Work Relationships

5 glaring signs your coworkers are untrustworthy

Written by Peter Jones

You don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers. We know some of you want to keep the personal and the professional separate, and that’s totally fine. But at the very least, you should be able to trust your coworkers. You certainly wouldn’t want to find out that someone else in the office has been taking credit for your hard work or passing along things you say in confidence to the wrong people. So it is wise to take note of when a colleague may be less than honest.

Here are 5 signs that will help you weed out the untrustworthy.

1. You’re the subject of gossip.

Have you ever suspected that a coworker was whispering behind your back? And do you suspect that the coworker is whispering about you? Are things you said to that coworker in private getting around the office? These are all warning signs that someone is gossiping about you. And you can never trust a gossip.

2. You’ve been robbed.

Did you ever have a great idea that you mentioned to a coworker who then went ahead and passed off that idea as his or her own? That’s not so much a warning sign as a great big flashing red light alerting you that he or she is not honest. It would be ideal to work in an environment in which having your ideas or work stolen is not a concern, but sometimes it’s best to keep your best ideas close to your chest.

If this does happen to you, don’t be shy about having a private meeting with your manager to talk about the issue and how you should handle it in the future.

3. You’re being left out.

Ever find yourself left out of important meetings or email threads? Maybe these are just a harmless oversights, but finding yourself chronically left out might indicate that a coworker is jealous of your abilities and does not want you to shine by participating in crucial office confabs. If you find that it’s always the same coworker who is “accidentally” leaving you out of those meetings of minds, that coworker might have an axe to grind against you. Again, please don’t feel out of line by reporting this type of behavior should be reported to management.

4. You’re the scapegoat.

Do you sometimes get blamed for mistakes you didn’t make? Do you feel fingers pointing at you behind your back? Then someone might be trying to turn you into the office scapegoat. This may be random harassment, or someone might be trying to cover up her or his own blunders by making them yours. If you regularly find yourself taking the heat for someone else’s screw-ups, that someone might be the culprit behind your scapegoat status.

Always stand up for yourself and get everything in writing. Even if you have to shoot off a quick “just confirming what we discussed at my desk this afternoon” email, do it. You can never be too safe.

5. You’re the victim of sabotage.

Did a project you worked hard on end up getting lost or a well-organized presentation end up mysteriously turning into a mess? Then someone might be deliberately sabotaging your work. Yes, it seems juvenile, but these things do happen in the adult work world. Just be sure that there is strong evidence that a particular coworker is sabotaging your work before making any accusations. You don’t want to falsely accuse anyone or mistakenly blame a coworker for your own errors. Then your coworkers might start thinking that you’re the one who isn’t completely trustworthy.

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About the author

Peter Jones

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