications and follow-ups via email. Slack allows people to delete their messages, so it’s not ideal.

    4. yala*

      I tried suggesting that with a coworker that I was often having problems with (including her once giving me incorrect instructions that I got written up for following). I was told by both my supervisor AND hr that it was unreasonable to ask for, and that part of being a professional was being able to communicate (verbally, I guess) with my coworkers.

      It could be because we’re only a few cubicles away. But still. Sometimes that makes it look hostile.

      1. MuseumChick*

        What a crappy boss and HR! In a situation like this, I think its best to ask for forgiveness rather then permission.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          That seems better to me as well.
          Maybe don’t actively avoid verbal conversation, but definitely make sure you have written records.

          If your manager asks after it, you could always explain that you want a written record for yourself to avoid situations like the one that got you written up (which is the truth). Since that was clearly A Big Deal, and you don’t want those mistakes to repeat again.

      2. Eukomos*

        Well sure, it’s not the best way to communicate. It’s a great way to document misbehavior, though, which is the actual purpose. If they want to prevent you from documenting it that way then it’s their job to find you another one.

    5. Documentation is key*

      I have actually given my direct reports explicit instructions to document and email all conversations with clear action points for specific teams/individuals within our department which have been notoriously ‘forgetful’. It’s saved us from blame twice this week already as they forgot to do what they agreed to and it caused major fire drills.

  3. the_scientist*

    I’m with Ian Fleming on this one: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

  4. Letter Writer*

    LW here…I haven’t been documenting up to this point, but that’s a good step. I’ve been hoping there was some way to repair the professional relationship so that we could work well together, but after reading the reply and seeing it all in black and white, I don’t know that’s possible. A bit sad to me because I thought we would work well together. CC’ing feels like it might aggravate the situation but I’ll have to move to that if the pattern persists. Thanks for the suggestions around it!

    1. MuseumChick*

      Hi LW,

      If you feel comfortable, use Alison’s script and talk to Amanda. Document that conversation, I would even suggest a follow up email. Document ever interaction you have with her. The date, time, what was said, who was present, etc.

      After that, it’s time for a talk with some combination of the following: Your boss, Amanda’s boss, and HR. With your tone being, “I want to do my job. This is preventing me from doing my work at the highest level possible. I spoke to her about it but nothing had changed.”

      Please keep us updated!

      1. Psyche*

        Exactly! If you meet with your boss and Amanda’s boss the message should be “I need X and Y from Amanda in order to do my job. Amanda has refused. Do you want to talk to Amanda about how I can get X and Y or do you want to rescope the project?”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      As the saying goes, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Amanda is a snake in the grass, so wear long pants while in her territory [pants = documentation here].

      As you move further up in an organization, the more likelihood someone is going to come for you in hopes they can “dethrone” you and it’s best to always be over prepared!

      1. Game of Drones*

        Documenting saved my fanny once when I was an intern in a corporate PR department. I’d written a news release for an event in standard 5W style and my older colleagues tore it apart and made it into frivolous ad copy. When it came time for my performance review I scored low on writing skills because of that single piece, but was able to pull the original out of my CYA drawer.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Argh, a whole other topic/axe to grind over snotbags who wait until a review to say “oh and BTW your skills are cruddy, see this here example?” instead of being adults and proactive, they could have saved themselves that issue and brought it up to the people who messed with it if they had brought it up as soon as they flagged the issue with your project.

          But I’m glad you covered yourself. I delete nothing. I rarely need to pull out receipts but if you want to try me, do it, I’m ready. Usually it’s only for my own peace of mind but I’m not a bus speed bump.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            My old manager waited 10 months to tell me at my review, “Yeah, we never told you the expectations for your new role, but you’ve failed at them.”

            I left within 2 months.

            1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

              You should have just used your STREET SMARTS

              Seriously though, how could she lay it out like that and not realize that she was failing as a manager, not the other way around? I am glad you left.

            2. Mercurial*

              This exact thing happened to me! 6 months rather than ten. It’s soul-destroying. Well done on leaving (I did maternity leave instead and oldboss left soon after my return, never knew what happened).

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Documenting saved my butt once too. I think I’ve shared this before, but I was in a position where people in my position used to do a thing. That thing was outsourced to a different group and my position was specifically told, multiple times, in writing, NOT to do the thing.

          We supported another department and the manager of that department wanted me to do the thing. I refused. She went and complained to my manager, who came to my desk and told me to do the thing. I said, fine, I’ll do it, but only if you put it in an email to me that you’re directing me to do the thing. My manager did so and I did the thing. The other manager was seriously annoyed and told my manager that if he wanted to complain about me being insubordinate, she would back him up.

          The next day, grandboss sent another email reminding my position that we were not supposed to do the thing under any circumstances. My manager told me he got chewed out for making me do the thing. I did not get in trouble for doing the thing.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            So, what, the ‘manager of the other department’ ignored you when you forwarded the writing that said you should not do the thing? So very weird, I hope got a talking to as well.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              The manager of the other department thought that “this was a special circumstance” and shouldn’t count.

          2. JJ Bittenbinder*

            I had a similar-ish situation where I was told to present A Concept at a meeting. I presented The Concept and my team lead came to me, extremely upset about what had I done because he got in trouble for not running it by his manager.

            He had the nerve to say to me, “Why did you do that??” The look on his face as I flipped through my notebook and said, “You told me to. When we met on Month Date, you instructed me to get on the agenda for X meeting and present The Concept.”

            ::sputter sputter::

            Like The Man, Becky Lynch above, I document everything. You will not win a documentation war with me. Ever.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              Yep. Ask my soon-to-be-ex-husband how well things are working for him going up against a documentation pro.

            2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              I had a problem boss who requested copies of all my meeting notes under some false pretenses because mine were so good and I was catching errors of his.

              I started taking them home with me lest he steal them from my office.

            3. Michaela Westen*

              A few years ago I thought my boss was going to have a breakdown. He was more and more absent and distracted, a workaholic who doesn’t manage himself well. Also there’s personal history that’s not great, and he pretends it didn’t happen.
              Every week I make a list for my meeting with my boss, and a list of what I need to do. I started saving them every week on a flash drive in case he ever tried to throw me under the bus to save himself, so I could show 1. I tried to get direction, and 2. What I was directed to do.
              That didn’t happen, but I still save my lists. Twice in my time here I’ve had other managers try to cause trouble for me. You never know what might happen.

          3. Cheri*

            This same situation happened almost exactly to my best friend. Their department used to do a thing, then got told not to by TPTB. Several people continued to do the thing both on their own and because jerk boss told them to. Friend refused to do the thing and was written up for doing so. Several months later thing became a major problem and over 3/4 of the department was fired for doing the thing. The only thing that saved friend was that write up. She was rewarded with 6 or 7 workdays a week for over three months because they were short staffed. Yes, the whole place was full of bees.

          4. Annnnnonymous*

            I save most emails except meeting invites. I’m considered a “Super User” for Outlook at my company (there’s a few of us) because I have so many damned emails.

            That habit of saving literally everything also saved me from an ugly situation where a report went to someone that it shouldn’t have gone to. I was asked by a VP to send the report to the unsuitable person. I – being newish and not knowing protocol – agreed, but didn’t get around to doing it fast enough to suit him, so he sent it himself. Cue alarm bells from the person who received it and went, “Uhhh, I don’t think I’m supposed to send this!” and he reported back to management.

            Cue me being called in (door closed – rising panic) and asked, “Hey, did VP ask you to send this report?” I – not knowing any better and I don’t lie anyway – replied that yes, I’d been asked but so sorry, I hadn’t sent it yet, should I send it now?

            NO NO NO NO DO NOT was the answer…and then I found out what happened.

            The VP who actually sent said report, when questioned, protested that *I* had sent it. Repercussions for something like this veer into DSS investigation territory. In other words, A Very Big Deal.

            Nope, into my saved emails we go…where he cc’d me on the email where he had, indeed, sent the report to the person who shouldn’t have gotten it and I had NOT.

            I never got so much as an apology from the VP. (The person who asked me about it was very apologetic and noted that I was new, and I wouldn’t know, and obviously when a VP asks you to do something, you do it.)

            I’m still vaguely pissed off about it, because that investigation would have been opened in MY name.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I save all my emails too. There’s no reason not to. I haven’t had anything dramatic happen, but they can be handy when you need the original version of a file sent to you – as I did yesterday – or to look back at what you did with this project 6 months ago, or other such reasons.

            1. Magenta*

              Yeah, not a great euphemism to pick! Sounds like a child talking about her vulva, really not a good look for an adult.

              1. jackalope*

                It’s a pretty common euphemism in the US, as is the expression. I know words mean things differently elsewhere, but you can’t judge someone by the standards of your location when they speak a different version of english.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  No it isn’t. I’ve lived in the states my whole life, all across the country but mostly in the north, and I’ve heard “saved my butt,” “saved my rear,” even “saved my ass” but I’ve never in my life heard someone use the word “fanny” (except Stephen King when he named a character that in The Stand and I thought it was weird even without knowing that the Brits use it as a synonym for lady parts). Is it a southeastern thing?

    3. StaceyIzMe*

      You’re making the same mistake that your boss did, who is friends with “Amanda”- you’re acting as if her basic intentions are friendly and this is a blind spot. It’s not, she’s hostile and you shouldn’t continue to wait for further evidence in order to take basic precautions like documenting, following up with your boss in 1-1 and approaching others when (not IF, but WHEN) you need to escalate. It’s hard to see someone who is friendly to your face as a hostile agent. But to review- she’s denying you access to an office, meetings, materials and support needed to do your job AND she lied on you. She has shown you who she is and you should definitely believe her.

      1. Important Moi*

        Yes. Yes! YESSS!!!!

        The overall tone of anything I write would be hostile, so I won’t say anything else.

      2. MtnLaurel*

        Yes, this is so very, very important to remember. Trust but verify. Follow up and be sure that your worth and contributions are known. I was in this very same situation. I naively though that my good work would speak for itself. It didn’t because my Andrea undermined everything I did and told my superiors that my work wasn’t good (when in fact it was). My position was eliminated, yet Andrea’s remained. it became obvious after i left, but at that point it was too late for me. Document and have witnesses.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Exactly this (+ everything MuseumChick and Detective Amy have mentioned about follow up and documentation). I think OP is at the point where they need to remain professional and calm, but they also need to assume Amanda harbors ill will. And if she keeps trying to sabotage OP, then OP’s going to need to be ready to have a C2J talk about how Amanda is putting her (Amanda’s) own job at risk by sabotaging OP/the team.

    4. Artemesia*

      I know someone who was instrumental in getting someone a job at their firm and who is now having to deal with their hostility and oddly obsessive and destructive behavior — it seems astonishing that someone would treat someone who helped them out like this, but it happens and not just to you.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I had a similar experience with a former friend, whom I recommended when my employer was looking for freelancers to fill contract positions. Things were okay during the first week or so, but after that, he became increasingly avoidant and basically completely shut me out. He ultimately left with only a few days’ notice to take another contract somewhere else, without even telling me he was leaving, and which trashed my credibility for a while about referrals.

        Thing was, he got the new contract through his best friend, who made him an employee of the best friend’s contracting company. And after a year or so of working (during which he repeatedly badmouthed me about all the things I’d supposedly done to him, none of which I’d actually done), he began flaking out in exactly the same way! He got fired, almost got his best friend fired (because he was best friend’s employee), and it was basically just a huge flameout that cost him all his friends and contacts.

        I was belatedly vindicated because I was like, “SEE! That’s what he did to me!” I was friends with the guy for 10 years! His best friend had been friends with him for almost 20! Some people, man, you just wonder.

    5. R.D.*

      When you had the conversation with Kate, did you bring up your other issues with Amanda? If she doesn’t know the whole story, she probably is interpreting the whole thing as a misunderstanding instead of sabotage.

      1. Letter Writer*

        I started to, but realized that it was sounding almost retaliatory/petty in that particular conversation…almost a “oh she complained about me? well wait till you hear what she’s been doing…” That said, I do have a meeting scheduled with Kate to talk about the working relationship with Amanda. I just needed some time to think about how to frame it and, of course, to get some good advice. I do think Kate will step-up to the plate with this issue if I am careful about how I approach it with her, even though I think she’s been hoping it will just work itself out.

        1. ket*

          Yes, you do need to be careful. Approaching everything as if there could be a good and innocent explanation but you just can’t think of it, while being very open and transparent, is often a good bet.

          “I expected to be invited to the llama-herder meeting as I’m on the project, but I was not invited — did Amanda forget? Does she have too much on her plate, or is it a communication issue?”

          “Amanda said she’s not able to get me those documents on time, and of course we need them to complete the fox proposal. I know I’m not in a managerial position so it’s hard to address this directly, but if Amanda’s overworked or has tasks beyond her current abilities it’s really important that she get some additional support — could you take that up with her manager?”

          “I understand her desire to reorganize this workflow, but doing so in this non-collaborative way has actually cost us $2,000 in delays. If Amanda would like to be in a leadership position with respect to workflow efficiency, it would be really important for her to start thinking about the key goals of the project and how to keep the budget in mind.”

          1. tangerineRose*

            “Approaching everything as if there could be a good and innocent explanation but you just can’t think of it, while being very open and transparent, is often a good bet.” This!

            And don’t cc your manager on everything to Amanda unless your manager asks you to, but do keep the e-mails from and to Amanda for documentation in case you need it.

            Sometimes meanies like Amanda will back down when this is brought up directly with them as Alison suggested, and it’s a good idea to try.

            1. That'll Happen*

              If you’re really worried you can always BCC your boss on anything that you want her to see. That way, Amanda won’t know you sent it to someone else.

        2. RandomU...*

          I think this is a good approach and you were wise to stop the conversation when you did.

          I don’t fault Kate so much for backing out when she realized you didn’t have a performance issue. I’m trying to think of what I would do in Kate’s shoes, and it would probably be the same approach, more or less. After finding out you were doing what you were needed to do work wise, I’d probably back off to let you work out the working relationship. Although I think I would have probably given a few pointers or perspective and left the door open for you to return if things continued to degrade.

        3. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Very good that you stopped yourself from going down the (often alluring) Oh! And another thing! road.

          My advice: frame everything in terms of how it affects (impedes) your ability to get your work done. “I was not invited to the Llama Herder meeting, where I expected to get sign-off on the next Llama Show. Because of this, I had to [X, Y, Z]” and “I was not given access to the share drive, which I need to enter the Llama Rodeo spreadsheets and create the Rodeo Report.”

          Repeat as needed.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            And be sure to make it about the overarching picture — not just “this and this and this.”

            “I’m finding that the work support I need from her is not coming through, and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate it. What I’ve tried so far hasn’t been successful. Here are some of the things I’m running into:”

        4. R.D.*

          That makes perfect sense. Bringing that sort of thing up without being prepared can come off very easily as either whiny or defensive and retaliatory.

    6. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Please stop that. You can’t repair it because it isn’t broken. It is changed. Amanda changed it.
      She went from collaborating, to hindering, to sabotaging.
      You can’t make her stop being petty, vicious, insecure and immature because you didn’t make her that way. She is choosing to act that way. There is nothing you can do to work with her. And you can’t work around her. So work through her.
      Which will require more effort on your part, but if you let go of the idea that the star and rainbow is going to appear over head with the tagline, The More You Know! and she is going to see the error of her ways, then you will have more time for it.
      Good luck.
      Honestly, I’ve been there. Working well is the best revenge. I’m still here. She’s gone.

    7. animaniactoo*

      At this point, I would suggest NOT having the conversation as a simple meet-up, but rather e-mailing and saying “Hi, we seem to be having some miscommunication about what our individual responsibilities are and what our level of collaboration should be. I’d like to meet with you to thrash that out and get us on the same page. Do you have time this week to do that?”

      Because I think that Alison is wrong in her first step here *only* because you can go into that meeting as kind and warm and friendly – but you need to start setting the framework ahead of it and you need to start documenting ahead of it.

      In that meeting, I would suggest to her that for now the two of you make sure to document all your requests and agreements on collaboration. If she resists this, that’s your moment to say “I’m sorry, Amanda – but you went to my boss about this and I need to take it seriously that you felt it was enough of an issue to do that. For both our sakes, I think it’s necessary that we have some documentation while we work the kinks out of our collaboration efforts.”

      And essentially, what you’re saying there is a multi-level message “Hey, you went to my boss and there are going to be some results from doing that” and “Hey, I see you, I know WHAT you were trying to do, and I’m not going to take it laying down, don’t think you’re going to get away with doing it again” AND “Hey, if you think what I’m doing is such a major issue, you should be happy to have this documentation.” because “Hey, I’m not going to buy into a petty feud/vendetta, I’m going to remain professional about this and handle it in a professional way.”


      And then, if that is not sufficient to start tamping this out, take all that documentation that you gather – and ask for a meeting for the 4 of you. You, Kate, Amanda, and Amanda’s boss. On the basis that there seems to be misunderstanding between you and Amanda about the expectations for collaboration and how your roles interact and that you have tried to resolve it with Amanda but it’s not working out and you would like to get a bigger picture meeting and make sure that everyone has the same understanding of what is supposed to be happening and what adjustments may need to be made for the teams to successfully work together.

      Because at that point, Kate’s already aware there was an issue, but approaching it piecemeal – going back to Kate, going to Amanda’s boss, etc. leaves too much time and wiggle room for somebody who is trying to sabotage you. It’s much harder to manage it if everybody is in the same room and the proof is on the table.

      And you can do it all remaining relatively warm and friendly in your approach and tone and communications – while you keep a main eye on boxing her in and preventing her from sabotaging you.

      1. animaniactoo*

        btw – if Amanda continues to refuse to document from her side, the answer to that is “Well, I wish you would because I think it’s a good way to make sure we’re on top of everything. However, if you don’t want to that’s up to you, but please be aware that I will be doing it from my end going forward.”

        That’s your “warning shot across the bow” basically to say “I don’t need your agreement and here’s your fair warning that it’s going to be happening so you might want to lay down the guns.”

      2. cmcinnyc*

        YES on the time element. Running from pillar to post, documenting, talking to this boss/that boss–this is *also* sabotage. It’s a lot of work! You can be professional, kind, warm, open–however you are–with Amanda but you cannot let this waste your time. You just got promoted! You have a lot of other work to do. Be as lovely as you want to be but the goal is to drop-kick Amanda back into line.

    8. Rebecca1*

      There is absolutely nothing extreme about documenting. I do it as much as I can, in all jobs, just as a memory aid.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Same here. It helps me concentrate in the moment, and I don’t leave a meeting thinking to myself, “Now, what the hell was I supposed to do next?”

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      Does someone take minutes at your meeting? Making a note that you asked for stuff is something that should show up there.

    10. Nesprin*

      Lets assume that Amanda is not actively trying to sabotage you and all actions to date are misunderstandings. Documentation helps for this as well- the clearer your communication is, and the more easily accessible at any given time by all interested parties, the fewer opportunities for things to fall through the cracks. So email chains >> phone calls. written reports >> chats. Couple this with a friendly attitude and an assumption that she’s acting in good faith.
      On the other hand, if Amanda is out to get you, then documentation becomes your shield against future accusations.

      1. MtnLaurel*

        And this is a win regardless of Andrea’s motivations. It will help you in the end.

    11. Food Sherpa*

      To quote Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, Believe them the first time.”

    12. Observer*

      Loop your boss in before you start cc’ing her. Start by talking to Amanda, and putting stuff in email, either to start with or as a follow up. If things don’t improve, let your boss know what’s happening and tell her “I’m going to start cc’ing you so can see for yourself what’s going on. If we’re lucky that might ever get her to stop.”

    13. EPLawyer*

      Ahh but you have been documenting. That spreadsheet is documentation of everything you’ve done. You just need to add the times she turned down requests for help going forward.

      BTW, if you do have the talk that Alison suggested, seeing that spreadsheet may give Amanda pause. She probably thinks you don’t have any proof but your word that you are working on things. She figures your word against hers and her manager friend will believe her. Knowing you have documentation will be a kink in her little plan.

    14. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think others see it as more aggressive while CC-ing people’s managers is fairly normal at my company so maybe my view is skewed–but I really think if someone has a demonstrable pattern of not replying to requests for information then CC-ing their manager is a very reasonable next step. To me, the point isn’t to tattle or anything, but that the manager 1) is now aware that you are waiting on information from their report and 2) might be able to get you the information themselves. And I do recall one person in particular at my company a couple of years ago who responded noticeably faster and more reliably to requests that his manager was copied on!

    15. Zona the Great*

      LW, I hope this helps. I was Amanda once. When I was very young and immature. My manager started doing all the things folks are suggesting here. I was mad as a wet hen at first. I took it out on her even more. But when I realized she wasn’t going to stop cc’ing bosses and emailing me after every.single.interaction, I broke down.

      I changed 180* and I never ever went back. I find that I’m a celebrated employee who is often an example of professionalism. I will always praise her in my head as the person who taught me the most.

      Think of this as being the absolute kindest thing you can be doing for Amanda. She burying herself into a hole and you are working to make sure she stays above ground where we all should be operating. I’m mortified when I look back on that. My manager was so so kind for doing what she did.

      1. Letter Writer*

        I think weathering the wet hen phase will be a challenge but I do really appreciate this perspective, Zona the Great, thank you!

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        Out of curiosity, what was your motive for undermining a colleague? I know this might be difficult to reflect on, or to put into words.

  5. Lance*

    For this level of issues, I’d be tempted to put Kate in the loop sooner rather than later. After all, the door’s already been opened given OP disproving Amanda’s reports to her; chances are fair that more of the same could be accomplished (to which end, as people say above, document; you want specifics to give her to be the most credible) even through a ‘how should I deal with this?’ type conversation, rather than ‘deal with this for me’.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thanks, Lance. Alison did recommend that as a next step if I am still concerned after talking to Amanda. It will be awkward but but asking for coaching about it might be necessary for both Kate and I to address the situation. She is a good boss and I think she wants to help, but the personal relationship makes it complicated for her, too.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Please still be concerned after talking to Amanda. I think you should use the talking to Amanda as step one of your long term plan to deal with this. Then move on and share the results with your boss and with her boss because this is really a THING, not a small issue.

      2. Close Bracket*

        When you loop in Kate, you should loop in Amanda’s boss, too. In short, Amanda is going to your boss, you should go to Amanda’s boss. That’s sort of tit for tat, but the more nuanced version is that escalating problems to somebody’s boss is common. The best plan is to address it with them directly first, which Amanda has skipped with you but which you should do with Amanda. In some places, the correct escalation is to complain to your own boss, who then complains to the offender’s boss, and in other places, the correct escalation is to go right to the offender’s boss. Either way, if talking to Amanda directly doesn’t work and you need to escalate to a boss, include Amanda’s boss as well as your own.

      3. ket*

        You don’t need coaching, you need her to do her job! Don’t make this interpersonal. Keep the focus on the work. Unfortunately, interpersonal conflicts get dismissed as “personality problems”, and _you_ might be the one seen as the problem. A kind and gentle mystified air as to why Amanda won’t give you keys, won’t give you documents — keys and documents are _objective_.

    2. Me*

      I was going to say the same thing.

      Do the sit-down with Amanda, but first meet with Kate. Explain your concerns and what your plan is to address the “misunderstandings” and improve the working relationship. It makes you look good and acts as a CYA.

      Then if, and I suspect when, Amanda doesn’t change and goes to Kate with tales of your aggressive accusations and out of line talk, Kate knows what actually happened and will hopefully see Amanda for what she is.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think this is a nice prelude to the conversation with Amanda. Go to Kate and say “I’m concerned with Amanda’s statements about not getting the support she needs from me, and I want to make sure that’s not an issue going forward. I’m planning to have a conversation with her about that so she and I can make sure we’re on the same page and supporting one another in the way we both need. Do you have any suggestions for things I should bring up in that conversation?” It shows Kate that 1) You’re a team player who wants to do what it takes to make the organization succeed, and 2) You’re serious about being on good terms with Amanda. From there, it makes it easier for Kate to see what’s happening if Amanda keeps complaining to her about you.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This advice provides great scripts and tactics/strategy.

  6. M from NY*

    Kate doesn’t get to come to you with a complaint and then fall back on the needed follow up. If her friendship with Amanda allowed her to come to you with a professional complaint then she needs to be held to the same standard to correct the misconception (or outright lies) that Amanda put in her head.

    I would cc Kate on follow up with Amanda regarding Amanda’s refusal to cooperate (& bcc Amanda’s actual supervisor). Going to her one on one gives Amanda additional time to play passive aggressive games. Make your email clear and directly state 2-3 items you need from her team in order for YOUR TEAM to complete tasks that tie into bigger goals of the company (i.e. so HER boss can see that its not that you are looking for completion on vanity tasks but you are looking out for the productivity of your team). Make her look like the non team player she is for denying your requests.

    I wouldn’t bring up the promotion issue but if she does act incredulous that someone that you helped get a job thinks they are senior enough to jump ahead of you. I wouldn’t expend any additional energy on getting her to like you but she needs to respect you.

    In the meantime, there are ways to ensure that those in decision making capacity are reminded of your value to the company and why they gave you the promotion in the first place. Spend your energy doing the appropriate face time with them.

    1. 1st time commenting, yo*

      This stood out to me too – Kate brought an issue to you, then when you disproved that she just…let it drop? Shouldn’t she have then spoken to Amanda’s manager? I bet she would have if they weren’t friends. After all, she confronted you, why not her? I think I’d go to HR with this one.

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        Going to HR for this isn’t a good idea. Amanda is out of her lane, but her hostility is impacting LW, not totally sidelining her. Documenting, taking each issue as it comes, networking around her if possible, showing up as professional and competent are good ways of managing it at this level. LW’s own manager is in the mix on this and not in a good way. Working through the wrinkles one at a time without getting too wrapped up in the negative energy is probably going to be the best course of action (and the most sustainable one). Going to Amanda’s boss, when needed, would be a good next step. Only if both managers are MIA long term and the hostility increases would HR be a good next step (in my view, admittedly, and another person’s mileage may vary considerably).

      2. DJ*

        We are assuming what LW meant was that Kate dropped it forever. I took it was, “Kate dropped it as an issue in our meeting.” For all we know, Kate is looking more in depth, and talking to Amanda’s boss. But she might not inform LW about that at the time.

        1. Letter Writer*

          You are right. I think my boss was caught off guard, confused, maybe even embarrassed that there was such a discrepancy between what had been shared by Amanda and what I was able to show as my work. I think she let it drop because (at least in that moment) she didn’t know what to do with it. We have a meeting scheduled to talk about it soon though.

          1. Human Sloth*

            Please update after the meeting!

            Your letter brought out some PTSD from a former job. I thought I was over it, but it lingers. I was young and inexperience in the office “warfare” and never stood up for myself. I left the job with my tail tucked. I am so hoping you come out unharmed and hopefully vindicated.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Yup. The more I think about it the more Kate and Amanda being good friends bothers me. Did Amanda complain formally or was it more like over a couple glasses of wine during ‘girls’ night?”

        Amanda was proven a liar but Kate just let it go? It’s not a personality conflict, and by the way if OP and Amanda were males would it be looked at that way…doubtful (internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug) …Amanda is a proven liar.

        I know a good manager is supposed to be able to keep the lines separated, but in reality I think it needs to be one or the other…don’t cross the streams.

    2. irene adler*


      I kinda wonder if the ‘report’ was Amanda kvetching to Kate about the OP. And then Kate decided to ‘help’ her friend by looking into the matter. Nonetheless, Kate needs to do the follow-up on the matter, now that she knows the facts of the situation.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I don’t think it was kvetching, I think it was a strategically planned and timed attack on LW. LW had been in the position long enough that projects were started and completed, they’d worked together enough that Amanda could have legitimate concerns, and Karen bought it straight up.
        It wasn’t “gee, LW really changed since she’s been in the position. She’s hard to work with now.” It was “LW never does X, left me hanging on Y and does Z all the time.”

      2. Me*

        Unfortunately when you are a manager, it changes friendship relationships with colleagues. Off-hours “unofficial” kvetching about someone does become a report. That part is fine. It’s the dropping the ball afterwards that’s a big problem.

        I also think Amanda is counting on her friendship with Kate to get one over on the LW.

        1. irene adler*

          I also think Amanda is counting on her friendship with Kate to get one over on the LW.


    3. Combinatorialist*

      But if all Kate can see is Amanda’s complaint and the OP’s disproving of the complaint, going to Amanda’s manager seems a little over the top. It isn’t over the top with what we can see (from the OP’s perspective) but what is Kate supposed to say to Amanda’s manager “your report made one unfounded complaint about my report”

      1. Letter Writer*

        LW here…our organization is very hierarchical – it would be a huge affront to my new manager, Kate, if I went directly to Amanda’s manager and certainly HR. I’m in a new position, still building relationships with those above and lateral to me and it could backfire on me to try and go outside of my chain of leadership. I think I need to at least try to work with both Amanda and Kate, first. And document!

        1. Combinatorialist*

          Oh, I didn’t mean that you should go to Amanda’s manager right now — just that if Kate had only seen the complaint and not the other stuff, it didn’t seem unreasonable that Kate hadn’t taken just the complaint to Amanda’s manager.

          1. Cat Fan*

            No, but she should have circled back to Amanda to ask what’s up. Why did Amanda tell her things that weren’t true?

        2. LaDeeDa*

          If I were Kate I would have called Amanda into the meeting to show her the work you had documented her and then say “LW has provided this comprehensive list of projects and deliverables, is there something not covered here that you feel LW has missed/dropped the ball on/that you have had to do.”

          This really isn’t for you to be “fixing” on your own. But since your manager hasn’t done that, start with Alison’s script, and after the meeting, follow-up by email… “Amanda, thank you for meeting today to discuss XYZ. As we agreed going forward I will… you will… we will…”
          I wouldn’t copy anyone on it at this point, but if you feel it is appropriate, you might consider forwarding it to your boss saying “Based on our conversation I met with Amanda to discuss …. and we agreed to the following solutions… I am confident this has gotten us back on the same page!”
          Always CYA and always take a positive tone when conveying things like this to your boss, Amanda is going to shoot herself in the foot by not doing what she has agreed to do, or by misrepresenting what is happening.
          I think we have all had some sort of Amanda type in our lives. Good luck!

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          But… Amanda just did that to you.

          I think it’s good to start with Amanda and Kate, but one question for Kate might be, ‘what does Amanda’s manager think about this?’

        4. Arts Akimbo*

          But… was it not, then, an affront to the hierarchy for Amanda to go directly to your manager? I guess I’m not quite understanding how the system is supposed to work in your office. Or did Amanda get to “skip” the hierarchy because of her friendship with Kate?

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            “Or did Amanda get to “skip” the hierarchy because of her friendship with Kate?”

            This is my bet.

        5. M from NY*

          You have to reframe how you are seeing this. As others pointed out Amanda went to your supervisor with her alleged complaint. Looping Amanda’s manager regarding your real issue isn’t usurping Kate as Amanda doesn’t report to her.

          It would help to stop viewing this as a personal issue when it isn’t. You are a manager having a documented issue with another manager. Bringing all of the affected parties to the table makes it clear up front what the agreed goals and level of expected cooperation are between your teams. If Amanda brings up her allegations in front of her boss you’ll be able to pull out spreadsheet which will force Kate to acknowledge your position.

          Having meeting with just Amanda and Kate allows Amanda to say anything knowing that Kate doesn’t really have power to discipline her. Your email (or meeting) isn’t about getting Kate in trouble but forcing Amanda to be held accountable. You get one shot to catch Amanda off guard. It’s time to play defense.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            All of these things.

            If it would be an affront to Kate, then reach out to Kate to follow up and mention you’re planning to raise this with Amanda’s supervisor. That way Kate is on notice, but you’re enlisting the appropriate people for assistance in squashing this.

  7. Derry Murbles*

    I sort of work with an Amanda. Apart from our boss, we’re the only two full-timers in our department, and she was promoted to full-time a year before me. When I came on, I didn’t perceive any issues but my boss (hired shortly after me) let me know that my Amanda was complaining about petty things I was perceived to be doing. She was singling me out and holding me to a different standard than the rest of the team. Our boss, trying to mean well, was listening to her complaints that I think that was letting my coworker think these complaints had validity.

    Finally, myself, my boss, my coworker, and my boss’s boss had a sit-down that would be final step before formally going to HR. I was open and apologetic for anything I may have done on my part. My coworker, though civil, refused to engage and just very quickly apologized and never shared her reasons for why she was singling me out. Since then, we have gotten on well, and the behavior appears to have stopped. But some Amandas may never admit why they act the way they do.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thanks Derry Murbles, I think you’re right, I don’t think I am ever going to get a straight answer on why. Fingers crossed that it works itself out the way yours did.

    2. Legal Beagle*

      Going to LW’s boss is definitely taking a step further into sabotage/undermining. I would be furious if my boss brought me such a complaint, and then after I had done the work to disprove it, just let it drop. Amanda should be told in no uncertain terms that her complaint was inappropriate, and she needs to cut it out.

      PS. I love your username.

    3. milksnake*

      I can’t agree with this enough. I’m also dealing with an Amanda, and no matter how the issue is addressed she never admits anything is wrong, but as soon as the meeting is over she turns around and complains more. My director has admitted she complains, and singles me out, but she refuses admit it or discuss why.
      It’s exhausting.

  8. RandomU...*

    Actually, I’m not sure the OP should do anything differently here than what they have been doing.

    It sounds like the information they had was sufficient to put the issue to rest with their boss. Anything more will look defensive. This is pretty typical behavior for people who are either stinging because they applied and didn’t get the position and/or for former peers who are now trying to figure out the new dynamic.

    Since Amanda has taken this to the next level and is refusing support, the answer is to do what you would do if it were any other person in your organization. If that would be to go to that person’s boss then do that. If it’s to go to your boss do that. The key is to remain factual and unemotional whatever direction this takes you. It’s very likely that the friendship will never be repaired, so the best you can hope for is civility and professionalism.

    1. Game of Drones*

      If Amanda is pulling that stuff, she’s no one I’d want for a friend.

      1. Letter Writer*

        Thanks Game of Drones and RandomU…I do think part of what’s been tripping me up is that this isn’t just a random coworker, but someone I helped personally and with whom I have a personal relationship (albeit pretty new). I was looking forward to working with them and really hoped to find a way to repair things, but that seems unlikely and maybe not even desirable now.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Please remind yourself that some people are just bad and opportunistic narcissists. That doesn’t reflect badly on you and you did the right thing to try to help someone.

          I drill at this just so you don’t think twice before you help the next person, this is not normal healthy behavior, most people you help will be grateful and not try to stab you in the back like Amanda is doing. It’s easy to get blindsided by a wolf when they’re so darn good looking like a sheep at first.

          1. Jules the 3rd*


            You can maintain a professional relationship, but let the personal relationship go.

        2. Legal Beagle*

          It sucks, but I would be very careful around her now that she’s shown her true colors. Don’t confide in her, keep it strictly professional, and document as others have said. It sounds like you went above and beyond for her, but unfortunately she’s not giving even basic decency back to you.

        3. What’s with Today, today?*

          I was on a civic board with a lady in town that I really liked and had somewhat of a personal relationship. She started working in my company three years ago, and I now hate everything about her. Working with her day in & day out is a very different experience than the monthly board meeting and/or lunch I was used to with her. You just never know.

    2. Me*

      Usually the first step is talking with the person not going to their boss. Skipping that step, unfair though it is, will make the LW look a lot like Amanda. Essentially it’s complaining about someone going over your head with issues and then doing the same thing. Unfair but there it is.

      Most bosses want to see that you have attempted to solve the issue and are now seeking help.

      1. RandomU...*

        It depends… I wasn’t suggesting she go to the boss over the interpersonal stuff. More about the work things. It depends on the culture so that would definitely have to be taken into account. But it sounds like Amanda flat out refused a request for something that was responsibility of her team. If that is the case then it’s perfectly reasonable to go to the boss of the team and ask who is the resource.

        That’s why I recommended taking the interpersonal stuff out of the equation. The OP should proceed like this is Bob from accounting or Wakeen in Sales, so however she would act/interact with if one of those hypothetical people refused to support.

        1. Me*

          I am referring to the work things. It’s really normal to be expected to resolve problems first – it’s not weird business culture, its’ business norm. None of what the LW talked about is interpersonal issues – they’re work is not getting done issues. And while I lean strongly to Amanda is a jerk and her complaints are completely invalid, she clearly at least thinks she has issues. It’s worth for the sake of resolution to acknowledge that LW *may* being doing things in her new role that are causing problems. Not out of malice but perhaps not out of knowing all the processes. No one ever knows what someone else’s job encompasses unless they have done it. She needs to attempt to resolve the issue directly with Amanda first.

          To Amanda boss: I asked Amanda for x and she refused.
          Amanda’s boss to Amanda: I’m hearing this, why?
          Amanda: I needed those resources for more pressing y and z.
          Amanda’s boss back to the lw: Those resources were committed and weren’t available. Next time you need to talk directly to Amanda to try to resolve this.

          It’s just not a good look for the OP to have tried nothing to resolve the issues directly with Amanda. It’s not about feelings or friendship. Alison’s script is spot on. It’s a worse look to elevate something to an outside manager without engaging your manager directly first.

          1. RandomU...*

            Again it depends. It could just as easily be this:

            To Amanda boss: I asked Amanda for x and she refused.
            Amanda’s boss to Amanda: I’m hearing this, why?
            Amanda: I needed those resources for more pressing y and z.
            Amanda’s boss back to the lw: Hmm yes, Amanda’s now working this other priority that I gave her… until that project is complete please go to Fergus with your request.

            I do agree to a certain point that the LW could work with Amanda more if that’s what she’d do with other people. But even if there wasn’t an interpersonal dynamic sometimes it’s necessary to go to the other person’s boss. This is the whole point of my post. The OP needs to compartmentalize the interpersonal issues and proceed as she would with anybody else in her organization.

  9. T*

    Sounds like she played nice to use you to get what she wanted (a job), and now she’s showing her true colors. People like Amanda are highly annoying to work with, but eventually they cook their own goose. Alison’s advice is spot on and if you at least attempt to talk to her and it doesn’t work, then it shows your boss you tried. Time to take the gloves off and CYA with documentation like everyone is suggesting.

  10. Lepidoptera*

    LW, you see like an earnest and good-hearted person, so as a misanthropic cynic I want to be gentle with you.

    Your wording (both in the letter and in your comment replies) implies that you want to proceed in a way that assumes good intentions and misunderstandings all around, so you can get back to your previous camaraderie.

    That’s not what this is. Amanda was friendly and personable when her goals aligned with yours, and became a snake in the grass when you turned out to be an obstacle to her goals. If she was truly the person your tone seems to want her to be, she would have been able to be happy for you despite her disappointment–and she certainly wouldn’t have thought to sabotage you.

    You need to reboot the way your brain treats this entire experience. Amanda is not a friend gone astray–she is someone who has only now revealed herself to be deceptive and conniving. Mourn the old Amanda if you must, but that skin has been shed.

  11. Wren*

    This was a very worthwhile column. My initial instinct was not to approach Amanda out of fear of escalation, but I see now how approaching her this way can work, and does not close off or put you in a worse position if other measures are needed.

  12. milksnake*

    I feel like I could never accomplish Alison’s advice for this one… If I was in LW’s shoes I wouldn’t have it in me to go to Amanda and initiate a “warm, curious, concerned” conversation. I’m in a similar situation with someone who’s refusing to communicate, and my director want’s me “to try talking to her, and use a soft approach.” This person is unwilling to work with me and spreading rumors that I’m unqualified for my position.

    How do you go into a conversation like that and not be honest? Being soft and warm to someone who is cold and causing you distress feels like putting on an act and dancing around the real issue.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s easier if you assume there really might be a genuine misunderstanding — something you don’t know, or something she misunderstood.

      You also do it because that’s the person you want to be known as at work — the calm, professional, unflappable one.

      And you do it because you know it’s so much more effective.

      But if none of that resonates, then it’s the “revenge is a dish best served cold” thing. You do it not to be nice to Amanda, but because it ups the chances of you coming out on top.

      1. Letter Writer*

        THIS. Because this is the type of colleague and employee and professional I want to be. Even though I am not super hopeful it will change the relationship, even though I am not sure I can pull it off, still, I don’t think I can move forward without it.

      2. milksnake*

        Thanks Alison, my issue has been going on for years, which may influence my reaction to this post, because I’m exhausted with the situation. I just want my issue to stop being an issue so we can get the work done, and get it done well.

        It’s not really about revenge and I don’t really care if it’s a misunderstanding at this point. I want to be the calm, professional one but I also don’t want to continue tolerating someone sabotaging the team because they’re bitter I got promoted. Trying to discuss it calmly feels like playing into their immaturity and validating their lies when I really want to say “enough is enough, this needs to stop.”

        What’s the nice way of saying “I know you don’t like me, but we have to work together”?

        1. animaniactoo*

          “I may have the wrong impression, but it seems like I’m not someone you’d ever want to go have lunch with or get a drink after work. That’s entirely fine. However, both of us need to be able to work together well enough to get what we need from each other and get our jobs done. Let’s talk about how we can make that happen. What do you need from me that you’re not currently getting?”

          if there are any protests that of course they like you just fine or whatever, you don’t debate it. “I’m really glad to hear that. However, something still seems to be getting in our way, so let’s run it down and see if we can solve it. What do you need from me that you’re not currently getting?”

          1. animaniactoo*

            If it’s not you, but your team or some such, then change that to “from our team, the company, etc.”

            And then follow that up with “Why is doing X which is a core component of what we need from you an issue for you? Is this something we need to talk about managing a different way?”

            Same process afterwards of following up with documentation and the suggestion that both of you document to make sure that you’re on the same page as you work to smooth out the issues that have been occurring and be able to identify any choke points, etc. and correct them.

          2. milksnake*

            “However, something still seems to be getting in our way, so let’s run it down and see if we can solve it.”

            This is a piece I’ve been missing. Talking about it with her gets me “I’m fine/nothing/no, there’s no issue” when there obviously is an issue and I haven’t known how to respond to that. It’s frustrating and that’s where I want to say “Okay well obviously there is and issue, so let’s stop pretending and lay our cards on the table” but that’s not warm or friendly.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Yeah, the key here is that you can’t declare that you know her feelings/motivations/etc. despite whatever she says to you. It would be offensive if somebody did it to you, especially if their take on it is a mistaken reading. So you don’t want to debate that. What you want to do is talk about what seems to be happening regardless of how anyone feels about anyone and figure out how to resolve it.

              If she says “really, there’s no problem, nothing’s getting in our way”, that’s your moment to say “I disagree. I repeatedly have problems when I ask you for X or Y. Often Z happens.* This is a problem because it creates issue 1, 2, and 3 for me, and therefore this is not currently working in a way that produces good results for the company. What I want to do here is figure out how we can improve this and make it work better. So, from your perspective, what is usually the reason that Z happens when I ask you for X or Y?” Take that, brainstorm at the moment if you can ways to combat it, go off to think about it some more with a request to check in a few days later. Be on the lookout for something like the possibility that she might need more resources to do what you want and that’s frustrating for her but not anything she can do anything about other than work on some other high-priority thing and get back to you after that and it’s really not about you at all.

              *Or whatever the most consistent primary issue is.

            2. Batgirl*

              Those are her responses!? Oh dear she’s a mere child lost in the woods who only knows how to act out. Play her some possible solutions and if she stonewalls everything, she’s stonewalling her own grave. As animaniac suggests just document it afterwards in an email ccing the boss. “Hi all, nemesis and I met up to discuss the issue of x after you flagged to me that nemesis was unhappy with current processes. I suggested possible solutions y and z but there seems to be some miscommunication – nemesis was quite sure that the current process is working fine. I want to be absolutely sure though so can we have a group meet as we seem to need some help getting to the bottom of the problem?”

              1. Bulbasaur*

                Yes, this is good advice. The important thing about being professional is that it aligns you with the interests of the company, so that by working against you she is also working against the company. That means if it comes down to an outright confrontation, you would win. You then proceed to signal that you intend to force said confrontation (justified as resolving an issue that’s impacting the business) by using a progressive set of escalations, ideally while also offering her a face-saving way to climb down.

    2. Important Moi*

      Focus on being pragmatic and (try to) remove your (entirely justifiable) feelings.

      If you must have a conversation say “I’m going to be the best co-worker to you I can.” End of conversation.

      Do your portion of the work. Communicate via email (or whatever) such that you can show you’ve been being supportive and doing your part as evidence. Only you know if you need to CC these communications.

      You don’t have to be friends. You have to be cordial and polite.

      Water your own garden. Talk to people about what you do and how do it so rumors aren’t the only thing people can use to determine your qualifications.

      1. milksnake*

        That first line made me chuckle, thank you.
        I never thought to talk about myself as a way to combat rumors. (I was raised on “hard work speaks for itself.”) I think I will try to be more vocal and transparent about what I’ve done/what I’m doing and maybe that will take some of the power away from her narrative.

        1. Important Moi*

          I’ve dealt with my own situation. “Watering my own garden” came to me after doing pretty much everything listed in this entire thread and having the other person’s behavior not change. Hard work does not always speaks for itself. You have to talk too. Not brag. Talk.

          I learned that many others weren’t blind to my contributions or the other’s person’s behavior. The other person and their narrative was more powerful in my mind than anywhere else. The other person did not look as good to others as I assumed. That gave me satisfaction. (I’m human.)

          In my case, I’m now pleasantly guarded with the other person. We don’t talk much, but when we do I[‘m not worried anymore.

    3. LaDeeDa*

      I may not always believe best intentions were at play, but I try really hard to approach the situation remembering that in most cases people do have good intentions. So, even if I don’t believe it, I give them the chance to explain their intentions. People who are trying to undermine or sabotage, it will come out, and if I have approached every situation professionally, not accused anyone of anything, and covered my butt fully with documentation, my reputation will still be in high standing.

    4. Batgirl*

      Yeah its called poker! You won’t get a look at someone’s cards if you scare them into folding not showing.

      Either Amanda is gathering her war room and is prepped for hostility or Amanda has some innocent-but-badly-handled problem that can be cleared up with directness. Alison’s approach is disarming in both situations.

      There’s always a *chance* that there’s a misunderstanding or you’ve offended them somehow, so more investigation is needed. You can’t go straight to DEFCON1 just because you are suspicious. Equally you can’t go straight to someone’s boss without having a civil face to face first (exactly the mistake Amanda made; she makes lots I would wager)

      And yeah, you have to be civil and present as a professional who will always assume the best until you know more. That’s not being fake.

    5. animaniactoo*

      You do it by focusing on what you really want out of the meeting: Not that she acknowledge what she’s doing or that you know what she’s doing (which, yeah, you want those – but not as much as you want the BIG THING), you want to get her to stop.

      So you go in armed with your presentation of what it is you’re looking to solve, the “surface problem” of “We seem to have a miscommunication problem” or “I’d like to alleviate any doubts you have about my ability to do my job” or “Hmmm, you seem to have a mistaken impression, give me the opportunity to show you what I can do” and because it is much harder for her to accuse you of being unreasonable when you are speaking reasonably and not making accusations. So what you’re really doing is denying her an additional opportunity to create a problem for you.

      If you need time to think about what she’s proposed or brought up, say that – don’t let yourself get caught into agreeing with something because you feel like you’re on the spot to agree to it.

      Go in with strategies of what you’d like her to do differently than she’s been doing – have a problem with a report you did? Please come to you and ask for corrections rather than redoing it herself or asking someone else to redo it. Or discussing whatever problems you had with it with other people but not with you. Have a problem with the number of requests you make? Come talk to you about how to reduce the volume or bundle them together in some form that is more manageable for her. But don’t escalate it to your boss/whomever until she’s tried working with you about it. Document with you where she’s had issues so that the two of you can try to see where the overall issue is and what possible solutions there might be for it/them.

      And by all means – protect your back when you come out of it by documenting how the meeting went. “Hi Sayvil, thanks so much for meeting with me today and going over the issues with my handling of requests/the Johnson account/your need for better Y. As agreed, going forward I will Z, and you will X to make sure that things run more smoothly.”

      Basically, you are putting the most civil, polite, friendly face on your determined program to box her in and prevent her from being able to do or say anything about you without it reflecting badly back on her.


      Note: I’m a major proponent of the benefit of the doubt. Giving the benefit of the doubt can often gain you an easier mindset and an easier path to what you’re trying to achieve. I’m also a huge fan of risk assessment and determining what risks are acceptable – the likelihood of them, the severity of them, your willingness to live with the most severe possibilities, in part based on how worthwhile and likely the possibilities of what you might gain are. Part of that risk assessment also includes damage limitation.

      From a damage limitation aspect – you walk in and are cold and direct. How likely are you to make things worse for yourself?

      If you really need to, you can be warm and friendly to yourself and the world in general, and curious to see how she’s going to react or what she’ll attempt next, in order to project that appearance.

      1. Letter Writer*

        Thanks animaniactoo! Yes, the BIG THING is I just want her to stop so that I can do my job well. I appreciate your thoughtful advice around the conversation with Amanda.

        1. M from NY*

          The thing is she may not stop. She may be at heart a nasty miserable person incapable of acting like a well adjusted adult at work. And you have to be ok with that.

          Instead of setting soft tasks you want her to stop so you can be friends, focus on measurable tasks you need her to do regarding work and your team. For example “in department meeting it was discussed need to have more input from my team on TPD report yet when I asked to schedule meeting you refused to set date. Are you going to include your statement in your report that timeline doesn’t allow for this input so it’s clear why the requested input didn’t happen?” This makes it clear you are ready to hold her accountable for her inaction and cut off future (ongoing) opportunities for her to sabotage if in next meeting you are asked why your team didn’t provide input. If you are not directly needed but are scheduling these steps for your team be clear “Susan actually handles xyz” so any attempts from Amanda to make it seem like an interpersonal issue are thwarted.

          Workplace bullies like this thrive on others constantly giving them benefit of the doubt. You likely would never behave this way with someone instrumental in getting you a job. You have to accept that she is not you and adjust your expectations regarding her behavior while you still can. I think it’s misguided to attempt meeting with intention to have it end with you being friends. Demanding professional respect should take priority and frankly I wouldn’t trust her if she suddenly started acting friendly.

          1. Luna*

            Well, if Amanda is really that type of person and won’t change her attitude or behavior at work, she’s likely going to end up losing that job. Not being a team player should usually not be the reason to fire someone, but only if they are good at doing their job, in general. Since part of Amanda’s job includes working well with LW and their team, her being incapable of doing this means she’s bad at doing her job — and that’s just one way to fix the problem permanently: cut the pulsating growth off the company tree.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        “denying her an additional opportunity to create a problem for you.”
        I love this! This is a good way to live. Don’t give people opportunities.
        IME this is also the thing with abusive people. Get away from them and take away their opportunities to abuse you.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is a “kill them with kindness” sort of thing. You drip “sweet”, “calm” and “understanding” so they feel it seep into their pores and watch their cold, dead heart start to shriek in pain.

      Just like when someone says “Bless their heart”, that’s not at all a blessing you want to be on the receiving end of.

      You come out looking good to bystanders, you always want to think about the bystanders, those are the ones you really care about how they feel about you in the end.

      1. milksnake*

        This is definitely a perspective I have been missing. I’ve been so focused on fixing the damage she’s done to my reputation, I haven’t considered the damage I may be doing by showing frustration.

        I don’t think my feelings are unwarranted… but that doesn’t change what bystanders see.
        Thanks for the help in widening my point of view.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          One of the goals when learning about your communication style through DISC, Insights Discovery, Tracom, etc, is understanding how your behaviors are perceived by others. And on our “good days” we project XYZ, on bad days- when we are frustrated, overwhelmed, feel unvalued – certain behaviors come out and those behaviors are perceived by others as LMN.
          For example— if you know DISC (if not you can search it) if you identify as a strong red – on good days you are perceived as direct, decisive, a doer…. when you are having a bad day those same behaviors that make you direct, decisive, and a doer get stronger and more rigid, and when that happens they can be perceived as domineering or demanding.
          Being self-aware of how we behave when we are having the bad days helps us be able to channel those behaviors into something that is still perceived well.
          Often when people take these types of behavior/communication assessments it is presented as a way to communicate with others, but I always approach it in coaching and leadership development as a way to better understands ourselves, our behaviors, and how we react in the bad times.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It feels like putting on an act because it *is* putting on an act. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that putting on an act is always a bad thing. We all have to be actors sometimes if we hope to move through our jobs without burning bridges we might need someday. In a situation like this one, the bridge you need isn’t necessarily your coworker, it’s your director. You’re not being nice to the coworker in this conversation because you want them to like you or because you think you can win them to your side. You’re doing it because you need your director to see that you can put aside your personal feelings and do what’s best for the organization. Using that soft approach isn’t for your coworker, it’s for your reputation.

      1. milksnake*

        I needed this perspective. Thank you.
        I don’t want to make my Director’s job more difficult. He’s just as tired of this as I am, he’s agreed it’s petty and shouldn’t be an issue.
        The problem is she and I still don’t have a working relationship, and the team is still struggling. I feel like I’m stuck trying to build up around her because she’s unwilling to work with me.

        1. Michelle*

          If you directors knows it is a problem and agrees it is petty, why hasn’t he stepped in or had a conversation with her? Honestly curious.

        2. M from NY*

          You are long past not wanting to make Directors job difficult. Please ask for him to sit in on meeting with a prepared agenda to walk through the specific issues with your co-worker. Director will not act if you allow him to continue to frame as personal issue that will resolve itself. Make it his issue so he has to make it clear to co-worker that business as usual will no longer be tolerated. If director refuses you should honestly start looking for another job. It will be Directors own fault if he loses multiple employees due to refusal to deal with the bad egg.

          You will never win with people commited to misunderstanding you. Being told you have to continue to extend goodwill you’re not receiving is not healthy on professional or personal level. I’ve been in your shoes and while leaving sucked it took being away from the dysfunction to fully see nothing I could do would change those with different agendas. If bosses refuse to support good employees then they deserve to lose them.

          1. bleh*

            So simple: “If bosses refuse to support good employees then they deserve to lose them” So impossible for people to see or act upon.

  13. Jennifer*

    This after you helped her get a job there. No good deed…

    I agree with ccing management on every email.

  14. irene adler*

    Makes me wonder about the friend who asked OP to help Amanda with getting the job. Did she know the true nature of Amanda?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would assume that she didn’t know. I’ve known Amanda’s and they’re darn good at hiding their back-biting until they’re ready to unleash. So the Mutual Friend probably never had anything Amanda wanted enough to start this catty behavior.

      If I had a dollar for every time someone says “What?! She’s so nice to me and we have so much fun together, I simply cannot see her doing this kind of thing.” I would have a lot more nice things ;)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oh, this is a good question.

      OP, do you still talk to that friend? Could you discretely ask about her experiences working with Amanda and find out if this is an ongoing thing?

      1. Letter Writer*

        I subtly tried. The most info I got was that Amanda hasn’t been fully happy in previous positions and that our mutual friend is hoping that the job with my organization will be a better fit.

        1. MuseumChick*

          I might wait to see where the chips fall with this before telling the friend what is going on. I place a 70% chance on Amanda not changing you needing to escalate this. If/when that happens then I think its appropriate to tell you friend in a “just the facts ma’am” tone about Amanda, “Hey, this is kind of awkward but I consider this to be professional courtesy to let you know that has been going on. Things have not been going well with Amanda. (Insert details of her behavior).”

        2. Close Bracket*

          I always find the phrase “the common factor is you” to be a little diminishing, but I bet at least part of the reason Amanda has never been fully happy stems with her and her expectations and not the jobs themselves.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Yeah, it does feel like a “wherever you go, there you are” type scenario. When you get a new job, you’re still the person you were before, just working at a different office.

        3. Oranges*

          It might be that the previous positions were a bad fit but, I’m guessing she has unrealistic expectations of how work… works. Case in point: she thinks sabotaging is a good idea. She seems to have no resilience to being disappointed. That’s not gonna serve her well.

        4. Batgirl*

          That’s quite ominous in hindsight. Do you think reference checking never happened?

        5. DJ*

          I hate to be the one to bring this up, but there is a good chance Amanda is also badmouthing you to this mutual friend. What that means for you I don’t know because I don’t have enough details to help but it is something to keep in mind.

  15. Rusty Shackelford*

    I don’t know why anyone is calling this passive-aggressive. It sounds downright aggressive to me.

    1. Close Bracket*

      “Passive aggressive” is a term that distinguishes from being direct. Amanda’s behavior is passive aggressive not because it’s not that bad, but because it is all subterfuge.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But she’s not sticking to subterfuge. Yes, she’s made difficult for the LW her job while leaving herself plausible deniability. But she’s gone beyond that. She’s going directly to people the LW works with and saying “I’m doing a lot of her job.” That’s pretty aggressive in my book.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Yes, it’s aggressive. I’m not disagreeing about that. I’m explaining that the reason people are calling it passive aggressive is bc Amanda is not going directly to the LW. She is going around her. It’s indirect rather than direct.

          This isn’t just splitting hairs over wording, either. Indirect vs. direct behaviors have different names bc they have different behavioral roots. Understanding the differences is crucial in adopting strategies to address the behaviors.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            At our most recent meeting, Amanda denied several of my requests for support and collaboration and I left feeling incredibly frustrated and worried that it will reflect poorly on me. She and I both know that I can’t do my job without her – collaboration between my team and hers is essential.

            Amanda is sitting there in a meeting saying “no, I won’t support you.” That’s pretty direct.

            1. Batgirl*

              It does break the highly indirect pattern and was directly addressed to OP, but opposition and non-compliance are fairly textbook PA behaviours. Instead of saying “I have a problem with you because of x; oh look an opportunity for you to defend x’ – what you get is ‘No I just can’t because Reasons. Pout.’ The problem remains a mystery and Amanda’s mood is blamed on the OP when OP isnt there.

  16. Great Grey Owl*

    Out of curiosity, would it be a good idea for the LW to give her friend a heads up about Amanda? I know that I would be very unhappy if I asked a friend to help a colleague find a job and the colleague repaid her by stabbing her in the back. I also would want to know so that I did not do any more favors for this colleague.

    1. Me*

      Eh. I think that risks getting into shoot the messenger territory. Only do so if you are willing to risk damaging the relationship.

      I too would want to know, but in the same breath I would not tell unless asked. Many people take it as a reflection on themselves. Along the lines of not hearing Bob turned out to not be a good fit but rather This person we hired is a jerk, you recommended them ergo you have bad judgement/taste/etc.

    2. May for Maybe*

      I would not. What is the friend then mentions the conversation to Amanda. It could really blow up. There is no plus side on giving her friend the heads up until this matter is much more firmly resolved.

  17. austriak*

    Amanda does not report to you or Kate. You should have a frank but professional discussion (focused on facts) with Amanda’s manager. Even though you out rank her, she doesn’t report to you so you are limited on what you can really do directly. I would go to her manager and outline the issues you are having. If Amanda has a good manager, they will take care of it.

  18. Lilysparrow*

    A kind, direct talk with Amanda also puts her on notice that lying to Kate isn’t going to work, because you and Kate compare notes.

    Though I do wonder if it’s going to affect Kate’s friendship with Amanda now that she knows Amanda lied to her.

    It should.

  19. Madeleine Matilda*

    I’ll echo other comments – document, document, document. I worked with an Amanda many years ago. She was rather incompetent, but liked to blame others for her lack of ability. Once she complained to our grandboss (not even our boss) that I had refused to order some supplies she needed for a meeting she was having. My boss, Amanda, and I met. Amanda said in the meeting that I said I wouldn’t order the supplies she needed. I replied that I said I couldn’t order them (because it was the end of the fiscal year and the finance office had cut off our ability to order anything). Beyond that I had told Amanda that I thought we had the supplies in stock and where she should look. (I was leaving on travel and didn’t have time to look, but was right that we did have them in stock. Amanda didn’t look just went to complain, although another co-worker found them for her before her meeting.) Luckily for me, I didn’t get in trouble but my boss gave her stern talking to about 1) not looking, 2) not letting her (our boss) know because the boss could have had another office send us the supplies if we out of stock. This was par for the course for Amanda. She blamed our timekeeper for making an error that the timekeeper never made but that Amanda made. It took hours of the timekeeper’s time to untangle that one. She was part of a two person team who did our very simple closing tasks every night. Not once did she ever do it right the first time and when the other person on that team finally had enough and snapped at her, she filed a complaint against him for snapping at her. The moral is always document around Amandas otherwise they will twist things to their benefit.

    1. UKCoffeeLover*

      I’ve been there with an Amanda too, and you’re right, they act like this because they are incompetent and often jealous of your success. My situation ended badly for me as I was too trusting of this woman. By the time I realised it was too late, and I was the one who got the blame.

  20. Sunflower*

    I’m suspicious about Kate’s qualifications as a manager. This whole thing reads to me that she isn’t great at handling personal conflict at work. Is Kate new to managing?

    I think requiring the LW to put together a spreadsheet of all the work shes done is an extremely weird reaction to Amanda’s claims. A good manager backs up their staff- Kate of course should have still approached LW about the situation but I think a simple conversation could have sufficed. Kate requiring LW to fill out this sheet reads, to me, as taking Amanda’s side over LW’s. And now Kate has chosen to excuse herself from the situation? This is not a personal relationship issue. Amanda’s refusal to play nice is hindering the organization’s work and success. IMO, if LW was unable to get her work done over this and people started asking questions, it would not look good to see that Kate was aware of the issue and didn’t step in. I’m confused how this spreadsheet even vindicated LW- if Amanda claimed that she was doing the LW’s work and that work also ended up on LW’s spreadsheet, then why did Kate choose to believe LW NOW?

    I think Amanda did unofficially tell Kate about the situation, Kate doesn’t know how to handle navigating this stuff and shes making a few wrong steps. LW- I would have the suggested convo with Amanda and insist everything going forward be handled over email so there are no further miscommunications. If Amanda is still not cooperating, take those emails to Kate and explain you thought you had a clear communication about moving forward but it’s not working. It doesn’t have to be confrontational- you are requesting guidance from your manager on how to make a work process more efficient. I think Amanda gets one more chance to fix this. I wouldn’t go to Amanda’s manager- although I think it’s hilarious she had no problem going to yours! If you are at the end of your rope after this, I’d suggest to Kate that looping in Amanda’s manager may be a problem solver. If she doesn’t want to do that, unfortunately your hands are tied and I’d try to avoid working with Amanda if possible. Just keep doing everything over email!

  21. FormerExpat*

    I’ve noticed that it is kind of “a thing” for folks, especially relatively early career (that may or not be the case here), to get the idea that the key to advancement is to make the higher ups look bad. That strategy hardly ever works, and in the long run, I think most people who try just make themselves look bad. This may not be super helpful to you, OP, but it’s her, not you. She may think that this is the way to move up, but I’ve never seen it work.

    1. Close Bracket*

      > I’ve never seen it work.

      I’ve never seen it fail. So there you go!

      1. irene adler*

        It works because folks take the word of an Amanda over verifying the facts themselves. Happens a lot.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          Yes, but I think it can backfire eventually. Those are the people who reach a certain level and then are scandalously discovered to be incompetent . . . Or they get over-confident, do something truly ridiculous, and get caught. Others probably get away with it until they retire, unfortunately.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It depends on the structure of the organization. If your boss knows what you do and that you’re doing your job, they don’t digest the nonsense lies they are told. If your manager is hands off, cowardly and unsure of who to believe, then it can work to the complainers advantage easily.

      In this case, it’s working somewhat because someone approached the OP and demanded proof they’re doing their job. Whereas it doesn’t seem like they’re demanding proof from Amanda that she’s doing the OP’s job, that’s backwards and weird and not a healthy structure to be apart of in my experience.

  22. Michelle*

    If Amanda is not from your region (which prompted a colleague to ask you to help Amanda) how did she and Kate get to be close, personal friends so fast that Kate would take her at her word and ask you to make a spreadsheet of your work?

    Please update us if you have the convo with Amanda and let us know if things improve!

  23. I coulda been a lawyer*

    I’d like to suggest an additional strategy. After you follow Allison’s advice, but not too long after, ask her to do you a favor. Nothing big – would you do me a favor and hold that door for me? Oh, please remind me – what was John’s title, the teamlead at Other Company? This was Ben Franklin ‘s way to make friends, by flattering them just a teeny tiny bit by asking for a small favor. (I love your shoes … please do me a favor and tell me where … I LOVE food/art/scarves from (country/ethnicity) … please do me a favor and tell me where you found it … etc etc. just once or twice.

  24. Anon Anon Anon*

    I think this is beyond the point where having a direct conversation would help. She went behind your back and complained to your manager about you, what she said was fabricated, and she didn’t try to talk to you about her concerns first. Unless there’s some kind of sudden change in her behavior or an apology, she’s lost her right to a direct conversation. I would instead go up the chain. Tell your manager about it. Document everything, as others have said. And make it about the logistical issues, not Amanda herself. You don’t even have to refer to her by name. You can just refer to her team.

    “I’m having a hard time getting staplers from Team Z when I request them. I forwarded you some of the emails I sent them, and the unexpected responses I’ve gotten when I get anything at all. Could you please take a look and let me know if I should be wording things differently? Or maybe I should be going through their manager instead?”

    “I received an unusual email from Team Z this morning. It said something about my desk being moved to the basement? Could you please take a look and verify this, and if it’s accurate, can you let me know what the business reason is? Thank you.”

    Oh, and this is a good time to start letting phone calls from Amanda go to voicemail and conveniently not being around when you might see her in person. You need all communications to be in a form you can keep and share with others if need be.

  25. JSPA*

    Use collaborative phrasing:

    “We sometimes seem to be working at cross – purposes. Let’s investigate how that’s happening.”

    “I want to be mindful of any mixed signals, incompatible competing demands or unwritten additional requirements that impinge on our job-flow. What additional context, prioritization, documentation or intangibles do you need, from my team or yours, to keep our process running?”

  26. Luna*

    If Amanda doesn’t stop her behavior, I would not only talk to Kate about this, but also to Amanda’s manager. You say she doesn’t answer to Kate, but someone on the same level as her. This is the if case, but if talking to her doesn’t work, you need to inform her manager, since it’s their job to be aware of problems in their team and how that team’s members act and work with others.

  27. Workfromhome*

    You don’t want to go overboard with CCing people but I think that when you follow up with Amanda regarding her “denied several of my requests for support and collaboration ” that you CC your manager Kate.

    It should be framed in a manner where you are confirming that Amanda won’t do what you asked and what the impact is of her denial. Its giving her a chance in the email to explain why she did this BUT by CCing your boss you are covering yourself.

    Something like Hi Amanda . I just wanted to confirm our meeting so that I can plan properly. I requested 4 hours of time form your Sheep Shearer to help with the wool reclamation project. This would help meet our deadline of May1. You said you were unable to allow them to assist so we will be paying an outside Sheep Shearer $1000 in order to meet the deadline. Please let me know your thoughts on how we can schedule things in the future to avoid incurring these outside contractor expenses. ”
    If you CC your own manager no one can question why you are explain why you are incurring the costs or the issue the refusal to collaborate causes issues.

  28. ECHM*

    If you don’t want to BCC your manager, could you at a minimum BCC your personal email so the documentation will be offsite?

  29. UKCoffeeLover*

    Sadly, I too have been sabotaged by an Amanda. Document everything, be good at your job and don’t let her get you down. Always remember, it’s her, not you !

  30. jojo*

    This happened to me before. I had to save every email and messeged items in case something blew up. I pretty much knew where she would try to throw me under the bus so I cc my boss (We cc alot so that was not an issue)
    Another thing that I did was say ” I heard from someone that you said x and x and I wanted to make sure there was not an issue between us” This puts them on notice that their shading dealings are being reported and it stopped them cold. Sometimes they think what they are doing will be anonymous and they will continue to do it. Once they know that the boss is saying who it is they think better about it.

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