What do you do when you are wrongly accused of doing something at work? Many years ago I worked at a Credit Union bank and one day our lead teller had a woman who cashed a check at her window, as protocol the teller counted out the money as she handed it to the member. The woman left and then a few minutes later came back in the bank demanding to speak to the branch manager reporting that the teller had cheated her of several hundred dollars. The branch manager tried to calm the member down but she was insistent that the teller was a thief and tricked her into thinking she gave her the right amount of money when she did not and when the member got to her car and recounted the cash it was incorrect. Now the lead teller was beside herself, she had never been accused of stealing money, but what she did showed me and the other tellers a lesson I do not think we will ever forget.
1. She remained calm, how she did this I will never know because we were all upset, but she was calm and went over with the branch manager to listen to what the accusations were.
2. She was quite, she allowed the woman to tell her story until she was done. She did not interject anything she was silent. Amazing! most people would get in the woman’s face telling her what they thought, but she did not.
3. Once the woman had her say and the branch manager took down all of the information, asking exactly how much was the check, how much did the teller count out, etc. Then the teller said to the branch manager “come with me and let’s count out my drawer” Her drawer would provide all the factual truth that this teller needed, she knew this and was confident that it would prove her innocent of stealing. The woman’s check was in the drawer and so was all of her money. It would have to balance, be short or over if she had made any mistakes.
4. She allowed the branch manager and another teller do the counting, she stepped out-of-the-way and allowed those she trusted to take over to support her case. It was amazing she did not interfere with the situation, which would have made the problem worse. How smart was that?
Well as you probably guessed the teller’s drawer balanced and no money was missing. What the woman who accused her did not realize is that there was a camera watching ever move that the tellers make with their cash drawers and watching the film with the woman showed her the complete transaction and everything after that point until she came back in the bank. The woman left, still stating she was correct, but everyone else knew that she was wrong. For whatever reason she thought maybe she could get a few extra bucks by accusing the teller of shorting her, but what she did not realize is that there were systems in order to prove what really happened.
The points I took away from this experience that I will use if any of my employees or myself are ever accused of any wrong doings at work are these;(1) remain calm, if you are innocent. (2) Allow the accuser to have time to tell their story, and be quite until they are done. (3) Provide any factual information you have to prove your side. Factual, not verbal, facts speak louder than your words. (4) Seek out those who can support your side and allow them to step in.
Being wrongly accused is a hard situation to handle, but if you remember these four important points you will handle it much better and the facts will speak for themselves.