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Complaint against me at work

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    This morning at work, I was talking to one of my companies customer representatives from a bigger company than ours, and during general conversation I jokingly said that a certain aspect of my training was 'boring', in particular, the handling of dangerous goods.

    At the time, this representative who is a duty manager for my employers customer company never raised any complaint or grievance against me for saying this, whether in jest or otherwise.

    About an hour or so later, my manager comes over to me and says that this duty manager of one of our customer clients has made a complaint about what I said and that in future I should keep my mouth shut especially around representatives and managers of the companies we serve.

    My issue here is:
    1. That this guy, who is meant to be a manager, cannot raise an issue with someone that he has picked an issue with at the time of the issue occurring.
    Rather than going behind my back and complaining formally to my company manager, would it not be prudent to discuss and raise your concern with the person you have a concern with and then if you want to take it further and tell my superiors then do so.

    2. My comments were said in jest and taken out of all context and perspective to make me sound and look like someone who is incompetent, inefficient and basically does not know what he is talking about. This was unfair and deliberate misinterpretation of the situation

    I am tempted to make a complaint against this guy who complained against me, but I don't want to cause any more tension.

    However, does anyone agree with me here, especially on the first point that if this guy has an issue or complaint then at least do me the courtesy of telling me there and then and to my face rather than go behind my back and get my manager to tell me what he said on his behalf.

    Rant over!
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    Nothing will come of it so just keep your head down and stay out of trouble. Don't turn something small into something big unnecessarily.
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    I agree, that's a terrible attitude and an awful way to approach a situation like this. I would actually be tempted to ask him personally what problem he had with that sort of joke, and also why he felt the need to go to the manager. Be courteous and polite, but definitely stand your ground on your ideals here.

    Unless it's such a small thing that's it's not worth it, depends what impression you want to give and to who.
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    I feel for you, and that guy obviously doesn't know how to handle a situation. It is truly a shame that your manager decided to pull you up on what this idiot said. Any decent manager should think more negatively on an interfering dogooder like him, than you. Sadly this kind of disgusting behavior seems to get rewarded in the workplace these days, as in the past he would have been laughed out of the park.
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    The majority of jobs of a certain size are like this, unless you are around management personnel day in and day out who know you quite well it is best to act to the highest standard of professionalism at all times. I know you only said it in jest, personally if i had been that manager i would have seen that and laughed but some people are utter jobsworths and unfortunately they have the power, its all about playing the game.


    I recall someone once telling a 'management' type person that they where bored in a previous job, 10 minutes later nobody was bored anymore, but we where all thoroughly pished off as we visited the top of every hill within view...

    When I'm around that sort i just go into 'yes/no' mode, sure I'm not going to wow anyone like that, but if I'm going to be judged on my conversation skills rather than my work perhaps i shouldn't be in their employment.
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    (Original post by cid)
    The majority of jobs of a certain size are like this, unless you are around management personnel day in and day out who know you quite well it is best to act to the highest standard of professionalism at all times.
    Agree with this- the degree of, if not professionalism, but how relaxed you can/should be around management is proportional to both the length of time you've spent in the company, their seniority and how much time you spend in their company. I work closely with someone several rungs up the management ladder from me and we have a very relaxed work relationship which blurs into friendship- but this is because we work together day in, day out, and have done for 3 years. Proximity breeds familiarity (or, if unlucky, contempt). This is how it is in the civilian world anyway (I'm guessing from the anecdote that the poster above me was in the military?)

    What makes this situation bad (and I'm not saying I disagree with your point that the guy should have raised his objection with you directly) is that you were perceived to behave unprofessionally around a senior figure from a customer....quite a different situation from behaving in that way around management from your own company.

    I have customers I've worked with for 2-3 years, on first name terms, share jokes and know about each others holidays, getting the odd Xmas card etc...but with customers you still have to be 100% professional at all times and I would never say anything negative about my company (training, service, products etc.) to any of them.

    Raising this as a grievance with the customer's company will only result in grief for you.
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    Thank you for all your responses everyone.

    I'm not going to take this any further officially with either my employer's management or with the employer of this duty manager, simply because that'll really blow it out of proportion.

    The nature of my job means I am quite likely to bump into this individual again and when/if that happens I will challenge him and have a word about it, obviously in a polite, professional but firm way - especially regarding why he felt the need to complain indirectly to my managers rather than deal with petty issues like this face to face.

    But as some of you have said, I will from now on (at work at least) just turn into a standard "yes-man" to these frankly pathetic and petty managers, for fear of being perceived as having stepped out of line over something incredibly trivial! :rolleyes:
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    The point is that the person who complained was a manager but he wasn't your manager and he had no authority to suggest directly to you that your behaviour was inappropriate. It was entirely appropriate that hearing something from you that he was surprised/shocked/offended or whatever that he didn't raise the issue with you directly, but took it up with a manager in your company. He would potentially have made the situation much worse if you had say gone ballistic and stormed out or sworn at him, or if he got into an argument with you, and not knowing the office politics, your background etc etc.

    Think about it from your point of view, if you go into a shop and a shop assistant says something inappropriate to you, can you not see that not knowing why they have said it or anything about them, speaking to their manager is likely to be the most appropriate course of action. You can tell the member of staff you think what they said was inappropriate but you can't do anything remedial, or take into account any additional circumstances etc because only the manager can do all that.


    This was posted from The Student Room's iPhone/iPad App
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    Based on the original post (haven't read the whole thread), I would suggest that only you can answer this question really as you are the one who knows exactly what happened. Try to look at it calmly, objectively and from an outside prospective. If you genuinely think you are in the right and are being mistreated, then stand up for yourself (providing you can back it up). Of course you don't want to cause tension, but you don't want to be walked all over either. Just think it through calmly and decide if it's worth making a fuss. Put yourself in the shoes of the guy who complained, did he have cause to think what you said was inappropriate? If so, then while you may have known it was a joke, he may not have, so bite the bullet and be more professional next time. Either way, take a day to think it over if you're not sure.

    I had a similar situation once and this thread has made me relive it, I'm mad again over the whole thing! On my placement year I use to pull together a monthly report for a team of consultants, one month I get a voicemail (wasn't at my desk) from the meeting room where the lead consultant accused me (bear in mind this is in a room full of the others consultants) of messing the report up and claimed we had to "get the quality under control from now on". Full 2 minute rant on my answer phone in front of the whole team. Thankfully I was entirely in the right (he'd sent the wrong figures in the email, black and white concrete evidence), but that wasn't going to change the fact that I looked like a right idiot in front of that room full of people (especially mad given there had never once been a "quality" issue). My reaction was simple. When I got the message I checked the email to ensure I was correct and hadn't screwed up, then marched straight into the meeting room, explained his mistake to him and politely enquired if he'd like me to go and research the figures for him. Never seen a man go so red or apologise so profusely, incredibly satisfying and the smarmy git didn't talk down to me again for the remaining 10 months or so I was there. Very satisfying!

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Updated: June 27, 2012
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