We often praise the importance of collaboration in the workplace because it enhances employee productivity, but not all colleagues can be friends. Inevitably some will hate each other, and some will envy each other. Unfortunately, these situations will result in colleagues accusing one another, and if you are the victim of a false accusation, you might feel like you need to justify the wrong that’s been done to you. But, it’s not as simple as storming into your boss’ office and screaming your head off that your fellow worker is lying. You need to handle false accusations at work in such a way that you come off clean, so that nobody can doubt your honesty.
See Also: How to Develop Conflict-Resolving Skills
1. Understand What You Are Being Accused Of
It can be difficult to not get along with a coworker, we spend so much of our time at work after all, and nobody wants to spend that time fighting, however, these things will happen in places where you force lots of different types of people to coexist. So if you know that a colleague hates your guts, don’t be too surprised when HR or your boss tell you that you’ve been accused of misconduct in the workplace.
I know that when we are being treated unfairly, our instinctive reaction is to start defending ourselves –loudly- but the best thing you can do is to take a deep breath and take in everything you are being told. Make sure you understand what you are being accused of and listen for details. For example, if you are accused of misrepresenting a client make sure you understand which client they are referring to, and when the misrepresentation allegedly happened.
Explain to your boss or HR manager that this is a lie and that you never did anything wrong. Your calm manner and gathered mind will help you so remain calm. Simply, explain to them that you will have to go through your emails to show them that there was no such misconduct on your part and schedule another meeting with them as soon as possible.
2. If You Are Accused Face to Face
Sometimes, colleagues will accuse you face to face. Although this might seem more aggressive, it’s also less tricky to deal with than when they go behind your back to the boss. So if you see a colleague you don’t get along coming towards you upset be sure that they aren’t coming your way to accuse you of something.
It’s important to remain calm throughout the conversation, your colleague will be angry so you have to remain calm for the discussion not to result in a fight and/or violence. Try to ask them why they think you did something wrong but don’t be patronizing. Tell them again and again that you didn’t do what they are accusing you of doing, but don’t tell them that they are lying because this will send things out of control.
3. A Colleague is Spreading Rumours About You
Colleagues might also accuse you behind your back to other colleagues. So, if you hear from a trusted colleague that there’s a rumour going around about you, you need to deal with it head on. Ask who’s been spreading the rumour and you’ll be pointed to the culprit sooner or later, so go to them and ask them why they’ve been spreading rumours about you.
Explain to them that you did not do what they are accusing you of having done and explain to them that you’ll appreciate it if next time they have an issue with you they tell you first rather than spreading rumours about you.
4. Find Evidence of Your Innocence
After being made aware of the false accusation going around the office about you, you need to find evidence that prove your innocence, so go through your emails and anything that is relevant to the accusation and print them out. Go through this proof and highlight anything that demonstrates beyond doubt that you did not do what you are being accused of.
Give a copy to the person who’s accusing you and if they’ve taken the accusation to the boss or the HR give them a copy also. Repeat that you did not do what they are accusing you of doing and that you would never commit any sort of misconduct in the workplace. Explain that you are loyal to the company and dedicated to the clients and that you are happy to work for them.
5. Try to Mend Things With Your Colleague
As hard as it might be, the only way to put the whole story behind you is by mending things with the colleague who accused you. So as much as you might hate their presence at the moment, you have to go above and beyond and try to get on friendly terms with them.
Remember that the more you prolong the beef with them, the more likely it is that they are going to accuse you again, so try to get them on your side.
Being falsely accused at work is hard and awkward. You should defend yourself, however, and do your best to defend yourself. But, remember that the key to solving the problem once and for all is by making peace with your colleague so don’t rest until they are on your side.