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I suspect my older colleague of misconduct in test

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company worker in my 30s. I think an older colleague in my department has done something dishonest which I find inexcusable.

The company conducts a general knowledge test once a year, and this colleague scored in the top rank from among several hundred employees. A large number of other colleagues in our department also achieved high scores. Working in the same department, I have a pretty good idea of the knowledge level of the others. Though I have no proof, I can only think there has been systematic cheating.

The older colleague in question is a hard worker. Each time before the test, he would put pressure on me by saying, “This time, you will definitely be among the top rank, OK?”

Honestly speaking, that annoyed me, although at the same time, it encouraged me to try my best. As a result, I achieved a satisfactory score, but I was not among those in the highest rank.

The test results are not directly reflected in our performance evaluations or affect our salaries, so it may not be something to get angry about. Still, I have always thought of this colleague as someone for whom ability is first and foremost. If he turns out to be a big liar, I cannot forgive him.

Should I talk to him about it?

G

Dear Mr. G:

You have a strong suspicion but no evidence. If you were a journalist, you would never be allowed to write this story. There is a strong possibility you would be reporting false facts, and could be subject to a lawsuit for defamation.

If you report this as you have described it to the company management, they will most likely side with your colleague. Such groundless rumors without a shred of evidence would not only defame the colleague, but harm morale among the other employees.

If you cannot offer definitive proof, you should at least provide some circumstantial evidence of the colleague’s misconduct. But proceed very carefully if you decide to take this course of action.

You have yet to decide how to handle this as you are unsure of whether this is truly an issue that requires action. I think for you the real problem is less how to verify your suspicions and more that you feel your trust has been betrayed.

I think you will feel desolate if you can’t clear up your suspicions. I suggest you try to collect information from trusted coworkers in other departments over lunch, without revealing your concerns. You may hear something that backs your suspicion. Or you may realize you completely misunderstood what happened and drop the issue.

If you confront your colleague based only on speculation, you’ll get nowhere. Should you decide to fight, make sure you take measures to protect yourself as well. Honesty is the only approach for honest people to take.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from March 26, 2017, issue)Speech

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