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Work Stress writes:
I like my job but I loathe going to work every day because I work with someone who makes my life hell. She thinks she knows everything and bosses me around even though she has no authority at all. It’s a small office and I can’t get away from her and if I say anything to her she is so spiteful and gossips to others and I feel like she could hurt me professionally.
I don’t know how to keep dealing with her without losing my mind or just quitting my job.
Dear Work Stress,
Wow! It must be rough if you would quit a job your like because of a co-worker!
Do you feel like this is harassment? Does she do this with everyone? Has anyone tried speaking to management about this? If not, maybe you and others could go together to HR in an effort to team build or increase positive energy in the office, rather than attacking her? (Catch more flies with honey idea)
Let’s say, for the sake of this letter, that you’ve tried HR and have gotten no relief. What do you do now?
You absolutely have the choice to spend some time looking to transfer or find a new job in your field.
You also have the choice to elevate your complaints about the situation. If you do this please make sure to document every interaction with this person – even things this person says to others that are reported to you.
However, I want to suggest something else – something a bit edgy and out of the box – something that could maybe create a peaceful work environment where no one is fired and no one has to quit and everyone can be heard. Its called a win-win situation.
Have you thought about inviting this person to lunch or out after work? Get to know them better? Let them get to know you better?
I get it. You probably pretty much hate this person at this point. What I am suggesting is not the easy thing to do. But, forming a respectful relationship may allow you to be honest in the future when she behaves aggressively or bossy. It may allow you to feel empowered – which is the real reason your are miserable – you feel powerless.
Here’s the thing. We are so hostile to each other in the world today. People are calling the police on others for having yard sales and selling lemonade. We file lawsuits at the drop of a hat. We blame, accuse, demand satisfaction when we’ve been offended, and spend our days fighting instead of communicating or working on the problem.
Yes, you absolutely have the right to work in an environment that is safe and where you feel safe. But are guaranteed the right to work in an environment free from annoying and bossy people? Free from disagreement? Free from opposite personalities?
Not really. Not as long as bossy doesn’t cross the line of personal safety or bullying.
That means YOU have some level of self-responsibility for creating a peaceful environment. Responsibility means owning your possibly passive role in the situation. This is not blame! This is not saying you’ve done anything wrong. This is just a bit of self-reflection.
Is it possible, that while your co-worker has been overly aggressive, you’ve been overly passive? Dr. Phil likes to say that we teach people how to treat us. Maybe it’s time to teach your co-worker how you want to be treated.
I’m not suggesting you return the aggressiveness – there is another option. Try assertiveness.
Assertiveness means that you deal with the situation directly, but in a way that both people win. It’s the WIN-WIN point of view. It’s the dealing with the situation head-on so you don’t have to file complaints, lawsuits, or quit a job your like.
It’s communication. It’s communicating from a place of love – love for self, if not love for your co-worker. It allows you to take your power back instead of giving it away to management or to the aggressive co-worker.
As modern, tech savvy, social media blurb posting humans, we really need to learn how to talk to each other again. We just don’t talk. It’s a lost art. It’s really creating a separateness between us as people – which leads to apathy for one another.
Maybe she’s not so bad. Or, maybe she is. It’s okay to set your boundaries. It’s okay to advocate for yourself. It’s super important to act in line with your integrity and self-confidence. But, it’s possible to do so in a win-win way that allows you to feel good about yourself and not be on the receiving end of an aggressive person at work.
You can do this! You can choose to shine your light! You can create a peaceful environment for yourself at work – despite what others are doing. Trust me, when you are coming in with a great attitude and shining your light, the person with the bad attitude either eases up or begins to get attention from management on their own.
Don’t give up something you enjoy because of someone else. Be assertive. Come from a win-win attitude. Feel good about yourself and your response to the situation. TAKE YOUR POWER BACK.
You got this!