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 http://www.anitaclew.com/ask_anita to submit your tough one!

Have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

-Anita Boo

Tackling Employee Tensions

A reader writes:Conflict Resolution

Dear, Anita,

I am having trouble resolving a conflict between two employees in my office. The tension has been mounting and appears to just be getting worse as each day passes. How can I face this problem head on and arrive at an acceptable solution for both parties?

Dear Trouble Tackler,

Personality conflicts and disagreements are bound to arise in the workplace. As a manager or supervisor, you must be prepared with the tools and knowledge to resolve uncomfortable conflict that is brought to your attention at the office. It would be so much easier to sweep the issues under the rug and hope that they just disappear, but the longer you wait to dispel the tensions, the larger the problem can and will become.

First and foremost, make it very clear that you are a neutral party and that it is best to have a human resources representative present during any and all discussions. This can be helpful down the road in case termination or suspension may be needed to end the conflict. Select a room that is away from other employees and where distractions will be limited.

To get the ball rolling on resolving the workplace conflict, you need to call a meeting with all of the parties involved and gather as many facts and evidence as possible. Hearsay and “he said, she said” will not be of any use in these situations. Encourage the people involved to use “I feel” language versus “You do/did” Conflict Resolvedverbiage and coach them to listen to each other’s feelings. Once feelings are presented on both sides, get down to what the root issues are that are causing this “possible” negativity. To lighten the air in the room, it may be helpful to ask both parties to evaluate and share what they view are positives in their working relationship.

Next, ask both parties what actions they are willing to take to change the situation and what they would like to see changed in the behavior of the other person. Each person must accept responsibility for part of the dispute in order to move forward proactively. You want to develop a win-win solution that has the highest rate of a successful outcome.

For a few more quick tips, check out  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Resolving Conflict in the Workplace quick guide online.

I personally enjoyed this video by The Ninja Leadership Academy. View it here or see the video below:

I hope these steps will be helpful for you during your first conflict resolution adventure. Please, readers, share any extra tips and tricks that you have used with positive results!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Best of Luck,
Anita

Disclaimer

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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