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Dear AC,

I’d been unemployed for over a year when I was offered an opportunity with a company that had a vacancy that’d been open for three months.  I’ve been told that my new position had been a revolving door prior.  I found it was both a hint and a warning.   

My manager is not on site but was there to provide me with an overview of what was expected of me.  I was directed to work toward taking things off the plate of one of the associates possessing historic knowledge of how to get things done.  I made it a point to ingratiate myself. 

She was responsible for getting me set up with computer access, phones, processes, contact lists etc.  She didn’t do that.  I began asking people in other departments for help and they helped me make my way around, but still needed her help. 

I took her out to dinner one evening and we talked for hours about personal issues, work and she confided that she wasn’t happy with my coming on board.  I felt as though we had made a breakthrough.  She is brilliant in her work function and the next day she was more helpful. 

I felt guilty because I learned that her personal life is in crisis, and listening to her over dinner gave me access to her help.  After that night she continued to seek me out for her confessionals.   I learned more and more that she is very troubled with an interesting fantasy life.   

It’s confusing;  on one hand, she confiding secrets, on the other she’s working against me.   One day I came in to find my office had been completely gutted, desks, cabinets, wall mounted tv monitors, visitors table along with personal items left in the office were gone without notice.  In their place were two metal desks that’s it. Even the landline was gone.  She coordinated the move. 

Three months in and she continues to flip flop.  When I confronted her on her lack of support she laughed as though I uncovered a prank, saying, “well you worked your way around it didn’t you!” 

I am still new on the job.  Like I said,  I won’t betray her private life.  I’d like to remain professional.  How do I tell upper management that she’s sabotaging me, or that I think she’s unstable?  A part of me thinks that those around her already know and look over it because she’s good at her job, I don’t know.  She and I are employed by two different companies, working in the same department for a mutual client. 

What can I do?


Dear Sabotage,

Wow!  Well, first congratulations on your new position.  It sounds like you have done one of the first things I normally recommend.  Which is communicate.  Often having a conversation away from the office is a good ice breaker.  Informing a person who is sabotaging your ability to perform your job that you know they are doing it, puts them on notice.  Sometimes it can escalate.  I can’t tell what the timeline is of the incidents, but it does sound like you don’t trust her, all the while feeling guilty for allowing her to confide in you.

If your suspicions are correct, don’t feel guilty!  She knows exactly what she’s doing and she knows exactly what you’re trying to do.  You wanted to make her feel good about you in order to get her to share her knowledge.  She doesn’t want to give it to you.  I can’t say what her motivations are but it seems possible that if she hands over her knowledge, her value will be diminished.  It’s also possible that she doesn’t like you, and doesn’t want to help, whether she’s been asked to or not.

She may be very clever by feeding you information that isn’t true to mess with you.  Or she is, as you suspect, a troubled person who is good at her job, but none-the-less devious in her attempts to undermine any successes in your job. 

If she’s the catalyst for the revolving door you mentioned, consider that she’s been successful in the past and you are a participant in a well-implemented process. 

Here’s something to consider.  What if you’re wrong!  Don’t sabotage the saboteur!  Don’t assume bad intentions!  Talk to her, but be alert, take notes documenting actions of sabotage.  Remain professional and positive. 

Once you have proof that her actions are sabotage provide that information to your manager/management.  (By the way, it’s not necessary to go into the “confessional” conversations or your assumptions about her mental health – that is of course you are a licensed mental health expert.)

Take the high road but keep your resume dusted off.  Remember, you were looking for a job when you found that one… 

Here are a few links on the subject

What to do when a co-worker tries to sabotage your career


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Ask AC

Got a question? AskAC.nohoartsdistrict@gmail.com

AC is an East Coast transplant who became rooted in the SFV.  “Yup”, AC said “I found a place in North Hollywood years ago, and though I’ve traveled the world over this is the place I call home.  Well, also Massachusetts because that’s where I was born.  I think of  Hawaii as my second home, but I don’t own property there so maybe I can’t count that.  I was going to say Paris, at first cause I am very comfortable there, but then, you know I’m American and I don’t want to be too pompous.  So, yeah, I guess the San Fernando Valley is home.”

A street scholar, majoring in hard knocks and common sense, AC, attended night school receiving a high school diploma.  With a thirst for knowledge, AC continued education included many, many on line courses and seminars from selling beets at your local farmers market and how to shuck clams to Introduction to wine.

AC has been offering advice to everyone, whether they ask for it or not.  At times AC’s advice has been met with animosity and physical threats.  None the less AC preservers.   “It’s my calling” says AC, who urges readers to send in their confounding queries; “If you want advice (in the words of the 45th President), ‘what do you have to lose’, Ask AC?”

What makes AC’s columns unique is that it feels like you are getting advice from a friend, a person you can rely on for lively, no-nonsense feedback.  Ask AC is the best advice columnist by a Los Angeles mile."

AC resides in North Hollywood has two children, is an animal lover and has an active social life.  An adventure sport enthusiast, writer, performer, corporate baby, and community volunteer.  AC devotes time to family, community and in the service of others.  

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