Adult Tattling at Work

Updated on June 13, 2013
R.X. asks from Fayetteville, AR
27 answers

Do you tend to solve your own MINOR issues or do you tend to go to authorities (boss) to solve issues?

At my job there has been a rash of 'reporting' to supervisors (via email trails). I get curious as to why some people go to the boss and others go to the source. It is regional or cultural?

Again, Mamas, MINOR issues--not life threatening or illegal.

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So What Happened?

Boss Fan, won't the person be even more intimidated when it gets out that she or he tattled? And it seems to always get out--because the person gets called in to see the boss about it. I am a more of an ignore the misbehavior or a go to the source person. And I do think its more cultural or socio economic because most Lower professional friends talk about how their higher income workers tend to 'report' rather than confront.

1Perfect1 at my agency the email trail is a way of throwing people under the bus or saving own's skin.

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answers from Columbia on

It's not my job to confront anyone. There is a chain of command and that's why bosses get paid the big bucks.

Plus - I have such little faith in humanity. Not all of humanity..... just most of it. But I've lived a life. Sad, yes. but people who break the rules don't care. They don't care what I think, they don't care what you think and they don't care what the rules are. They are selfish and are *here* (or work, or wherever) to futher their own agenda.
So, I take it a level up and let someone else decide if it's worth the time to handle. not me. I have other things to focus my attention and energy on.

Even with minor issues - if there is a rule.... it should be followed. If it doesn't matter if you follow it.... don't have the rule. But if there is rule it should be followed. Part of my job as a safe and caring community member is to alert the authorities if the masses aren't following the rules. There's more of us (the masses) than there are authorities.... so we all have to pitch in and help.

That's how neighborhood watch was started. It's the premise. Watch out and see if people are here that aren't supposed to be..... doing things they aren't supposed to be doing. Because the police can't be everywhere. So- you *tattle* if that's what you want to call it. So that someone CAN come in and handle it.

I don't EVER worry about someone *reporting me*. Here, work, personal life. I'm in the clear. I'm square, as they say. So, I know in an audit or investigation I'll come out clean.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

At my work, people tend to either report or ignore (depending on how important that issue seems to them) because they don't want to be seen as telling their co-workers what to do. They respect the chain of command, and leave it to the supervisor to determine what is important enough to address, and what to let go.

As a supervisor, I'm ok with that. I'd rather they let me handle any confrontations - I've had training on how to do it in a way that is (hopefully) productive, and they haven't.

BTW, this is all on the job. I ignore issues on the MP site. Doesn't seem worth my time to do otherwise since I don't know people's motivation for doing what they do here.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

People are at work to do a job. Lots of times, how one person does their job actually affects other peoples' jobs AND affects the bottom line of the company. In a school environment where you are, if it is a private school, poor performance can cause parents to pull their kids and move them to a different private school and pay the big bucks there to educate their kids. Problem employees can cause a lot of drama and make lots of people in the work place awfully unhappy.

When I was a manager, I welcomed complaints quietly brought to me because if I didn't know about the problem, I couldn't manage it. I had one woman working for me who drove people nuts with her attitude. I would have fired her if my senior partner had not had a special place in his heart for her. The straw that broke the camel's back was when she almost slammed a drawer on the hand of another woman in the office because she was unhappy about something, and after this and knowing the stuff like this she tried to pull on her coworkers, I demoted her. Even after several key performance appraisal reviews that told her she had to improve, being demoted made her see the handwriting on the wall and she went and got another job. Thank goodness. If she hadn't, firing would have been next...

That being said, email trails don't seem to me to very helpful. Talking to one's boss about personnel problems should be done in person.

I don't know what race has to do with this. I DO think that women are worse than men about this kind of thing, and that it happens a lot less with higher level executive jobs.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Whistleblowers are protected, coworkers are not. There are a couple people here that are insane, they do not react to any criticism in a rational or healthy manner. Being yelled at is above most people's pay scale so they generally go to management with problems with those employees.

What I am saying is no one speaks directly to anyone who is not open to discussing the issue. It is pointless and most of the time loud and dramatic.
Oh, after reading your what happened. The response by the person is no different depending on who you report it to. If someone is psycho enough to be unprofessional talking to you they will be equally unprofessional if they find out you blew the whistle. The difference is there is a greater chance the person will be spared the inappropriate response if they go to management. After all, to their face, it is a 100% chance.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I suppose sexual harassment isn't life threatening but reporting it to HR is the preferred method of dealing with it.
Company (and legal dept) want you to go to HR so they have a chance to take action so the company can hope to avoid liability (and getting sued).
If rules/policy are being broken, it needs to be addressed.
Management looks ineffective both in communication and in enforcement of the rules if they are not in the loop.
If bickering is happening but rules are not being broken, the (chronic) complainers start to look bad and lose credibility over time.
At the same time, a department that doesn't play well with the others can make a big difference in the company's bottom line and that can hurt profitability.
Sometimes the only way to raise company morale is to fire all the unhappy people.
"Be fired with enthusiasm else you'll be fired - with enthusiasm!".

As for this site, many don't (or refuse) to understand how reporting works.
If site rules are being broken, reporting it is the way to get it deleted.
How else are you going to stop harassment / cyber bullying?
The site wants to block people who are spamming the site and wasting their disk space - they don't necessarily delete trolls as long as rules are not being broken.
There is no way of dealing with it yourself.
But if people report things and rules are not being broken, monitors will not delete something just because there are complaints.
There is room for interpretation, but the monitors get the last word.
It's all spelled out in the site Terms and Conditions.
Users should read and understand them.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Hey Rhonda, I have been thinking about your question this morning and realized, I learned my work ethic from my mom.

We are a family of women who all had to work. My great grandmothers were seamstresses, my Grandmother was an amazing cook here in town (she was known for her cooking) and my mom and all of her sisters all worked their adult lives.

My mom worked her way up from secretary to Editor. She then started a small business and sold it to a major corporation. (it was early on, so not much money).

She used to talk to us about her work day, during dinner.
She discussed behaviors, work ethic, and women's rights at work.. It was during the 1960's that I saw her stand up for herself at work.. This was a layered thing. Being Hispanic, Being a woman, getting a divorce and raising us alone and no college degree in a Professional setting..

This is where I learned to work hard, work honestly and keep your nose out of everyone elses business.

Stay Professional.

When you have a question go to the person with the answers.

If you cannot figure it out, admit it and find out how to do the job.

Be self motivated and do not depend on others to pat your back and give you compliments.

Be self sufficient when necessary, but learn to be part of a group.

Honesty is the best policy.

Anyway, I admire and respect my mom. She fought hard for her rights and the rights of working women. It was a quiet strength, but she was given a lot of credit and admired for her dedication and professionalism..

I ignore.. That means, if I honestly am not involved to stay out of it completely.

I do not waste my time on that stuff. If I have a concern, a problem,a worry i know who I need to speak with. I am usually too busy working and making sure I am doing a good and thorough job first.

I do not think it is a racial thing. I think this is a personality, maturity and life experience thing. I really try to stop before I react or assume.
I evaluate if I am helping the situation or adding gas to the fire.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Unless you know the entire history of personal and professional interactions between two co-workers, don't assume that someone who reports what appears to be a "minor issue" is merely a tattler.

Those two employees might have a history of issues between them that means that at least one of them is finally done with trying to work things out one to one -- even small things. There could be a long pattern of many "minor issues" that add up to harassment or -- far less serious but still detrimental to work -- plain pig-headedness on one side's part.

Yes, there are people who just don't know how to handle even the smallest problems for themselves, which is pathetic. But there also are situations that appear from outside as if they're just a case of adults being silly -- when the reality is that the adults involved have bigger reasons to avoid interacting than anyone else realizes.

If this doesn't involve you personally I'd just chalk it up to either something going on that you don't know about, or people who aren't very mature or professional. Either way I'd want to steer clear of it all.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

All things being equal, I prefer to solve/resolve my own issues.

I've been on this site for years and have only asked a handful of questions and did so because I needed information that I just didn't have and couldn't find elsewhere.

When I have a question or issue, I usually ask myself how I'd advise a friend or family member in the same situation. Helps me to take a step back, sort things out, and from there, an answer is usually pretty clear.

If I still need something more to solve the issue, I'll talk with my family or close friends. Sometimes, just saying things out loud leads me to some pretty good insights. However, I have to give much credit to the wonderful family and friends I have; their love, kindness, and honesty have never failed to lead me in the right direction when I needed that.

Why do some people seek to insert others in minor issues? Could be lots of things: feelings of fear, insecurity, so they want back-up from their group; wanting to be the first to give their side of the story; some just love drama; others may be incompetent in their jobs, and stirring up drama is a way to deflect that----just to name a few possibilities.

I don't think it's regional or cultural. It's much more a reflection of the person's maturity and confidence level (i.e., the lower the level of maturity and self-confidence, the higher the chances they run to others with minor stuff).

ETA: Love Laurie A's answer! Her mother's lessons are priceless!

Also, as a former director/administrator, I did not appreciate when staff would come to me with minor issues such, "Joe didn't say hi to me when I passed him in the hall this morning." That was a real complaint from an on-going personal feud between two of my employees, who were both in their mid-to-late 40s at the time. I'd usually put it back on them and try to help them find a way to work together despite their personal feelings. Some days they did better than others, but it's situations like this that make you realize how much of that kind of silliness goes on in work settings and how much productivity is lost due to nonsense. I learned that I'd take an average employee any day over a superstar who always creates drama and strife among staff.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here, I only report things that are clearly spamming/solicitation so that the posts can be pulled quickly without a bunch of people getting sucked into giving the violating post attention. Other than that, I'm pretty non-confrontational. If someone were harassing me on here and ignoring the person didn't solve the problem, I'd report the harassing activity.

At work? Luckily I don't work in a business environment where confrontation is common. Most of us manage to politely work together with irritating people and vent to our colleagues who feel the same way about people are stupid, lazy or arrogant. Usually if I have an ongoing issue with someone that's really affecting my work or putting my work at risk, the person is higher up than me and as much as I want to, I can't come right out and say things like "I don't get paid enough to have direct contact with your clients. Do your job, manage your accounts, and do NOT pass my contact info along to your clients because I will not respond, and that will leave us looking unresponsive and unprofessional. You're paid to be client-facing, I am not." However, my boss can say those things, in a friendly way, so I do let him know when I need him to make a quick "expectations reset" call to one of these people, who are his peers.

That said, I never "report" to my boss via e-mail. I'll call him or stop by his office, not whine in writing. Sometimes I have to forward him an e-mail chain so he has an example of a ridiculous request but really, I don't want my complaints to be in writing.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When I was working outside the home, yes, I preferred to speak directly to the person I was having the issue with. Usually (not always) I could find out more information about why they were doing something with an open-ended question than a bald confrontation. I have found that sometimes our anger is stoked because of our assumptions and that if we take the time to figure out what exactly someone is doing, at least half the time the insight is gained and a more constructive conversation can be had going forward.

The times I've gone directly to a supervisor were either because I'd addressed the issue repeatedly and we hadn't made progress, or because it was a "big deal" issue which needed immediate attention. Lastly, anything I thought might come back to a supervisor (in my case, child care directors) was information they needed so that they wouldn't be blindsided by a confrontation with an angry parent, so that they would have some understanding of the situation and have a chance to plan how they might want to respond... but not before I made every effort to resolve the situation on my own first.

And I liked what Flaming Turnip had to say. I've been in that position before too: how do you confront someone who is displaying scary,sociopathic tendencies or has profound mental health issues? I've dealt with both in my work and those were the conversations which went straight to the director. Hard to start a conversation with "your lack of empathy is frightening..."

And on Mamapedia: frankly, if I feel a need to report someone who's being rude or mean, I may or may not address that person/call them out. I think, at work, that I am obligated to try to deal with a person directly because I am going to possibly have a long-term professional relationship with them. On this site, if someone is talking crazy already, chances are they are going to freak out on me for speaking up. It happened recently that someone who I stood up to sent a threateningly-titled PM.. I didn't open it, I don't feel that it's worth it to expend energy to problem-solve on a forum with someone who is swearing everyone out. It's a forum-- and life's too short.

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answers from Dallas on

To me it is common courtesy to try and work it out at the source first and only go the next step when important and other option has been exhausted. If it's minor..... i mean really...... just let it go.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I think what's happening is that email is becoming the NEW voice for many.. It's how they communicate these days. I know in some cases, you can have two people standing next to one another and rather than spark up a conversation, they begin texting each other... It's crazy.. Therefore, to email a supervisor with regard to another co-worker seems very plausible and I think it will happen more and more, regardless of race..

Also, like this site, something about being on email probably seems less intimidating to some who might find face to face confrontation uncomfortable... I would say rather than race coming into play, it's more of a new societal norm.. even if it doesn't seem normal at all..

Sadly, as we get deeper into our electronic use and self-absorption as can be seen with those who walk down the street, head down, texting and they almost run into a person.. we aren't really communicating, we are zoning out... Hey people , let's put down our cellphones and computers and talk to each other face to face.. just like G. used to do.. :):)

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answers from Hartford on

I'm fairly direct. As if my posting history didn't offer that up as a first clue. My writing style is pretty much like my speaking style although it offers me a chance to be a little more detailed here.

In all situations I do a lot more listening and reading and research than I ever let on to anyone else. I like to arm myself with knowledge before I confront anyone.... ever. I like to feel confident in my position before I present it to anyone. I intensely dislike feeling off balance or uneducated about something. I also dislike feeling sucker punched or taken advantage of or abused.

That said, I tolerate a lot at work. I go in with as much positive attitude as possible and present as much positive language as I can. It works wonders in how people treat me. My coworkers are quirky but I get along with all of them. I get along with all of my consumers that I meet with on a daily basis, and the one that was abusive on a regular basis was recently released from services. I refused to tolerate the behaviors any longer. I documented everything and each time he escalated I did bring it to my boss after talking it out with my office mate and immediate supervisor. He finally reached a point where the only solution was to release him from services, and my boss supported me 100%.

When I've had issues with coworkers, I speak with them first. We're friendly with each other and resolutions are pretty easy. There have only been two instances with the same person where I had no choice but to go to my boss directly, and I felt terrible about it both times. Luckily there have been no hard feelings... it was partially a matter of setting boundaries that he would only adhere to if they were set by the boss. No harm, no foul.

But yes, I do tend to handle most things myself since I've been a supervisor and know how to handle these things. Not everyone does know how to handle situations where they won't be escalated if they're the ones to handle it. Many times, someone SHOULD "tattle" to the boss or supervisor because if they handle it themselves the situation will worsen instead of improve. And of course, some supervisors/bosses are micromanagers and want to know of every situation that can affect office relationships.

I don't think it has anything to do with race or region. I think it has everything to do with individual personalities and individual offices and the company politics and policies.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have always been a direct to the source kinda gal. I like honesty and appreciate it from others as well. .If I have a problem with someone, I go directly to them. Unless it is dangerous for me to do so-- :)

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answers from Dallas on

What Boss Fan said. Is a symptom of some kind of problem but this is too vague to judge from the outside. Intimadation has to be a factor.

If all are acting mature then none of this happens. If someone is being annoying and a simple request is met with animosity then eventually they will go over that person's head. If someone is touchy then they could wrongly think that going to the Boss over every little thing will make the boss think they are helping.

I am for whatever is effective. I roll my eyes at most drama but I will not be intimidated. When you bring up race in your SWH, I understand you mean culture, but what you are saying is divisive and would be judged a bit racist if the races were turned around. Maybe it is a difference in cultures or maybe it's a climate that turns on "others".

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answers from New York on

I think it depends on who the boss is... I know my boss of 16 years wants to know everything and is a micromanager. I don't think he'd like coworker confrontations. Another boss may not want to be bothered. So different bosses may impact how people handle things. I would also think it might be a gender thing versus regional or race or cultural... Men, aside from my boss, I think are very big picture oriented, nondrama and might not want to get involved in petty disputes. Women bosses may want to be more involved? not sure of course.

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answers from San Francisco on

I like to go to the source, and converse, rather than confront. Most things end up being a misunderstanding or a sensitivity. Most people are nice and want to get along. No need to go immediately over people's heads, reporting them.

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answers from Cincinnati on

If I have a question I go to the person who might have the answer. If its something I need to do I try to figure it out for about 1/2 hour and if I still can't get it I use a user forum to see if anyone has any great ideas. If I seriously know I can't do something, I will let my boss know that because its better that someone else do it who knows how.

I don't tell on people who made me mad. i just sit there and do my work. I don't like adding to the pot of work place politics.

Yes, I like to solve my own minor issues.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Depends. On here, if it's a dispute with a rational person I'll address it with them. If it's just straight-up crazy I'll report. I've been on this site many years and have only reported two things. I can handle lively debates and have had a few, but one new member-who I never saw on here again after that- sent an extremely abusive and profane response to my diplomatic private message, and one in which a poster attacked a post in a horrible way which is against guidelines and was obviously not someone who would discuss it rationally. It was the type of post everyone should report and not invest any time discussing.

In work scenarios I've never gone to a boss about someone....wait I did once, and it was after many attempts to deal with the person directly. Some things are not resolvable and need to be reported.

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with ChristyLee, it's personal not cultural or regional.

As far as work goes, I tend to just mind my own business so I don't know anything to tattle about nor is there anything for anyone to tattle on me about. I get paid to work and stay out of office politics. I don't socialize with co-workers outside the office. Makes staying out of the politics so much easier!

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answers from Cleveland on

I have never seen the point in talking to people because my goal in getting x behavior to stop ( say pushing off their reports on me) would always some how in y being affected. they may stop pushing off reports but instead would forget to give me memo's or something like that. of even if they were sorry they would act differently like making a big deal every time they turn in the reports.

Going to the boss generally wouldn't help either because if they know about it they would have fixed it, and if they don't know about it they generally don't care and woud expect you to myob.

I prefer to do my work to my best ability and let the other person stand or fall on their own.

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answers from Chicago on

Looks like you have plenty of answers, so I am adding just a little bit more and what I find despicable are the people who try to dig things out of you and THEN go report. Which doesn't help. And white or black, or pink or yellow tattling often doesn't help much. I have sat in meetings and the tattler and the tattlee and the receiver of the tattles all get off topic, don't do much and unless it is harmful it fades in time. Often a lot of political brown nosing going on in those situations. I guess we have to ask our own selves: if I tell on this how is it helping me, or my company? or is it really helpful or just a 'nah, nah doo, doo' adult version of being a mean girl (or boy). Just sayin..

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answers from Seattle on

I tend to solve my own issues. I will go right on up to the person that I am having an issue with and try to talk it out.
I can't stand the whole "reporting" thing. We are all adults, lets act like it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I think confronting someone takes a lot of maturity and self-confidence, and prior success that this approach works.

So, I'm not of the camp that this is cultural, but rather self-esteem driven. I'd like to think that an education or position makes the difference, but not necessarily so, if one has come from an abusive family with a lot of manipulation.

When I worked full time, I had many personal talks go well, and a few go terrible. One gal even sabotaged my work for confronting her about her work ethic. She came into my office when I was not there, and hid important documents under stray piles. She was constantly on smoke breaks, spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone, etc. Her work ethic improved, but only with passive-aggressive consequences. Oh, and we're both white.

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answers from Columbia on

It's not regional or cultural, it's personal.

Some prefer to approach the person they have an issue with, and some people don't like confrontation, so they let the boss deal with it.

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answers from Washington DC on


What does race have to do with this?

This is not regional or cultural or's the human race....that is a "personal" way of dealing with things and people. There are people who cannot handle confrontation or much of anything - so they "run" to others to help them or deal with it for them.

I'm not sure what you want out of this. Do you want people to tell you that they don't go to the boss and complain about the behavior of another? Sorry. No can do.

Do you want people to say they don't report on here? Sorry. No can do.

In a work environment - if it's the way to keep track of things - then so be it. At my last unit in Germany - our Commander wanted EVERYTHING in writing. So e-mail was the way to go. If there was a problem? Everyone was on the same page and dealt with it - in a meeting.

If you have problem with someone - anywhere - communicate with them. Try to resolve the issue. Just know there are some issues that will NEVER be resolved and you just have to sit back and watch as everything you forewarned about comes to fruition. You don't need to get involved. You don't need to say "I told you so".

you need to realize, Rhonda, that there are people who are so "set" that even if you gave them proof of their "friends" misdeeds - screen prints or a video - they still would NOT believe it and claim YOU to be the liar. Same will be said in a work environment.

Hope that helps.

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answers from Kansas City on

"Minor" issues? I prefer to deal with myself.
Cyber bullying is illegal and it happens.
Some people learn from their mistakes.
I don't feel it's a "race" issue at all.
Maybe I'm nor getting your question.
Reporting has its use. Even on a site as this.
Are you having issues with this site?
Sorry--again--I really don't see what you're getting at with this topic of "tattling."


"Minor" issues? I prefer to deal with myself.
Cyber bullying is illegal and it happens.
Some people learn from their mistakes.
I don't feel it's a "race" issue at all.
Maybe I'm not getting your question.
Reporting has its use. Even on a site as this.
Are you having issues with this site?
Sorry--again--I really don't see what you're getting at with this topic of "tattling."

1 mom found this helpful
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