Comments on: I didn’t know my former coworker was so disliked and now I’m worried Mon, 29 Nov 2021 14:51:49 +0000 hourly 1 By: DireRaven Mon, 29 Nov 2021 14:51:49 +0000 I find myself identifying with Chris. I had developed a poor reputation at work due to being lazy, disorganized, and having poor time management (and it didn’t help that I didn’t really know what I was doing and was not given help because I was expected to know it, although I had never done that particular job and deadlines and priorities were always shifting.) I made so many mistakes they started giving me “busy work” – tasks that really were meant to take my time but had no impact on the department and give the real stuff to my coworkers. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and treated for those (nice, vicious cycle there) but nothing improved and I was still being constantly criticized. I end up moving out of that position and between leaving there and starting the new position, I am diagnosed with ADHD, medicated and treated (which is an ongoing, constant thing – and my current colleagues know and will tell me early on if my performance is declining, as that usually entails a medication and/or accommodation and/or coping mechanism adjustment). However, the job I had right after diagnosis was excellent until someone from my old job arrived in a supervisory position over me – and suddenly I went from being a top performer to being on a PIP which was used to justify terminating me (I fought back in a way but knew there was no hope of keeping the job, accepted the termination under different terms from what they wanted – straight out firing, I got the company to medically retire me, which kept my medical insurance eligibility for life)

By: Reality.Bites Sun, 28 Nov 2021 04:05:48 +0000 In reply to Patrick.

And REALLY safe to assume that if you start making awkward jokes to people about them talking about you behind your back… they will start talking about you behind your back if they weren’t already.

By: eisa Sat, 27 Nov 2021 18:46:33 +0000 In reply to Littorally.

Amen to the last sentence !

By: eisa Sat, 27 Nov 2021 18:43:23 +0000 In reply to HeavensToBetsy.

LW: I understand your desire for reassurance; however I’m seconding “do not ask your coworkers if you are liked”. Whatever their opinion about you may currently be, that question will not improve it.

You are not wrong to feel that something is off with your coworkers though.
Some commenters have critiziced you not denouncing Chris for his failures; however: all those people who now come out of the woodwork to complain about how terrible Chris was were not exactly vocal about it while he was still there and it was still a problem, right ?
No kvetching around the water cooler, let alone trying to address the issue in a productive way ?
It seems sort of … immature or passive-agressive of them to start the water cooler talk now.

What you should take away from this :
Your coworkers are somehow .. unusual
Yes, they might talk shit about you after you have stopped working there (if that ever happens) but you won’t know it, so ..
If they have a problem with your work and keep shtum about it, it’s on them, not you.

Roll your eyes, try to be less invested in their opinion of you, and maybe trust them a little less than you previously did.

By: Sasha Sat, 27 Nov 2021 10:32:19 +0000 In reply to JSPA.

She’s still not likely to get an honest answer though – this manager is pretending to Chris the post is already filled rather than giving honest feedback.

By: RebelwithMouseyHair Fri, 26 Nov 2021 08:05:45 +0000 In reply to Just J..

Fact is, nobody said anything before Chris left, so why would they say anything about OP?

What I find strange is why OP thinks her colleagues might be saying things about her. Do they have genuine reasons to gripe about her? They certainly did for Chris, yet they didn’t badmouth him before and just don’t want him back now, that really doesn’t sound like a toxic environment. Maybe OP is simply assuming the worst because she’s never known anything else?
And I find it even stranger that she wants to stick up for him despite admitting that he was lousy at his job.

By: Jenn Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:32:50 +0000 In reply to Green Beans.

Well said

By: BabaYaga Thu, 25 Nov 2021 11:22:15 +0000 The more you make every single mention about Chris about you, the more likely it is they WILL start commenting behind your back how exhausting you are. Your behavior looks very much like fishing for compliments, they feel obliged to say “on no OP, you’re awesome!” Chris gave your coworkers reasons not to like him, you re giving them reasons too. Deal with your insecurity without engaging your coworkers.

By: Troxwilahar Thu, 25 Nov 2021 04:09:33 +0000 In reply to Anonym.

This is an easy “problem” for OP to solve. Chris’ desire to return is not your circus and not your monkeys. Do not go to bat for him. Do not tell him what people are saying — that will do nothing to benefit you, and indeed is likely to hurt your reputation.

By: Patrick Thu, 25 Nov 2021 04:00:30 +0000 In reply to The Smiling Pug.

It’s pretty safe to assume if you interact with people ARE whispering about you. It’s human nature.

By: Anon For This, You’ll See Why Thu, 25 Nov 2021 01:59:04 +0000 In reply to Green Beans.


By: Jennifer Juniper Thu, 25 Nov 2021 01:02:19 +0000 Gah! I already dislike Chris just from reading this letter! I wouldn’t want him back either.

By: StacyPC Thu, 25 Nov 2021 00:28:56 +0000 In reply to HasslebackPotato.

A general comment inspired by yours: Beware those who get by on charm, and especially those who rely on flattery and/or try to garner the pity of others. It’s a thing, or so I’ve heard. Your guy sounds like my guy with the same outcome, except my guy is now at his last company in the area before he’ll need to find a new career or move to his third region of the state. When I saw him for who he had always been, it was like getting hit by a semi. Anyway, it also crossed my mind how Chris was toward the OP compared to other coworkers, given that OP was so blindsided by the dislike and, even in the letter, a little hand-wavy of the qualities that make Chris a poor coworker. Whether Chris is bad news or Bad News, I’m hoping OP grey-rocks and focuses on their career and less on his, and also tries to avoid seeing their coworkers as possible enemies. OP also sounds fairly isolated aside from Chris, which…yeah. Red flags all around.

By: HasslebackPotato Wed, 24 Nov 2021 23:25:02 +0000 My brother had a former coworker who was affable and charming, but as a worker he was just plain lazy, incompetent, would arrive to work late, take long smoke breaks, disappear for hours, and then leave work early. New employees adored his friendly and generous nature, but people who worked with him long enough dreaded his presence.

In a somewhat conservative corporate environment he was behaved unprofessionally, frequently shouting and bouncing around acting like he was at a rock concert mosh pit. He’d also been known to erupt at Team Leaders and have verbal spats when things did not go his way.
Its a mystery how he managed to land a position at the organisation in the first place. But my brother suspected that his then-Team leader had a soft spot for this disruptive coworker and she may have had a crush on him as well, given how good looking he was.
In the end it came to a point where he’d verbally threatened and intimidated his peers and team leaders, and knowing he was on his last legs, he decided to quit before he got fired.

My brother recently updated me that this former coworker was now trying to look for similar jobs in the industry, but no one was willing to become his referee or help him out due to all the bridges he burnt.

By: Elspeth McGillicuddy Wed, 24 Nov 2021 23:10:09 +0000 In reply to I Wrote This in the Bathroom.

That horse thing sounds like a dare.

By: Observer Wed, 24 Nov 2021 23:04:53 +0000 In reply to Retired (but not really).

Well, the commentary on why Chris might be doing this is inappropriate.

And the rest of it was basically addressed to management and that’s also entirely off base. But even if you were completely correct, it’s waaay off base. It would be a major overstep for the OP to ask Chris anything the sort.

By: I wish I wasn't posting this anonymously Wed, 24 Nov 2021 22:27:49 +0000 In reply to Ask a Manager.

The problem with this sort of “armchair diagnosing with politically correct caveats” is that it’s always applied to people with negative characteristics. If I write in and mention my boss has lots of great ideas, boundless energy and enthusiasm, high standards, and a very well structured organisational system I won’t get several comment threads speculating that she has ADHD. It is extremely rare to find anyone speculating in the comments that Jane’s hardest worker might have ADHD, and their good work ethic could be due to hyperfocus. Alison I know you and Celestine mean well; but you’re perpetuating the negative stereotypes that result in me having to hide my diagnosis at work, and people passing laws saying I can’t pick up my medication one day early if the pharmacy is shutting for a public holiday. Only 5% of adult men have ADHD. Chris is far more likely to be just a jerk. Please stop.

By: Retired (but not really) Wed, 24 Nov 2021 22:11:30 +0000 In reply to Littorally.

I took the comment from Celestine as a general comment on possible reasons for Chris’s behavior and thought she might possibly also be wondering if OP might consider asking Chris in a friendly way if this might be what’s going on as a way to be helpful to him.
I could also be processing the intent of the comment all wrong.

By: RagingADHD Wed, 24 Nov 2021 22:09:01 +0000 In reply to animaniactoo.

Yeah, I’m not sure why it was a surprise that nobody else wants Chris back. Or why LW thought he was a good colleague in the first place.

It does make me wonder if LW is getting away with stuff too, and thinks it’s all fine because Chris got away with stuff. That’s one of the problens with lax management — you can’t rely on feedback because the standards are so low or nonexistent.

By: StudentA Wed, 24 Nov 2021 21:29:44 +0000 In reply to JSPA.

I love how you worded this. That said, I’d only ask if I have a very healthy relationship with my manager and there’s little to no toxicity in the office. I’ve only ever had a couple of managers I could trust to ask this question and from whom I’d expect a caring, genuine answer.

By: Meep Wed, 24 Nov 2021 21:26:55 +0000 In reply to StacyPC.

No. I totally get it. My Chris is a lot like that. I let her get away with saying the most vulgar things because I wanted her to like me and therefore, not try to actively get me fired.

That is why I don’t want OP being a doormat. But if say, OP is always running late to meetings, it might be worth reevaluating. I am not talking about changing who you are as a person. Just making sure you aren’t inconveniencing your coworkers and impeding them from doing their job. Hence “conscientious coworker”.

By: Former Young Lady Wed, 24 Nov 2021 21:14:27 +0000 In reply to Jacey.

As another person who has ADHD, I second this, heartily. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

By: Cassie Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:54:05 +0000 In reply to anonymous73.

I don’t think it’s necessarily about being “liked” or not, but whether people will act like everything is *super fine!* when they’re griping about you in the next breath. Most of us are not that perceptive about our own flaws and if his manager seemed perfectly fine with his work in the past, how would he know that he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing?

That’s the part that would worry me. Tell me what your complaints are so I can work on fixing them. (Or if they are a bunch of hooey, I can at least be aware of it).

By: JSPA Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:50:11 +0000 In reply to LouLou.

“am I disliked” is awkward.

“I notice that people are retroactively cheesed off with Chris. We worked closely together, and it might be natural for people to see my work through that lens. May I ask you, do people associate me with Chris? And if so, are there concrete things I can do, to distinguish my work and my attitude from his?” is much more specific and goal-focused, and not as hard an ask.

By: JSPA Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:42:49 +0000 In reply to Ask a Manager.

Exactly. Celestine explicitly does not diagnose. Nor does anything that Celestine says, imply the outcomes others are suggesting must thereby follow.

Perhaps there should also be a ban on ham-handed Reductio ad absurdum on this site?

There are an increasing number of posts where someone says,

“situation A can exist and can look like this. So–even though it does not change the functional outcome here–it’s worth allowing for the possibility, insofar as we’re passing hard judgements on the people involved. It’s also useful for others who may be reading this post while dealing with other situations that have some material overlap.”

Then people pile on to say some combination

“you’re claiming this is situation A / You’re clearly biased against people in situation A / You are clearly expecting infinite, unreasonable accommodations for people in Situation A / You are an absolutist apologist for horrible people who get away with being horrible because people presume situation A / I’m glad you’re not my coworker / people like you are the problem / You probably hate puppies.” It gets old.

We absolutely CAN separate “you are not doing the job in the way that it needs to be done, and if the problem can’t be fixed, you need to leave” from, “you’re clearly a bad human being.”

We can allow for the possibility–both the same time, Schrödinger’s cat-wise–that Chris could be an opportunistic jagoff, AND that Chris could be doing their level best, and failing to meet the bar, due to any of many circumstances we’re not privy to.

It’s only fair to allow for both of these similarly non-rare situations, if we feel a need to assign moral blame (as opposed to assigning causality).

Reminding people to be charitable to this extent–because we don’t all operate from identical hardware, and we don’t all have equal transparency and support in noticing our own quirks–that frankly shouldn’t even be necessary…because it should be the DEFAULT.

By: Littorally Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:39:11 +0000 In reply to Lady Meyneth.


It’s similar with our department Chris. If their stuff doesn’t get done, then someone else has to do it, because this specific item needs to be completed one way or another. Our manager has done his best to apologize and contextualize and he’s actively handling our Chris, but when I see their name on a piece of work that’s been reassigned to me, I look forward to the day they’re finally let go.

By: Littorally Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:37:21 +0000 In reply to Observer.

Plus all the ones.

By: Green Beans Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:29:42 +0000 In reply to Hats Are Great.

I’ve definitely had my opinion of people drop if they’re defending or oblivious to someone who is not at all good at their job. (That they have interacted with professionally.)
I don’t think of them as easy-going or nice at that point, I think of them as someone so invested in keeping the peace/afraid of conflict that they’re actively working against our standards.
Not that I want people to rally a crusade, but I do want people to be open and honest, especially with leadership, when someone is not doing their job and it’s impacting others.

By: Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:28:29 +0000 In reply to Observer.

“I hope you’re not saying things about me!” sounds like a general-use talking-about-other-people deflection tactic that might have been drilled into the LW as a child or teen, for use in less nuanced/justified social situations. Definitely not having the desired effect here.

By: Littorally Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:27:41 +0000 In reply to Jacey.

Someone else with ADHD here, and you’ve articulated it very well.

There’s enough stigma already with ADHD being the “you weren’t disciplined enough as a child” diagnosis. Jumping up to toss the disorder out there by name any time someone is described as being a lackluster employee just reinforces the stigma. If all you’re saying is that a manager in this situation should consider the possibility of neurodivergence, there’s no reason to bring up a specific, stigmatized diagnosis.

By: StacyPC Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:24:33 +0000 In reply to Meep.

“In this case, I think it is more venting/relief and if OP wants to “fix” themselves because it makes them feel better, they are better off just making sure that they are a conscientious coworker ” – I don’t know if I agree with this or not. When people start changing themselves to impress others or be who they think others want them to be, they end up in trouble. There doesn’t appear to be a job performance issue or a need for OP to be more conscientious at work, at least from what OP has said, right? Chris got managed out (and up), and now OP is spiraling. OP sounds anxious and freaked out, with a perception that they are hated, with a need for reassurance from others, and that’s not the time for a glow-up. That’s the time to be reading some self-help books, seeking other methods of help, and figuring out how and why this whole thing with Chris has managed to completely kick down OP’s doors.

With my Chris, I didn’t realize how much I had changed myself to meet his needs…as a PEER…until I was through an HR nightmare and my boss was curious why my high opinion of the dude changed 180 degrees in the space of two seconds. I wanted his approval, and I torn myself apart to get it. I hope the OP doesn’t do that in their situation here. It sounds like a fairly oddball work environment to start with.

By: JSPA Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:18:46 +0000 people who are really problematic get talked about while they are there. People who are mixed–nice but sloppy, well meaning but leave people hanging / pawn off core duties or for that matter, entirely competent but severe–often escape much complaint while there, but there’s a collective sigh of relief that pours out in an upwelling once they’re gone.

That’s doubly true if turn out to function nearly as well with a person missing, as with that person there. “Wow, I still have too much work, but nobody is schmoozing me and wasting my time, while foisting their work on me, and getting paid for it” is one of those belated recognitions that really registers! So is, “at least now, when I do the work that shouldn’t be mine in the first place, nobody then shelves it until it becomes irrelevant, or adds large titles in Comic Sans.”

That can reach the point of personally disliking someone retroactively, without actually having disliked them that much, while they were there. It’s probably compounded by Chris stopping by to be social (i.e., again being not only unproductive, but reducing the productivity of others, in ways that say, “I care more about my own social experience and professional contacts than I care about your time and your job.”)

If OP is doing their own work and being respectful of the work of others (including credit where credit is due), that’s very unlikely to hold true.

If OP wants to split the difference, OP could probably say something like, “Chris, while I enjoy catching up with you on occasion, the chatter around the office has made it clear that your visits are coming across as an unwelcome time-suck. Even though people are too polite to say it to your face, those visits are not doing you any favors, professionally. If you’d like to grab a coffee every month or so outside the office, I’m happy to do that, instead.” You can follow up with, “I’ll let you know if that changes.”

If Chris doesn’t hear, “your good points are no longer being appreciated here” and “best to look elsewhere,” then someone whose job it is to say that, will need to take the hit.

By: Meep Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:06:09 +0000 In reply to StacyPC.

My Former Toxic Manager/Current Toxic Coworker is a lot like that too. I was never deluded into thinking just because she was talking shit about my coworkers to me, it didn’t mean she wasn’t doing the same about me. It really only helped though, because she doesn’t know her front from her rear and was never actually commenting on people’s performance because she couldn’t. Didn’t make it kinder it was about physical traits half the time, of course. But it made it easier to see this was a deeply miserable person.

In this case, I think it is more venting/relief and if OP wants to “fix” themselves because it makes them feel better, they are better off just making sure that they are a conscientious coworker (so long as they also don’t make themselves a doormat).

By: Tuesday Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:04:20 +0000 In reply to Hiring Mgr.

I think the problem would be stepping in the middle of potential drama when it’s not necessary.

By: Meep Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:01:52 +0000 Honestly, the best thing I did for myself as someone with severe anxiety is realizing that everyone is not going to like everything about me, and that is OK. I don’t like everything about my loved ones. God knows how I hate how my husband runs hot because I run cold. I hate being freezing and if he could stop changing the temperature to 70 that would be divine.

My point is to accept that you are not perfect and that Chris being not perfect does not affect your level of perfectness. I am sure if you looked at your other coworkers you would find some of their habits slightly annoying in a professional or even petty sort of way too. It doesn’t make them bad people either. It makes them people.

By: pancakes Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:58:53 +0000 In reply to Just J..

It really doesn’t matter. Aging doesn’t invariably bring any of us freedom from confusion, and there’s no points for guessing at LWs’ ages.

By: idwtpaun Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:50:42 +0000 OP, I hope I’m saying this sensitively, but the issue seems to be not anything to do with your colleague’s opinions about an ex-colleague but your own anxiety and insecurity. Because your letter went from “my colleagues turned out to be relieved to be rid of an unreliable and burdensome coworker” to “they must hate me” with no connective tissue in-between.

The thing is, some people you know may dislike you. That’s true of every one of us! What matters is whether your colleagues are professionally cordial and appropriate in their behaviour to you, because we all owe each other a baseline standard of civility, particularly when we’re forced to be together like at school or work.

You need to find a way to get past your anxiety about what people may or may not secretly think of you. This is not something you can ever know or control.

By: StacyPC Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:49:49 +0000 I get OP’s concern. My current boss talks badly about others who aren’t doing their jobs well, and my boss complains about others to others’ peers quite a bit. I’ve never heard my boss complain about me or trash me to others, but I’d be a fool to think I was safe from it. It’s one thing when coworkers don’t like a person, but it can be alarming when the manager is vocally “in on it” and part of the fray. You can’t control the behavior of others, so either learn to not care or start to job hunt. With that said, Chris sounds like a nightmare.

Similarly, I worked with a Chris (peer to me) who burned everyone he managed and was a terrible, terrible employee; Chris knew how to manage up, make excuses for all the things he should have been fired for, and stay relatively safe, until he came after me and ended up losing his job. People who didn’t work with him all the time, or who worked with him in a limited capacity, were a little like you, OP. They weren’t affected by his behavior or didn’t see the behavior, so they were baffled and/or very upset by how he was “treated” by HR. Last I heard, he still talks to a few of his allies and tries to stir up sympathy and “get people on his side,” and they play right into it and feed the drama. Don’t be them. Keep your head down and stay out of it, IMO. My other advice is to not make excuses for people; that one line about the problems with Chris is enough to tell you why he was managed out, and everything else is noise.

By: Hats Are Great Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:46:28 +0000 In reply to Ann O’Nemity.

I think it’s also possible that OP is just a nice, easygoing person who gets along with everybody! Or that OP and Chris had compatible personalities/work styles.

More than once I’ve been startled to find out that someone I really liked working with was considered intolerable by my coworkers, and vice versa. So often it’s just about personality fit.

By: Tuesday Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:23:15 +0000 In reply to Imaginary Friend.

Sure, but it doesn’t sound like she even needs to say anything. She’s just wondering if she should seek Chris out to tell him what’s going on. To me, it sounds like her main concern is how other people view her.

By: Coder von Frankenstein Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:22:52 +0000 In reply to Just J..

The condescension is uncalled for. OP is (quite reasonably) concerned, given that the supervisor is *known to tell lies in this exact situation*, that any answer they might get can’t be trusted.

By: KateM Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:15:29 +0000 In reply to Forgot My Name Again.

Yes. OP’s coworkers may also start thinking they are mooching compliments about their work if this happens every. single. time. I’m surprised if coworkers are not tired of it yet.

By: pancakes Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:11:39 +0000 In reply to Jack Straw from Wichita.

Same. I can’t quite imagine finding it interesting enough to gossip about, but I would think less of someone who repeatedly asks a question like that in hopes of being reassured they’re liked. It doesn’t reflect good judgment or a realistic sense of perspective.

By: pancakes Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:03:51 +0000 In reply to Beth.

I agree. It isn’t actionable for him. I suppose the best case scenario would be that he realizes it was a big mistake to be difficult to work with in the particular ways he was difficult and resolves to do better, but even then it wouldn’t make sense to hire him back, instead of a new person without a history of managing their time poorly, etc.

By: Observer Wed, 24 Nov 2021 18:59:38 +0000 In reply to Celestine.

What I’m saying is that these are some traits of people who do and to automatically treat someone who may have some neurological or other disorder that could be helped with diagnosis and treatment like they’re a burden or unwelcomed is unkind and ultimately skirts pretty close to discrimination

This is SO wrong, on so many counts, I don’t even know where to start.

For one thing, dumping your work on others is NOT necessarily typical of people with neurological issues. These folks have enough trouble without being also painted with the brush of being the coworker who gets to slough their work off on other people.

Expecting people to DO THEIR JOB is not “discrimination” in any way, shape or form. Not anywhere CLOSE to it. This is not about managers having nit-picky or unreasonable expectations. This is about BASIC job performance.

Expecting managers to try to “get to the root” of their employee’s performance issues is the thing that REALLY scares me though. Managers have neither the training nor the standing to even TRY to do this. It would be unethical and almost certainly ILLEGAL for managers to even try.

It’s one thing for Chris to come to his manager and ask for accommodations – accommodations that are not “let me not do my job and assign all my work to other people”. In such a case, yes even if it’s not required by law, a manager should try to work with the employee. It’s another, and utterly unacceptable for a manager to respond to an employee’s performance and behavior issues by trying to diagnose them and / or try to manage their medical care.