At what point does it become detraction?


#1

For a variety of reasons, this has been a frequent topic among family and friends the last few weeks. It’s also a question I’ve struggled with in the past. At what point does valid discussion and/or complaining become detraction? For a hypothetical example, let’s say you’ve been assigned to do a presentation with a coworker. She has a long history of treating you poorly, and gossiping and lying about you around the office. She isn’t a good worker and screws up just about everything she touches. For the client presentation you’re required to dress professionally and modestly and the client expects a succinct, no-nonsense presentation.

Your coworker doesn’t do her share of the work and you have to cover everything she failed to do. The day of the presentation she wears a somewhat sleazy, extremely low-cut dress with no bra and a ton of garish makeup. In addition to treating you rudely and insulting you in front of the client, she goes off-script numerous times, keeps laughing and slurring her speech and knocks over part of the presentation. When the two of you get back to the office, your manager yells at you and you only for screwing up the presentation.

When you get home you’re furious. You tell your wife how poorly the day went. After telling her how she didn’t do her share of the project, mistreated you and screwed up the presentation, you tell her you think she was drunk and that she looked like a prostitute. You then suggest that, based on how she wasn’t held accountable for screwing up the presentation, she’s probably having an affair with your manager.

At what point, if any, did you cross the line from righteous anger and making a valid complaint to committing detraction?


#2

No of us can know for sure whether the facts are as you say, but if they are, you have a right to be angry, but you clearly cross the line when suggesting she is having an affair.


#3

I’m going to go with when you said she was drunk. It went downhill quick after that.:o


#4

It’s a hypothetical situation. I’m more concerned with the overall question of when you go from vocalizing a legitimate complaint to detraction.

Another example: Let’s say someone you know does something that, by itself, while completely wrong isn’t necessarily a big deal. However, it’s number 6,000 in a long string of offenses and, quite frankly, the last straw. Someone else tells you your reaction to the relatively minor wrong is out of proportion. You defend yourself by explaining the long, nasty history with this person and you go into detail about some of the worst of those wrongs. Is that detraction or a valid response to righteous anger?


#5

Sometimes you’ve got to tell how it is, Didn’t Jesus do that ?
When he went to the temple and saw the money exchanges ?
Didn’t he physically throw them out ?
I can’t recall where that is in the bible,someone I’m sure will correct my wording,
But sometimes you got to set people straight,
Unfortunately ,we’re not always in a position of Authority where we can get away with it,
We get laughed at for being to uptight about things,
Hopefully your attitude & approach will be recognised by another potential employer and snap you up for for honesty & integrity ,


#6

Just to be clear, there wasn’t a work presentation. That was a hypothetical situation. It bears some similarities to a situation I discussed with someone recently, but there was no presentation. However, the issue of detraction is something I’m concerned about, most notably what separates a valid complaint or discussion from detraction. I get the feeling most would say, “I can’t tell you what that line is, but I know it when I see it.” The times I’ve talked to priests about it I’ve generally been told that people need to blow off steam or that certain things are a valid expression of righteous anger. That’s all well and good, but how can you reliably identify when you’ve crossed that line?


#7

I don’t think it is appropriate to complain to your wife with the descriptions in your post.

Perhaps sharing you had a rough time because a co-worker who behaved and dressed inappropriately during a business meeting is fine, since you need to relieve some stress. It wasn’t fair that you were being blamed for the mistakes after all.

…But I don’t think it’s ever okay to tell others someone dressed like a prostitute in those words. Second, you don’t know if she’s really having an affair. Even if she were, it is not necessary to spread this information.

I think revealing information which could ruin someone else’s reputation should only be done when necessary such as when someone is in danger or has committed a serious crime. If it isn’t necessary, then it’s probably done for one’s own pleasure or anger.


#8

Hypothetically speaking, in the first example I think it became detraction around the time the person says he thinks the coworker was drunk and is clearly detraction with the prostitute/sleeping with the manager comments. My reasoning is based on the personal nature of the comments (personal attacks rather than comments on actual known behaviors). To some extent this is mitigated by the fact that the only person the comments were made to was the wife, assuming the wife is not the type to gossip and spread the comments. I think we all tend to say things to a spouse that we wouldn’t say to another. But the comments still go too far.

The second example is too vague, but it sounds like things are being said rashly. What comes out of our mouths in periods of frustration and anger are seldom good. In this case when someone points out an over-reaction to a specific action, gushing previous grievances can only reflect badly on the person doing the gushing. Best to acknowledge the over reaction and keep silent about the history.

Getting back to the root question - when is it detraction - I think the answer is, when you say negative stuff to anyone other than the appropriate person in the appropriate situation (e.g. court of law, therapist, job evaluation when you are the supervisor and your evaluation is fair and unbiased). If a person has a genuine grievance in a job situation and it is not possible to deal with the problem directly with the person concerned, it should be taken to a supervisor/up the chain and complaints kept strictly to facts and behaviors with no personal derogatory or emotionally biased statements.


#9

Would having direct knowledge of someone’s behavior change that? I worked with a woman years ago who flaunted the fact that she owed her career advancement to the “favors” she gave her managers.

The second example is too vague, but it sounds like things are being said rashly. What comes out of our mouths in periods of frustration and anger are seldom good. In this case when someone points out an over-reaction to a specific action, gushing previous grievances can only reflect badly on the person doing the gushing. Best to acknowledge the over reaction and keep silent about the history.

Taking a different approach to it, instead of reacting to how you react to that last straw, let’s say someone instead asks why you dislike or don’t get along with that person. Assuming it’s someone who has a valid concern or involvement in the situation, at what point do you go from valid discussion to detraction?

Getting back to the root question - when is it detraction - I think the answer is, when you say negative stuff to anyone other than the appropriate person in the appropriate situation (e.g. court of law, therapist, job evaluation when you are the supervisor and your evaluation is fair and unbiased). If a person has a genuine grievance in a job situation and it is not possible to deal with the problem directly with the person concerned, it should be taken to a supervisor/up the chain and complaints kept strictly to facts and behaviors with no personal derogatory or emotionally biased statements.

Couldn’t this also be viewed as or quickly devolve into detraction? I once had to defend a coworker against another coworker who had a personal beef against him. The one doing the complaining had a long history as a troublemaker. Out of a sense of self-preservation I’d started a journal to document his behavior. It was strictly fact-based and consisted mostly of his own statements taken from emails and chat logs. When I made my case defending the other coworker, our manager decided I was being unfair and trying to ruin the troublemaker’s “good” reputation.


#10

“Speaking poorly of someone else is equivalent to selling them. Like Judas, who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.” Pope Francis

news.va/en/news/never-speak-poorly-of-others


#11

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