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How to deal with manipulative coworker

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In the past 1 month at my work I have been subjected to to events turning from good to the worst, all due to a manipulative coworker, who has been at the company for about 10 months. It all started with him talking to management, that we need a structural change. Management came back with the idea, that I would be placed as head of hardware, while he would be responsible for firmware, we should come up with a plan, and discuss in a few weeks. This is when the attacks started.
- First the two of us sit down, and had calm and reasonable conversations for hours about the planning. He was non confrontational, friendly, cooperative.
- Then, they singled out a snarky comment (to management) I made against someone else and turned into a full blown deal, where I have personally attacked them, and created a toxic work environment. I've talked to the guy to whom I made the comment, apologized, and he didn't mind it in the first place.
- He recruited to his cause another firmware engineer who just introduced that he is leaving the company, and apparently named one of the reason for leaving is me.
- He told management that I was disrespecting them behind their backs. No specifics.
- After this I had to sit down with management, they are informed me about this and told me that my behavior is unacceptable, listing what I did. I felt like I was gaslighted.
- Few weeks passed, I did the benefit of the doubt that it was a one time event. Cooperated with him planning the new procedures about the engineering team.
- I had to whistle blow. Found a nonconformity with a production batch, that will cost the company reputation and a lot of money to fix. I escalated the issue internally. Recall, informing a Notified Body, investigation what happened.
- Then yesterday, he singled out a meeting from a few weeks ago. I told to the meeting attendees that some technical aspect for a new product has to be in a certain way, because we certified it that way. Recertification would be to lengthy and expensive, and we wouldn't be able to fulfill the lead time for the customer. You know just stating facts. This was presented that I'm non-cooperating, I raised my voice (I didn't) and acted threatening way (I didn't). He told the event to management right in front of me, deliberately left out that I was stating the issue due to the certification, which was a blatant lie. Management told me that it was the last straw, I cannot do teamwork.
- He told management right in front of me, that the original talks about the promotion of the two of us, I was non cooperative, non-constructive. They withdraw their proposal for promotion, now I'm reporting to my manipulative college, who is now head of engineering, effective immediately.
- I couldn't defend myself on this meeting yesterday, because apparently I'm too daft to even see what's happening. Which was more gaslighting.
- He needs to be on meeting with him and tell me when I'm difficult, because that's the only way.
- Apparently now I cannot even be trusted with phone calls to external parties, where one of my managers needs to sit in.
- And I'm on official notice probation.

I'm not prepared for the type of person, who smiles when having a talk with you, and then turns around and lies to management about the same event. I feel like a fool for not seeing this earlier. Now I have to report to him, so all he needs to do to get rid of me, is lie a few times that I'm difficult and I'm fired. I think that's his next move. I don't know how to trust any conversation with my direct boss now, because he has been using lies, omissions and blowing things out of proportions, against me.
On the other hand, there is no replacement for me at the company, and it would cost them seriously a lot of opportunity cost to let me go. That's probably the only reason I'm still there. And maybe because they know I could sue them for wrongful termination, due to the whistle blowing.

Sounds like a very bad situation with no escape. Don't know what your job skills are and how the current situation in the Netherlands is work wise, but I would start looking for another job.

These kind of backstabbing assholes are very hard to beat, and unless you have strong evidence of what he did or is doing, you won't be able to take him down. It is certainly a shame that these kind of things happen.

Hope you find a way out of it.

I think the only way for you to get ahead is to let it go and find a new place where your skills are appreciated.

Every serious company in Europe is looking for skillful people right now, on all levels. It should be easy for you to find a new job.

I am so sorry to read the OP’s story. The new person appears to be a sociopath and I do not use that term lightly.

I see two options for the OP….

1. Write a formal letter to senior management at the company that details the facts of the situation from your perspective and keep it very neutral to avoid accusations of ‘retaliatory behaviour’. Detail how your job has been changed and it’s effect on production. State clearly that you believe you are being victimised in an effort to either remove you from the company or the other party has a hidden agenda not yet revealed. State clearly that this situation is both unfair to you and will inevitably lead to your departure from the company after X years of trouble free service to your employer. Remember, write such a letter in a cool and concise manner devoid of emotional wording. If that letters contents are not taken seriously, at least it is a formal record that may be presented if you end up at a tribunal. Do NOT be drawn into verbal meetings that are not fully minuted for the official record ! People love to manipulate in a manner where no formal record of events are kept.

2. Leave the company and find a company more deserving of your skills. However this is not an easy option so I would exhaust the available defence avenues within your current company. There is the serious issue of a potential new employer contacting your current employer and hearing an unfair and inaccurate description of your performance and personality.

I think it is time to get the big guns out and request a formal investigation by a member of senior management into what is happening in the company within your area. If the offending party is a Sociopath with an agenda, you will not be able to defend yourself against them and your personal well-being will be harmed.

You may wish to contact an independent employment advisor to gain the exact information needed to progress this matter in a way that cannot be brushed off or that makes matters worse for you. Also, remember, if possible, do not leave one job without actually having another confirmed ! It is a stronger position when looking for a new job.

Take care and get the good advice that you clearly need from a professional as many of us on this forum have our own views and ways of dealing with such a situation, but such advice does not necessarily provide you with the best action plan. Bullying in the workplace is taken very seriously these days, if your Nemisis is a Sociopathic Bully, they will be clever and require careful handling !

All the Best


That's not really a question if you are "on official notice."

1) Be sure the non-compliance is documented and try to keep copies of that at home (if it's not too late).  NDA's can be threatened but cannot be used to cover up serious misdeeds that may present a public danger or are illegal.  More likely, if that non-compliance does cause a problem, you will be blamed for it.  Documents from the company are great, but your own contemporaneous notes can also have weight.

2) Finding another position is probably the only way out.

3) Official notice may mean you are terminated at some future date (e.g., end of current project) or on some sort of probation.  Generally, companies are more concerned about employee sabotage than losing a few weeks salary, so a 2-week notice may mean leave right now and get two weeks of salary.  If it is probation, it may be worthwhile meeting with senior management and negotiating severance.  Companies have a strong interest in avoiding wrongful discharge lawsuits in the US.  Common severance is one month's current salary per year of employment up to some max. 

4) It may be helpful to have an agreed upon recommendation by the company written before you leave.  Every future employer should know that letter doesn't give the whole story, but having it may help prevent later retaliation.

5) When you leave, don't make a mess or a scene.  Just give notice (if required) and leave.  If notice isn't required, resign as soon as practical from your perspective.  Aside from the notes mentioned in #1, do not do anything that smells of undermining the company. 


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