Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Guard Against Professional Attacks And Don’t Be An Attacker

Watch out!You probably have had an experience where someone you trusted or thought was an ally, attacked you. Often it happens when you are fighting dragons and had depended upon that person to watch your back not stab you in it. That seems to be one of those life events that, if it hasn’t happened yet, it probably will.

Most of us are somewhat prepared for an attack when we know there has been  a long-standing conflict. What rocks our world is when we never expected it from that person or about that thing.

The result often is that we learn to be more cautious about our conversations and actions, even with those we would like to trust completely. The harsh truth is that the employee with whom you have shared many personal opinions may use those conversations against you. Or, the employee you have cut corners to help will resent not being helped again and will use your past actions as a weapon.  (“No good deed…etc.”)

The second part of these thoughts about being attacked is to remind you to not be the attacker. If you have a complaint to make, make it and do it openly. But, be very, very certain that the situation is so extreme you must use personal conversations or actions that were meant to be helpful to you or others, against someone. Even if you win you lose and so does everyone else.

When you drag in long ago grievances, remarks made in trust and confidence to you, or the actions of someone who clearly meant to do well by you or others, you show yourself to be untrustworthy and unappreciative and you make the other person sorry they were ever open or helpful. Oh yes, you can probably justify it to yourself  and even get a few others to agree with you. However, you can bet you will never be viewed in the same way again.

I’m not saying you should tolerate wrongdoing, just that how you handle it should be based on the whole picture of your relationship with someone and how they have acted with you and others over time. One ill-judged statement or action should not overturn years of sincere efforts to be a decent manager. One or a few times of being denied something you wanted does not merit reviewing everything you know to see what can be used as pay-back.

None of us are perched so high we can’t be attacked–and all of us can attack someone–for a reason or for no reason. Never assume you’re completely safe and never give people reason to watch their backs when you’re around.

September 6th, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 12 comments


  1. First, is that photo real? It’s so funny!

    Second, this article is really pertinent to what happened in our section last year. A really nice manager lost his position because two women got mad over having to change their work times and dug up everything they could think of to use against him, even a time when he stretched a rule to help one of them out with childcare problems. It was so wrong! Even though all of us wrote letters to support him he still got moved and missed out on a higher position he deserved. The only good thing was the two women still had to change their work times and now people distrust them both. But that’s not enough for what they did!!!

    Happy Labor Day. I’m working!!

    Comment by denisek | September 7, 2009

  2. Tina says: I’d call you Dependable Denise, but that doesn’t really sound like a compliment! Thanks for commenting and pointing out real life examples. I was aware of the situation you’re referring to and thought it was a shame. People who do that kind of unfair thing are cruel as well as self-centered.

    About the photo: Yes, it’s a genuine photo taken by my son-in-law, Casey McCorison. That’s a Prairie Hawk being attacked by a Western Kingfisher. A nest must have been close by…and the Prairie Hawk may or may not have bothered it. A great photo though!

    Comment by TLR | September 7, 2009

  3. Glad you explained about the photo. I have another story for it..wouldn’t you know. The Prairie Hawk had been terrorizing all the smaller birds and was sitting on his post thinking he was king of the prairie and could do what he wanted. Finally one “king” fisher got sick of it and decided to take him on. The Prairie Hawk flew away in disgrace and the Kingfisher was a hero because he (or she) was the only one with guts enough to do something.

    I hear you’re going to be up this way before long. I’ll try to get to your class so you can terrorize me or vice versa. W.

    Comment by wiseacre | September 7, 2009

  4. Tina says: Thank you Wiseacre for another interpretation of the photo. You may be correct! Yes, I’m going to be in Laramie, hopefully before heavy snows. Since you know that, it narrows your identity down to only a few people. Hmmm!

    Comment by TLR | September 7, 2009

  5. Hello Tina, you’ve got a great website here. I didn’t even know about it but now that I do I’ll come back.

    You can use my full name and department if you want. I’m writing because Denise showed me your article and her comment. I’m the one she was talking about, as you already knew.

    I wasn’t complained about for harassment or inappropriate touching or anything like that. They even said in the hearing that I had never been sexually inappropriate, but they thought I was gender biased.

    Two women kept logs for a month after I temporarily changed the work hours due to two other women being out on maternity leave and we didn’t have enough people to staff the desks during open hours.

    They logged every time I said things like, “you women” or, “Hi Gal!” One of the complaints was that I gave a thumbs up and said, “Pretty color on you.” The most ludicrous one, which even the hearing panel made a face about was that I said everyone would be jealous of me going to lunch with seven nice looking ladies. That was when I was buying lunch for all of them to celebrate with the two young women who were taking maternity leaves. By the time they were done they had twenty or so instances of me allegedly showing negative gender bias. They had never corrected me or even frowned in response, in fact they had often said how much better they liked the work since I was assigned there. But, in the hearing they said it demoralized them. Oh, and one of the complaints was that when I let one of them work a flex-time to help with child care I violated procedure and forced her to violate procedures too. (That was never even considered by the department because I hadn’t violated procedure.)

    When I came out of the hearing room one of the women walked over to me with tears in her eyes and said she didn’t want to get me in trouble but ethically she had to say something and she hoped I would understand.

    My attorney told me to keep moving and not respond, but I told the woman that at first I had wondered “why?” but by then I didn’t care about her reasons any more, I just wanted to try to get over the pain she and the other woman had caused to me and my family and friends and the damage she had done to the office and the whole department.

    She had no real reasons, she and the other woman were upset and thought if they could get rid of me the schedules wouldn’t be changed. (They were changed anyway because I didn’t make that decision on my own.) They showed their true selves.

    I was found guilty of unprofessional communications and was moved from the assignment, but not disciplined any other way. Everyone has been really supportive but that also means they still think about it. So, it’s like 22 years of awards and honors overlooked and this is what I’ll be remembered for. However, I love this profession and I love this job, so I’m still working hard and, with God’s help, have slowly started feeling alive again. No one knows the toll these kind of unfair complaints can take.

    Sorry for the long vent/rant. I thought someone reading your article might think about causing trouble for someone over trivial things and maybe they’d stop and think about what it will say about them and if that’s the way they want to approach it.

    Keep up your good work with this site.

    Comment by Tom | September 9, 2009

  6. Tina says: Tom, thank you for your openness. I edited your remarks for space and to conceal identity a bit. (Liability issues and all of that.) I hope you know that you are well respected and admired and that the incident has not overshadowed your accomplishments.

    Keep this in mind too….everyone else has had things happening in their own work and lives and only care about those things! I don’t mean that flippantly, because I know from experience how these things can make you feel. Time will help!

    Thank you again. Stay in touch. Tina

    Comment by TLR | September 9, 2009

  7. There are two sides to most of these situations and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Good article though and I like the photo that goes with it. That must have been a lucky chance for sure. J.J.

    Comment by J.J. | September 10, 2009

  8. Tina says: Thanks for commenting, J.J. I do agree that there are always varying viewpoints. However, there are times when the situation is clearly weighted one way or another. That is why investigating these complaints thoroughly is so important–so the full truth can be known.

    About the photo: Casey is very patient and takes many photos in quick succession. As other nature photographers have said about their work, he often doesn’t realize what he has until he gets home and looks at each shot! He knew about this one though and had only a few seconds to get it, before the hawk flew away.

    Comment by TLR | September 10, 2009

  9. Hello Tina! I will be as open as your other writer. Some may think that pastors don’t have the same problems with attacks and even with being the attacker, but we do, I’m sorry to say. As a young man I was disloyal to my senior pastor and was partly responsible for his removal from his position. I was unfair to him because I lacked understanding about his work and because I was centered on myself not on God’s work in our church.

    I asked for God’s forgiveness and had that assurance, but I had no peace until I repented in a public meeting with my former pastor present. There were tears from both of us but it was needed for healing the rift.

    I have also been attacked, once in a situation that was eerily similar to the one in which I was involved years earlier. I went to the junior pastor involved and told him my own story. Once again, tears were shed as we realized how senseless our personal quarrels were in light of the message of love we were trying to share with others.

    The Golden Rule is stated in one way or another in almost every faith and moral code and continues to be a very effective guideline. Treat others the way you want them to treat you.

    Your work is needed and I keep you in my prayers. Don

    Comment by Don R. | September 12, 2009

  10. Tina says: Thank you, Don, for sharing your story! You are always inspirational to me! T.

    Comment by TLR | September 12, 2009

  11. Tina, I believe that things come to us at the right place and the right time for when we need them, and your article comes at a time when I needed it. Thanks so much for your insight and for your blog. It’s always the highlight of my day, and helps me stay/keep on the right path for success.

    Comment by Jennifer | September 12, 2009

  12. Tina says: Thank you, Jennifer! You are such an introspective person-it comes through in everything you do and say..and write. You can’t help but be successful!

    Comment by TLR | September 13, 2009

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