Nobody Likes a Tattletale: Do Not Play the Office Cop

Nobody likes a tattletale A co-worker takes twice as many days off as your company allows. The receptionist is frequently on the phone with her boyfriend. A team member goofs off all the time and never gets his job done. To top it all, your easygoing boss does not seem concerned about all these. Convinced you should tell on others? Thinking of complaining to your HR in the interest of fairness?

Do not play the office cop. Because, nobody likes a tattletale. Moreover, it’s is your boss’s job to keep an eye on everybody at your workplace and correct them if necessary, not yours. You have some influence over your peers, but no authority. Hence, you cannot control them.

Examine Your Motivations

Tattling is a common trait during the formative years of life. Children tend to feel compelled to notify elders when siblings or other children do something wrong. By taking on a parental responsibility under the guise of being helpful, young tattletales use a socially acceptable way to tell on others and get them in trouble. As children age, they learn to discern between when to keep a secret and when to inform on others. Some never seem to outgrow the need to tattle or gossip and bring these traits to the workplace.

A tattletale is usually motivated by selfish reasons. Therefore, examine what is behind your own desire to inform on someone. Are you bothered more by your boss’s laidback attitude rather than the behaviors of your colleagues? Are you trying to draw positive attention to your own righteous adherence to the rules? Is your intention to gain acceptance by management and be seen as a dependable employee? Are you seeking to curry favor with the boss? Or, do you sadistically enjoy having your colleagues punished or embarrassed?

Don’t Rob the Workplace of Trust

A tattletale quickly destroys team morale and brings about increased conflict in the workplace. In successful organizations, team members set high expectations for one another and push each other to work smarter. When you do complain to your boss, you do not want to raise anything that may seem trivial or vindictive.

If you observe an incident that might constitute a breach of ethics or is significant enough to affect your team, you have every right to blow the whistle through the established channels even at the risk of being branded a tattletale. The standards of decency require you to talk directly to anybody who offends you before going to your boss. If a peer persistently interferes with your work or sabotages your projects, you should privately warn the offender that if it happens again, you would report it to your boss.

Wisdom Comes from Knowing What to Overlook

Control the impulse to be worked up and tattletale on issues that have little to do with your own work. Let your resentment subside. Be quiet and keep your head down. If someone’s behavior is genuinely in the way getting a job done, wait for a manager or HR to identify and fix the problem.

For now, think of ways to ask your lenient boss for some extra time off for yourself.

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