Working With the Office Monster

Dear Anita,

I have been at my job for a few years and have finally become fed up with working and dealing with my horrible co-worker every day. To our supervisors and higher ups she is overly nice, but she treats the rest of us like dirt.  I cannot stand her antics and the bullying she is doing around the office. Can you please offer some advice and shed some light on this awful situation?

This reminds me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

It looks like you have a very difficult and unbearable co-worker on your hands. As much as we wish the office to be a safe and drama-free workplace, unfortunately a few poisonous apples can manage to slip through the cracks. These are Witch of Workpeople that you do everything in your power to avoid and they still manage to weasel their way into your day. They are incredibly difficult to please, nasty, unethical, and are on a mission to make others’ work lives miserable. They are also incredibly skilled at manipulating others around them. Luckily, your pal Anita has a few tricks up her sleeves to help handle these intolerable creatures.

Do your best to remain as far away from them as possible. This does not mean you need to switch jobs, hide under a rock, or flee to the closest neighboring country. If there is an open desk away from the office monster, talk to your boss or human resources manager about making the switch. If you feel comfortable, you may want to mention the reasons why you are requesting the move — something along the lines of “I feel that my current location is not a neutral or conducive environment for me to work as efficiently as possible.” If a new location is not an option, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling earphones. It is one way to drown out the chatter and unpleasantness.

It is important to remember that most bullies will end up digging a hole so deep, they will find themselves out of a job. Many act the way they do to get an edge over potential competition by emotionally and professionally damaging their co-workers. Do your best to avoid engaging with this individual. If you have to interact with him or her on a daily basis, be prepared to handle any disagreements or friction ahead of time. When we are caught off guard, emotions kick in and we are less likely to think rationally. If you have a strategy, you can handle the situation like the professional you are!

As any normal person would, you may begin to feel that retaliation is in order. After putting up with and being put downScary! by this behavior, it only seems fair to fight back. It is very important that you hold back with all your might and do the opposite; kill them with kindness. It is the best way to handle your emotions. They will have little-to-no reason to continue to engage you in their antics or become frustrated with not being able to get a rise out of you.

Hopefully by now, this individual has begun to back off of you, and you are getting back to what is important: work. But don’t, for a single second, think that the situation has left the premises. Most unpleasant people are habitual bullies. They will wait until they see you at a weak point and will attack like a wild animal. Ever hear of the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? The manipulator will wait until they have an opportunity to exploit you or bring you down again. In short, keep up your guard and continue to watch your back.

If further action is needed, I suggest you call a meeting with your boss and human resources manager. It will be more meaningful to all parties involved that you are being proactive, and it will be a big wake-up call to your horrible co-worker that you are no longer going to tolerate this bad behavior. Again, leave your emotions at the door. Be strong and stand up for your right to a psychologically safe and sound workplace. State your case, but try not to point fingers. Your boss or human resources manager may request further explanation or encourage you to briefly go in to detail about how you are feelings. It will be helpful to check out my post on Tackling Employee Tensions to be prepared for a conflict resolution meeting.

Have you ever encounter an office monster? If so, what did you do to diffuse the situation?

Have a question? Ask Anita Clew! Visit to submit your tough one!

Have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

-Anita Boo

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Loretta
    Oct 14, 2014 @ 13:09:02

    I wish I had read this a month ago it is good advice. One question though what if this person is your boss and the higher up’s hands are tied.


    • anitaclew
      Oct 14, 2014 @ 14:11:43

      Loretta, That’s a tough situation. If the HR department or other higher-ups cannot or will not do anything about the situation, you haven’t been given much hope. If you can’t transfer yo another department with a different boss within your company, your options are looking for another job or waiting it out until your boss’s retirement! If you decide to stay in your current position, I found this article with some tips on dealing with a monster boss:


  2. samual77
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 01:06:30

    I like that article. I have a link on my blog that leads to other articles I wrote. One of them is about Temporary Employment Agencies.


  3. Andrew John Cheadle
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 12:54:08

    Have you tried to record her during her “Hyde” phases? Cell phones w/cameras in addition to computers with webcams (don’t forget the audio) can document her bullying for all to see. With modern technology her Hyde can’t hide for long.


  4. Robin
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 05:42:08

    I have a coworker who is passive aggressive in her bulling techniques. She is the queen of the work place having bullied her way through the rank and file. She was even removed from a leadership position because of her behaviors with others. She now has me alone to bully into submission…sorry she dialed the wrong number! I document everything…started a communications log in the small back office we share and even have begun to open my opportunities to show her true colors to management without being a “crier” I am happy with the current situation because it has tied her to doing her job and not making mine miserable.


  5. Loveday Onyemachi Chigbu
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 10:21:44

    I need a good Job,because it has been long that I am looking for good JOB.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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