You went out with your coworker and now he’s telling the entire office that you’re easy. What do you do? When you enter into any relationship with someone, the two of you form a silent pact of respect, loyalty, and confidentiality. Your coworker has both disrespected you and broken that pact. What can you do when this happens?

1) Understand Where They’re Coming From

The first thing to realize is that broken people break others. If this coworker broke your pact and he’s speaking badly of you, he is speaking out of pain. It may be pain from what happened between you two or it may be completely unrelated. This doesn’t justify what he’s doing, but it’s important to understand that the reason he’s doing this is because he doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

2) Don’t Sink to Their Level

Just because they spoke badly of you doesn’t mean that you turn around and do the same. If you know who you are and you’re not a disrespectful person, don’t let your coworker turn you into one. Don’t give anyone the power to change your values and affect your way of life. Stay true to your character regardless of the circumstances.

3) Stop Trying to Control Your Circumstances

You can’t control what your coworkers think or say about you no matter how hard you try. What you do have the power to control is your reaction to the situation. Yes you could dwell on what happened but you also have the ability to learn. Nothing happens by chance. Every circumstance carries a message. Instead of allowing your emotions to control you, take this message and learn from it. Maybe it’s given you clarity on what type of partner you want. Maybe this is the catalyst that helps you make the change that you’ve always wanted to. Whatever it is, focus on the message, not the messenger.

4) Don’t Justify Yourself to Anyone

You know who you are and you know exactly what happened. When you accept yourself, you don’t owe anyone any justifications and the more you explain yourself, the guiltier you look. Time will take care of everything, so let it. Focus on yourself. If you realized you need to make changes in your life, now is the time.

Ultimately, you control how you let this affect you. You decide how you move forward. If there’s truth in what he says, then decide whether or not you want to change. If you do, then stop waiting. Your repetition becomes your reputation, so if something needs to change, make it happen. If not, accept yourself for who you are and don’t give anyone the power to shame you. If it’s not true, don’t let the lies bother you. You know your value and you know who you are.

No one can take that away from you.

-Adriana Gallardo