How to Deal With an Insecure Supervisor and Insensitive Co-Workers

Photo: Advice Guru

Liz Pryor from Studio City, Calif., is the recently-appointed "GMA" Advice Guru and she is here to help with life's tough questions. Read her responses to the viewer-submitted questions below.

Hi Liz,

First off, congrats! My question is, I work in an office with six women that get along very well. However, our supervisor is very insecure about herself and therefore insecure about our friendship. She tends to speak with us individually and tell us something that we said to her about the other that is not true. And she likes to control, manipulate and will go as far as to separate us. We never want to step on her toes in fear of our jobs (especially these hard economic times). But how do we tell her enough is enough with all your unwanted drama? Thank you in advance for your advice!

- Allison in Florida

Liz's Advice:

Oh Allison, I've heard a lot on women, and work, and friendship, and I have to be honest, this is in the top five most challenging questions I've ever received -- very sticky stuff in that she is your supervisor. So let's figure it out.

My instinct is to remind you that there is always power in numbers. The fact that you and your co-workers all get along well enough to have figured this woman out is truly impressive. At least her antics have failed. You aren't upset with one another because you know she is lying, and you have pegged her manipulation. Good for you guys.

I want to present a few different options to you. The first being, if you all can agree to it, is to confront her together. The power in numbers is really significant here. As a group you could plan out what you would say and most importantly decide how you will present. I would suggest you begin by telling her that all of you want to sit down and have a conversation. If she asks what it's about you can answer that it's about the office environment. Make sure to map out the meeting in your heads. And open the conversation with the idea that you feel there are miscommunications and misunderstandings of situations going on in the office that you are all are hoping to put to an end.

Give it a beat and then ask her how she feels about it and if there is anything you guys can do to help this shift. If she asks for specifics you could give examples of this but I wouldn't go at her right there in the meeting and bust her on previous behavior, it will only shame her and could be counterproductive. She knows what she's done, you guys are just letting her in on the fact that you know!

Initially you could think of this meeting as giving her the opportunity and permission to change her ways. The part that is going to be tough is that you really will need to try and go at her without going for the jugular, and with as few accusations as possible. The bottom line is you want her behavior to change and in order for that to happen she cannot feel attacked. She is insecure to begin with, right? It might help you to realize that what has happened is the past she knows already, and you will be best off if you focus on how you would like the environment to look and feel in the future. Most people when confronted are taken so off guard they will need time to process, so leave room for that.

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