I know you mostly help people with dating problems, but I’ve seen you talk about people and their co-workers before so I hope you will help me with my problem. I love my job and all the people I work with. I don’t want to say where (it will be obvious who I am if I do!). But my department is very close-knit, we’re really like family, even though I work for a large company. All of us get along great and we actually spend most of our social time together, too. Everything has been wonderful for the last three years until we got a certain new employee. She’s horrible, and basically destroying everything! Ever since she came in, she’s done nothing but create divisions and start conflicts. I wish I could give details but, again, it would be obvious. Basically, she’s turned people against each other with her lies and gossip, and office politics have never been a problem where I work before but they are now! I fantasize about all of us getting together and getting her fired, but I know that’s childish and makes me no better than her, but still! What can we do? I feel like I can’t just stand by and let her completely destroy our office environment. It may seem like not that big a deal, but I know plenty of people who dread going to work every day, and hate the people they work with. I don’t want my job to be like that! I don’t want to create drama either, but is there anything I can do to help this situation?

Thanks,Was Blessed, Now Stressed Dear Was Blessed,

You can take the high road in this situation without standing by and letting one horrible person set the tone for your workplace. Basically, you can take control back by agreeing to not engage her in her manipulations. Start by leading by example. Don’t participate in any conversations with her that do not expressly deal with work issues. I gather that other people have plenty to say about this lovely person as well. Those water cooler vent sessions are perfect opportunities for you to explain how you are refusing to participate in any gossip or negative behavior because you want the atmosphere to get back to its former healthy state. Wait until issues (inevitably) get brought up, don’t run around recruiting everyone to “boycott” this person; but when you get the chance, you can try and get people on board with the plan. Encourage those in conflict to talk it out and work toward solutions. Now, realize this means no gossipy talk about the bitchy culprit either, so you need to be up for that challenge. If she loses her audience, and no one will play along with her machinations, she’ll be rendered impotent and hopefully the rifts she’s already caused will mend. If her actions affect employee retention or productivity, or if she violates company policy, it would be perfectly appropriate to bring this problem to the attention of a manager. But if it’s strictly personal, I’d definitely try to resolve this without going all HR on anyone’s ass.

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