I have a problem which has vexed me for a long time. I have a best friend, Devi and she and I have been best friends since college. We have lost touch with each other ever since we entered the workforce. Just end of last year, she joined my company and was placed under my care.
I am in the Human Resources department and in charge of recruiting and she is reporting under one of my manager as a recruiter. At first, I was delighted that she and I could carry on our friendship from where we left off but as times goes by, she became a nuisance instead of a help. She’ll overrides her manager and approach me when she has a problem regarding her work. If I turned her away and refer her back to her own superior, she’ll be angry and refused to speak to me for days. I tried many times to talk to her about this, trying to draw a clear line between our friendship and work but she will refuse to listen and instead always change the subject.
It got worse this year when she’ll use our friendship to gain popularity among her peers. Last week, her manager gave her a poor appraisal listing out her many mistakes including her carelessness and her bad quality of work. The manager suggested to me that Devi should be let go in order not to pull the department’s performance down.
Yesterday, Devi stormed into my office and demanded that I do something about her poor appraisal and tried to dangle our friendship, implying that I care more about making money than our many years of friendship. I had enough and shouted at her, a stormy screaming match ensued. Now she is threatening to go to my boss to complain about me and how I lost my temper. I did apologized but she wants me to change the appraisal so she can get a pay raise next year.
What do I do? I don’t want to lose my job because of her.
Oh dear, your so-called friend is using emotional blackmail against you and bullying you to submit to her request. You should have nipped the problem in the bud when she showed her temper whenever you tried to discuss about drawing boundaries with regards to work.
I don’t think your job is on the line here since you have been in the company for years and your good performance and results speaks for itself but you do need to sit down with your boss and let him or her know what is happening. As this is pretty sensitive, I suggest letting your boss step in and have a serious talk with her, with you in the same room. If need be, have her transfer out of your team or your department. It wouldn’t be fair to override your manager’s decision to let her go especially if there are enough evidence that Devi is not performing. If the final decision is to let her stay on, she needs a warning letter at the very least.
Meanwhile, you need to think hard and long whether to keep up this manipulating friendship. People do change with time and the Devi you used to know and love, might not be the same person anymore. Please don’t let her bully you anymore. It is not fair to you and not fair to the rest of your team.
Last but not least, you need to learn to control your temper and I hoped this is just a one off incident because she misuse her friendship and pressed your buttons. Shouting matches in a workplace, no matter under what circumstances should never happen and never tolerate. If things got too much for you, walk away and come back to her when you feel better and ready to talk.
I hope the above advises helped. Best of luck!