Interpersonal Edge: Handling false allegations at work
Sunday, April 16, 2017

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
Q. I've been accused by a coworker of something I did not do. My boss has taken the allegations seriously and I am being put through hell over a lie. I am not sleeping or eating because I am so scared and upset. How can I maintain any sanity or effectiveness when I am unfairly being put through hell?
  A. You'll be able to regain your sanity more quickly if you remember that bad things truly do happen unfairly to good people. The difference between good and bad people is that when good people go through bad things, the truth eventually comes out and they are fine. The other reality is that good people learn something from every experience including upsetting circumstances.
  It's much like the biblical psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Terrifying adversities make us feel like we walking through a death process. In truth, an old us is dying and a new, wiser one is going to be born.
  The trouble with most spiritual advice, even for devoutly religious people, is that it's a little short on practical ideas. What does it mean that "thy rod" and "thy staff" comforts us? I'd like to think this refers to being able to hold the idea that we are loved, precious, divine and good even when all around us judge us harshly. 
  At no time is our tendency for self-hatred more evident than when the world turns against us. Especially in the workplace, we get a lot of our validation, self-esteem and identity from being treated like we are competent, good and professional. Most of my clients don't go into their workplaces thinking their basic goodness is going to be deeply questioned by a false accusation.
  Yet if you are in the workplace long enough someone somewhere will accuse you of something you never did. The reasons people do this are varied: vengeance, jealously or entertainment are all motivations for people who falsely point fingers at others. These people are often deeply insecure, profoundly envious and constantly angry, and they believe if they can bring you low, that will elevate their value.
  I know it is not comforting to consider that karma is a reality. What your coworker has put out in accusing you will come back tenfold to bite him in the butt. You may not be around to see it happen, but if you live long enough and observe you'll see karma in action. The universe, believe it or not, is equitable.
  The huge challenge at present is to do whatever helps you be well so you do not let this one unfair and untrue accusation define you to yourself. You have never needed your own affection, support and love more than you do right now. Force yourself to see people who love you, and talk about your situation, get enough sleep, eat even if it is liquid protein. Seek out an empathic, skilled therapist. It takes a village to support us when we have a crisis so find and use your village.
  If you can work to get yourself into a place where you know this will soon be in your rear view mirror, you'll feel calmer. Remember, the more terrified your coworker can make you, the worse you will function - and the more his allegations look like they have merit. Don't help him hurt you!
  The last word(s)
  Q. What is up with people who think yelling is an interpersonal strategy? Is there any best way to respond to an office yeller?
  A. Yes, calm and grounded silence. Remember, it is hard to light dirt on fire!
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
Printed in the April 16 - April 29, 2017 edition.

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