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Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — Some money has gone missing from our petty cashbox at work. My manager asked me to keep an eye on someone (just because I often have lunch with this guy on account of our schedules) he suspects. I have nothing to do with the cashbox, and I don’t like snitches. I can’t believe my friend would do something like this, but you never know, and I don’t want to get involved. What should I tell my manager to get out of it? — Boxed In
Dear Boxed In,
Taking your description at face value, I doubt I could undermine your manager’s authority more than he’s done himself by saying he’s a nut job, technically speaking, of course. Some people just don’t appear ready for authority over others. This sounds more like an episode of Punk’d or a page out of a What Not to Do page I’m imagining, from Managing for Dummies.
Now onto you and your authority over yourself. If ostensibly you see nothing, then you have nothing to report. Right? But if you did see something firsthand, would you report it or stick to your “no snitching” guns? Mull over your values now: do you strongly believe stealing or snitching is wrong no matter the circumstances, or do think your loyalty to a friend is more important than to your employer? No one can answer those questions for you so get on it, cupcake.
Dear Boxed In,
“Snitch?” What are we in prison? Are you going to shank someone?
Listen, as a parent, I may have a different take on things. You see, one who cannot honor the bounds of good citizenship, i.e. not biting the hand that feeds him, does not deserve protection from his deeds coming to light. If my child were to steal or bully or in some other way offend the bounds of good citizenship, I would expect someone to inform me. Why? Not because I seek to punish, but rather to have that child bear the karma of the act, learn from it and grow into a better person and a better citizen.
Harsh? No. I believe living in truth is the only way to live a life of peace. And I don’t mean the peace of self-righteousness. I mean the peace of living honestly with no baggage to lie, hide, of be ashamed of. That is peace.
If your friend is innocent, then you have nothing to fear about reporting what you hear from him on the crime. If, however, as I think you believe, your friend is guilty then you must ask yourself, is it better to hide the sins of a thief, so he may feel as if he has gotten away with it, giving him license to steal again?
Find the middle way. Tell your friend that others, i.e. your manager, believe he stole the money and that for the safety of his job and reputation he should return it. If he was slippery getting it out, he can be slippery getting it back in. You will have given your friend the opportunity to learn from his mistakes—hopefully, without the cost of his job.
Just tell your manager you will keep your ears open. Frankly, you do not want to be seen as aligned with the thief. Then, tell your friend what needs to be said, “Whoever stole the money is stupid and short-sighted. The few dollars will not compare to a salary. They should return the money before they have lost the security of a paycheck for a few extra dollars in their pockets between paydays.”
Do the right thing,
Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.
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