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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Lies and Rumors

Dear Sue: An employee I work with went to my director and told her I that I said terrible things about her and was looking for a way to get her fired. Shortly after this happened I was demoted. When I learned what had happened, I had a conversation with the director about this alleged statement. I assured her that it was a lie and that I had not said such a thing. I also asked why she was so quick to believe the employee, but she didn’t answer me. I told her there was a witness to what happened, but she never made any effort to talk with that person. I am a good worker and loyal employee, but things have gone from bad to worse at work.

I sense that my director is trying to make things bad for me in the hopes that I will quit. I am not a quitter, and really need the income, but can’t stand the stress of working under these circumstances. What can I do?

– Victim of rumors

Sue Says: I commend you for approaching your director about what happened, however, since talking with her didn’t accomplish much, you may need to try talking with her again.

I am sure your director is hurt by what she heard, and perhaps confused herself about who to believe. I am not sure if you have talked with the employee who instigated the problem, but it may be time for you to do so.

Try to determine what was said and why. Without blaming or scolding, acknowledge that there has been a big misunderstanding and that you would like to get to the bottom of it. Perhaps you can request and set up a meeting with the director and the other employee. Let it be known that you have no intention of quitting and that you would like to resolve the issue. When you feel you have done all you can, let it go.

Time has a way of healing, and cordially to everyone, chances are that your director will see your true character.

Don‘t allow yourself to be forced out of a job you want to keep for something you didn’t do. Someone spread a rumor about you that wasn’t true, which is bad enough – but even worse if you give in and quit. Get what you want by taking control of your career and reputation.

Dear Sue: I am part of a family owned business and I am absolutely miserable. My husband and I run this business together. Although I would rather do something else such as go to school, I am needed here. I am unhappy because I have no idea how to handle some of the details of the business. I am young, and sometimes feel all alone in trying to be responsible for so much because it is a small business. What can we do? – Married to the business

Sue Says: First, you need to talk with your husband and tell him how overwhelmed you are. Don’t do it in the middle of a busy day, but at a time when you are away from the office.

Second, you need to determine if you have an interest in the business or not. Are you working there out of obligation? If you could go to school and learn the skills you feel you are lacking, would you be happier working there? If so, there may be a way for you to go to school and continue to work in the business.

It is important to realize that you do not have to be stuck in this business forever. Although it may be difficult to think of leaving since it is your business, people make changes all the time. You need to look at your options and your vision for your future. You are too young to feel that you have no dreams to pursue and stay in a job you loathe.

Consider hiring help – too often in a small business, the owners feel the need to do everything. Delegating some of the work load and getting help is essential. You have many options available to you. You need to explore them and make some decisions about your future before you begin to see even bigger problems in your business – or worse yet, your marriage.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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