Recently I have noticed that the relationship I had built with a co-worker seemed to be eroding. One of the possible reasons might be my manager giving false negative feedback to him on my account. Some context can be found in this post.
My goal is to strengthen a good working relationship with him.
Background: He was the manager of my partner team. One of his team members was assigned to my project and “report” to me in this project. Our regular interactions involve weekly group meetings with all parter teams and managers and ad-hoc work assignment/brainstorm meetings.
We have been working together for three quarters. In the first two quarters we had built rapport. Discussions were open and productive, and we both gave each other high performance ratings and positive feedback in our official performance review reports. Outside of work, we also had a few very enjoyable chats at our company lunch where we about similar workout hobbies and books. Knowing a little bit how he sees the world and himself in it, I have a lot of respect for him as a person.
Starting this quarter, my manager had been sharing with me “constructive feedback” that she claimed this coworker had privately given her. In the beginning, it definitely planted some seeds of mistrust and resentment in me, as I didn’t feel it was fair to only see one side of the story.
But I started to realize it might be her abusive tactics to sabotage the working relationship between me and him. My reasons are that 1) there was no private feedback from him in previous quarters. ; 2) she has demonstrated consistent behaviors of making false comments. It’s likely that she was lying about this too. 3) I’m not sure about her intent, but it’s possible she witnessed our rapport and somehow was not happy about it.
It’s also likely she was doing the the same to him behind my back, giving negative feedback to him made on my account.
He used to back me up in meetings, but recently his comments were almost always against mine. Sometime my suggestions and questions were just dismissed.
Our recent work communication has not been as effective as before. It seems that he was not opening up with me about his true opinions.
How do I respectfully check with him if he had received some negative feedback made on my account? How do I ask if he had given feedback about me to my manager?
I think the best way to build trust is open communication. However, I do not feel comfortable revealing the weird dynamic with my manager. It might stir up a lot of emotions in me and I might be perceived as having personal problems with my manager instead of being objective. However, without that important context, I’m not sure if I’d come across as genuine.