Every organization has its fare share of disputes, which stands to reason. You spend 40 hours a week with your colleagues, so much time that you're bound to rub someone the wrong way. But when conflict leads to accusations of misconduct, you must deal with the situation head on. Otherwise, you risk damaging your reputation and the security of your job.
Assess the situation to best understand the accusation. Although the complaint may be false, the events and interactions leading up to the accusation could hold the key to the misunderstanding. If your accuser misconstrued an incident, you’ll be better equipped to explain or defend yourself when the time comes.
Set up a meeting with your accuser to discuss the accusation. Do not do this alone. Schedule a time when you, the co-worker and a supervisor can all sit down to resolve the problem professionally.
Ask the accuser to provide examples of the offense. Without knowing the exact nature of the circumstances surrounding the accusation, you can’t expect to explain or defend your actions. Be diplomatic and polite with your questions.
Limit further interactions with the colleague in question until the situation is resolved. Doing otherwise just complicates matters.
Offer your employer the names of any other colleagues present at the time of the misunderstanding. This is especially important if this person can corroborate your side of the story.
Seek legal representation if a resolution cannot be found internally. Your reputation is in question, and you must protect it from false or disparaging accusations. Seek advice from an attorney, who can best tell you how to proceed.
- As much as possible, help your employer get to the bottom of the accusation. Take the time to answer questions honestly and openly, with a calm attitude.
- Refrain from getting defensive, which an employer can mistake for antagonism, and even guilt concerning the charge.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.