Paranoia in the Office


Oh how we complicate our lives! Stephanie is head of Human Resources for a hospitality company and Gina is the Associate Head. Gina is upset that Stephanie doesn’t promptly answer her emails. She sometimes has not gotten information that she needs and feels out of the loop. She doesn’t like not knowing an answer and is afraid people will think she’s incompetent. Gina believes Stephanie is out to sabotage her.

Stephanie claims that Gina is driving her nuts with too many emails. She thinks Gina needs to handle situations on her own as she knows how to do her job. Although Stephanie has told this to her, Gina doesn’t believe her.

Gina also thinks Stephanie likes Juan (new office hire) more than her and is conspiring to make her mess up at work so she has a reason to fire her and then promote Juan!

So what could be some of the reasons why Stephanie doesn’t return emails? Here’s a quick list:

  • She doesn’t like Gina
  • She is incompetent
  • She is too busy chatting with Juan
  • She doesn’t see a need to respond
  • She trusts Gina to do the right thing

While I don’t have security footage that will show me if Stephanie is fawning over Juan, my instinct tells me that Stephanie is not some psychopath plotting Gina’s demise. In fact, she promoted her six months ago!

What do these colleagues need to do? Each needs to do something difficult.

Stephanie admits she’s not good with answering email. She’s not proud of this and recognizes she needs to do a better job. She now needs to move on from recognizing this is an ineffective habit and consciously develop a game plan for being more prompt in her responses. If Gina’s upset, chances are others in the company share Gina’s frustrations.

Gina needs to understand that it is unfair and unrealistic to hold people to her standard of email protocol. She is prompt in responding. Actually, I’ve seldom met anyone who responds as quickly to an email as she does! That’s good, but she needs to probe what appears to be her paranoia regarding Stephanie and Juan’s relationship. Aside from making an accusation, what are the facts to back up the belief that her career is being sabotaged?

Each woman needs to reflect on how her behavior could appear to the other and ask how her behavior is tripping up the other person. The Golden Rule of doing unto others as we’d have them do unto us is not nearly as effective as the “Platinum Rule” of doing unto others as they would have us do unto them!

That’s real strategy – and will lead to real and successful communication!

Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at:

Follow me on Twitter: @jprweddings

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