Dealing With Paranoia in The Workplace!



When it hurts – observe. Life is trying to teach you something.

Anita Krizzan


Oh, how we complicate our lives!


Steve (names changed) is head of Human Resources for a mid-sized company and Gina is the Associate Head.


Gina is upset that Steve doesn’t promptly answer her emails. She sometimes hasn’t gotten information that she needs and feels out of the loop. She doesn’t like not knowing an answer and is afraid people will think she’s incompetent.


Gina believes Steve is out to sabotage her.


Steve claims Gina is driving him nuts with too many emails. He thinks Gina needs to handle situations on her own as she knows how to do her job.


Although Steve has told this to her, Gina doesn’t believe him.


Gina also thinks Steve likes Judy (new office hire) more than he likes her and is conspiring to make her mess up at work so he has a reason to fire her and then promote Judy!


Let’s start with what could be some of the reasons why Steve doesn’t promptly return emails:

  • He doesn’t like Gina
  • He is incompetent
  • He is too busy chatting with Judy
  • He doesn’t see a need to respond
  • He trusts Gina to do the right thing
  • He doesn’t enjoy dealing with email


While I don’t have security footage that will show me if Steve is fawning over Judy, my instinct tells me that Steve is not some psychopath plotting Gina’s demise. In fact, he promoted her six months ago!


What do these colleagues need to do?


Each needs to do something difficult.


Steve admits he’s not good with answering email. He’s not proud of this and recognizes he needs to do a better job.


He now needs to move on from recognizing this is an ineffective habit and consciously develop a game plan for being more prompt in his responses. If Gina’s upset, chances are others in the company share Gina’s frustrations.


Gina needs to probe what appears to be her paranoia regarding Steve and Judy’s relationship.


Aside from making an accusation, what are the facts to back up the belief that her career is being sabotaged? When I asked, she could not provide evidence other than “she knows!”


Steve and Gina need to reflect on how their behavior could appear to the other and ask how their behavior is making life difficult for the other.


The Golden Rule of doing to others as we’d have them do to us is not nearly as effective as the “Platinum Rule” – of doing to others as they would have us do to them!


That’s real strategy –

and will lead to real and successful communication and relationship!


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