Thursday, March 16, 2017

Should you tell?

Here's a question:

If you overheard your colleague Mary saying something negative about your friend and colleague John, should you tell John?  Or if you hear from someone that Mary has been saying negative things about John, should you let him know?

My answer is no.  Always, no.

I've been in a situation like this before, where I was tempted to say something, but I always decided that it was none of my damn business.  Partially because I've been Mary before, and things I've said were misrepresented and taken completely out of context (I don't want to get into that story at the moment).  But this is my favorite example of why you shouldn't do that:

In residency, there was an attending at my program named Dr. Lee.  I worked with Dr. Lee and I liked her.  I thought it was mutual.

About a month after I came back from maternity leave, I was informed by a co-resident that some other residents had been complaining about a certain female resident (not me) who had been calling in sick a lot on Fridays and being irresponsible.  Dr. Lee quickly chimed in, "I know who you're talking about!  It's Fizzy, isn't it?"

I was so upset over the fact that Dr. Lee would think the worst of me, and assume I was the irresponsible resident when I never missed a day when she and I worked together.  For a while, I was very angry at Dr. Lee.

Several months later, I talked to one of the residents who was involved in that conversation.  He informed me that:

1) The attending involved in the conversation was not Dr. Lee at all, but was Dr. Green.

2) Dr. Green did think they were talking about me, but chimed in to *defend* me because I'd just had a baby and thought they should cut me some slack.

So basically, the story was wrong AND the person involved was wrong.  I wasted way too much energy being pissed off over that.  And all because a well-meaning person felt like he should give me a "heads up."


  1. Always no for me too.

    Nuff said.

  2. It's also a no for me unless the complaining could affect that person's career (like if the badmouther is complaining to a higher up or IS a higher up), but only if I heard it in person.

  3. I think it depends. I'm a freelancer and not in healthcare--if someone like me develops a bad reputation, people can just decide not to give you work and your career is over. There's a lot that I hear and wouldn't even consider passing on. But if someone's being faulted for something they didn't do or if it's something they did, but it's really out of character for them...yeah, I'd tell. I wouldn't name the sources, but people deserve to be able to do damage control.

  4. Are you able to embed polls into your posts? Might be interesting.

    But otherwise, I'd also say no, I don't pass it along. Your story is a good example of why not to; for me, the rule was simply about trying to avoid gossip, whether spreading or creating it. People talk behind each other's backs all the time; I don't like it, and I try to stay out of it. I'm sure someone out there either has a story or can think of a hypothetical one, but in the cases we generally run across (the types where people are largely gossiping, complaining, or making mean-spirited remarks) I'm not sure how letting someone else know would be productive. What are they going to do about it - confront the other person? Radically alter their behaviors so that the other person stops complaining? More likely they'll just become upset and then it'll become uncomfortable for both people.

  5. Good lesson learned. And another reminder to try to assume the best of others - even when it SEEMS we aren't being given the same latitude. And in this case you were! ... Glad you got to find out the truth and rest easy AND learn from this that you are right, no point in passing these things along as a "head's up."

  6. I agree: no, no, no. Leave it back in high school
    Mind The Medic