How to Deal With a Dishonest Coworker

Confronting a Dishonest Coworker

When's the right time to take your concerns to your boss?
When's the right time to take your concerns to your boss?
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Confrontation can be difficult. Many people don't like confrontation and will go out of their way to avoid it. But sometimes confrontation is the only way to fix a problem before it gets worse.

Before confronting a coworker about dishonesty, consider the level of necessity and the potential consequences. Is the coworker's dishonesty negatively affecting how you or other coworkers perform your jobs? Does it impair the workplace in some other way? If it just annoys you, it may not be worth confronting your coworker. But if there's a measurable impact, you may need to step up and confront him or her.

Keep in mind that few people like confrontations and even fewer enjoy being confronted. To prevent your discussion from turning into a workplace argument, consider taking a gentle approach. It may even turn out that the dishonest behavior that has concerned you is really a matter of misinterpretation. Open communication may show that there's really no problem to solve.

Try to explain to your coworker how his or her behavior affects your performance or the workplace in general. Keep all criticism restricted to how it affects the job and avoid personal attacks. Again, try to be gentle -- you may encounter resistance. By showing concern and compassion toward your coworker, you may be able to address the problem without making it worse.

This approach works well for relatively minor acts of dishonesty. This can include behaviors such as showing up late or leaving early, calling in sick without actually being ill or stealing office supplies. Point out that management might treat these relatively minor infractions seriously but do so without implying you're going to turn your coworker in. It may be enough to change your coworker's behavior.

Some acts of dishonesty are more serious and can adversely affect you and your workplace. In these cases, it's important to go the next step and report the coworker to the appropriate person. We'll look at these situations more closely in the next section.