How To Stop Evil Co-Worker

My co-worker is evil, and I don’t know how to stop it. It has taken me awhile to figure out her game but now I think I know what she is doing:

She is an alpha female and has a rather large fan base of people who come by for the latest gossip. She loves to chat in a low whisper to get them to hover closer, and she can turn anything into high drama. However, she tends to fabricate information if there is nothing juicy to report.

For instance, she came into the office yesterday and said to me, “Oh my, you are in a bad mood today - take a breath, don’t let this work situation get to you.”
The thing is, I was not in a bad mood (well, at least I wasn’t until she decided to make that the story of the day) and when people came into the office she would say, “Be careful, DMark is in a bad mood today.” Within hours, people were coming up to me saying, “Take it easy - everything will be OK…” and it had become “fact” that DMark was having a bad day.

She also likes to play office physic with everyone - popping up with odd facts, “You like to drink beer.” “You spend a lot of time going to clubs on the weekend.” “You don’t like your brothers and sisters.” “You don’t like Kathy in Accounting.”
None of this is based on an iota of truth, but she will throw things out there to see what sticks, and then proclaim it as fact. Often, people are flabbergasted and say, “That’s not true.” and that will make her smile and say, “OK, I won’t tell anyone.” as if she now shares this little secret…

Now this might all seem rather harmless, but this woman has a direct line to the president of the company who seems to think he is getting the “inside dirt” on his employees. She has single-handedly gotten two people fired that she didn’t like; it took a few months, but she eventually fabricated enough stories to put those people on the defensive. Suddenly those people got unwanted attention focused on them, causing strife with other employees and getting them the reputation as troublemakers, even though they had done nothing to warrant this.

To make this even more sinister, this woman is going through some health issues, so she has the advantage of the sympathy factor; “How could this poor woman tell anything but the truth?” She will use this anytime a story backfires and she simply resorts to “Maybe it is my medication, but that I what I understood to be true.”

It is like sharing an office with a snake, and we are all plump mice waiting to see who’s next for dinner.

Any suggestions on stopping this would be welcome.

I’ve worked with a couple backstabbers before. I let it slide and did my own thing, but in retrospect I shouldn’t have. One liked to take credit for my work, and I’d find out about it later. The other blamed me for things she didn’t get done. Order not received? Oh, it got held up at incoming inspection. Supplier didn’t ship? Oh, there were quality issues that were unresolved. Bitch.

I don’t have any advice apart from stop this in its tracks now, or you’ll be sorry.

ETA: A few years ago I would have said, meh, don’t worry about it. Now I say you need to make this go away.

Could you turn that sympathy factor around on her? Since she’s already fallen back on blaming her meds for “misunderstandings,” run with that. Any time she makes a proclamation and you deny it, jump right in with “sincere” and loudly-voiced concern about whether she’s feeling OK, if she needs to take a break, etc. Express worry to other coworkers and managers that she must be struggling so hard, she’s forgetting things and is “remembering” things that aren’t true at all. Wonder about whether her meds are causing delusions vs. memory problems. Counter her proclamations with those “talking to a senile woman”-sounding statements like “Oh Barbara, wherever did you get an idea like that/you know I’ve never said anything of the sort, right?” If she tries to deny things, bring up the times she’s blamed her meds before and go on about how everyone’s concerned she’s really struggling so hard with her illness, etc. and that obviously it’s taking a big toll on her at work. You want to make her look unreliable socially and professionally, but under the guise of concern for her health.

eh, that kind of sociopath is easily capable of making sure your strategy backfires.

That’s kind of what I was thinking, too - don’t play her game, because she’s obviously a master at it.

DMark, you have my full sympathy - my first response when I read your OP was, “Oh, dear God!” I have NO idea how to counteract someone that dedicatedly evil, who not only has a large fan base, but also has the ear of the president of the company. Stay out of her way, keep your head down, get everything in writing that can possibly affect your future with the company, document everything - that’s about all I’ve got. What a terrible situation!

Some good ideas here but you need to start slow and soft. Sound out potential allies before you take it public. You may find others who see what you’re doing and are prepared to run with it. You may find people who are genuinely puzzled and worried by her behaviour. If it makes you feel bad to think about manipulating the latter, well, from what I’ve read the “meds and illness are behind this behaviour” theory may hold more than a grain of truth.

**Cat Whisperer **and jz78817 are correct that this is a high risk strategy and should only be attempted if you are confident you can carry it off. I am an arch manipulator myself but I only use my powers for good – which means I use them very rarely.

Vaseline, string, empty Coke bottles, plastic coat hangars. With some imagination you can figure out what I’m on about. You know it’s the only solution. Sympathies, Dmark, office snakes are the suxxorz.

You could start a rumor that she blew some guy in the mailroom.

I didn’t say to actually have sex with her.
Really, I think you are giving more power and significance than what is deserved to to what is ultimately just an annoying person.
What sort of company is this anyway?

Stopping it? There is nothing you can do to stop it without incurring a lot of risk on your part. You basically have two choices:

  1. Be careful, stay quiet, and keep your back against the wall.
  2. Find another job.

Do you really want to work in a place where the President gives so much credence to such a person?

I agree. Form a confederation of other people whom she’s targeted, but keep it on the down-low. Document, document, document. That she has a line to the boss is a sticky wicket, but she can’t be the only person who has the boss’s ear. Identify other possible higher-ups who can support the “insurrection.” If your workplace is large enough that it has an HR person, or someone who fulfills that function, he or she will be an important factor — the problem co-worker has caused people to be fired and is disrupting the workplace. I’m guessing that she’s making it miserable for people to work there and is hurting morale.

Also be clear what your goals are: is this the type of person to change their ways if reprimanded; or is she the vindictive sort who will take the opportunity to strike back? Does she need to get fired for this problem to go away? What is the likelihood of that happening?

If she’s likely to strike back and it’s not likely she could get fired, maybe you need to extricate yourself from the situation and find a new and better job. If that is the case, make sure the issue with the co-worker is brought up in the exit interview.

Form alliances, document incidents, cover your ass, be cautious and patient, and strike only once you have the ammunition to win.

I’m so glad I don’t work on the set of Survivor…

Sounds a lot like you’re working with a sociopath who has the support of upper management. The only cure is to either:

  1. Get upper management to realize she’s lying, and fire her.
  2. Make up rumors about her in revenge and circulate them far and fast.
  3. Get the fuck out as fast as you can.

I highly recommend 3.

Yep. Take some work time to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, get a rec from your manager etc NOW. Update your resume. Get your resume checked by a pro. File it on Monster, etc, you’ll start getting headhunted, etc.

I have a similar sociopath working for me. He really knows how to play the system, too. He screwed up an assignment I’d given him and when I called him on it he basically told me to F@#$ myself in front of witnesses and I’M the one who was disciplined. I AM actively looking for another job!

Ju-Jitsu

Every time she says something about you - agree whole heartedly, elaborate and exaggerate, tell her she is sooooo perceptive, tell her thing about yourself (in strictest confidence) that aren’t true - couldn’t possibly be true! She’ll repeat them to people and if anyone asks you, just say in the most sincere puzzled voice, “Why on earth would I say such a thing? Where did you hear that?!” Eventually people will begin to doubt her.

Talk to your boss, let them know you are worried about her health, because you value her so much as an important member of the team. Mention the cognitive lapses she has been having…

Enlist others in the office to keep an eye on her because you are worried about her…

Tire iron.

How do you react when people come up to you and repeat a lie about you that she has spread? Such as “DMark is in a bad mood”? Why can’t you out her as a liar right there? And then get others to follow suit.

Seriously though DMark, why are you in such a bad mood?

Be aware. She may be gleaning these bits of information by following you and your fellow workers on Facebook and other social media.

This next part makes it almost certain that she is doing so, with the support of your boss.

DMark, if you are posting from work they almost certainly know that you are accessing this site and can fugure out who you are, just by spending a little time reading. You, and all of your fellow workers should cease all social media posting through your company servers.