You Know What I Mean?
Dear Fayza: How do I deal with a co-worker bully without killing her?
Americans work, and we work hard (well, if you equate hours worked to effort levels, that is). It's pretty startling to think that we spend more time with our coworkers than our loved ones.
But at 40 hours per week — or more —they're often more "family" than the ones with whom we share blood.
And just like family, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your coworkers. You do have to peacefully coexist with them, though.
But what if you try, try, and don't succeed? What if a coworker has it out for you? That's what our letter writer this week wants to know.
I have been at my job for six and a half years, and I finally became an assistant manager.
Now one of the other assistant managers is out to make me look like I don't know what I'm doing. Every mistake she makes, she somehow blames me. When you try to talk to her about anything, she bullies you and intimidates you.
How should I handle her without having to tattle to our boss all the time?
- Sick of Being a Scapegoat
Congratulations on your promotion. You've been recognized and honored for your diligence, dedication and competence in your profession. It sounds like it was a long time coming. Good for you.
Except, of course, that now the Wicked Witch of the Workplace is trying to undermine all of your excellent achievements.
Let her huff and puff. But I'm not going to let her blow your straw house down.
It's clear your new counterpart feels threatened by your recent ladder climb. By bullying and intimidating you, she's asking for conflict, perhaps hoping you'll shoot yourself in your own foot in your new position.
You've heard the expression, "Kill 'em with kindness." Well, in that vein, I want you to tranquilize her with teamwork.
Disclaimer: I'm certainly not discouraging you from standing up for yourself. Hell, I'd never do a thing like that. You should never take the blame for mistakes you didn't make. That tarnishes your reputation, and I would never advise keeping mum just to keep the peace.
Barring that, instead of passively putting up with what she's aggressively dishing, you're going to have to confront the beast head on. It might be painful, but being direct is the only way you're going to slay the dragon.
The next time she unleashes her witchy wrath upon you — as she inevitably will — turn the tables. Say things like, "How can we make this better?" and "What do you think the best solution would be?"
I know you've heard the expression, "Kill 'em with kindness." Well, in that vein, I want you to tranquilize her with teamwork.
Letting her know that you're interested in resolving the conflict instead of perpetuating it will bring her guard down. It's not you against her, and you know that. Now you have to show her. The way you repackage her cowardly manipulation tactics will speak volumes in proving that to her.
And you'd be amazed at what will happen once you get her to view you as an ally instead of a threat.
If that strategy doesn't humanize her, don't be afraid of the big bad management. It's not "tattling" if you've exhausted the possibilities of being civil and willing to compromise — just be sure that you have.
If you've made a good faith effort to remedy the situation between you two and you're still butting heads, turning to management should be the next natural step. With whom management sides and how it deals with the situation will give you an inside look at the integrity of your superiors and the value it places on its staff — all while giving you a good idea of your own longevity with the company as well.
You don't have to like everyone you work with, but you do have to get along with them. Diplomacy is the fine art of dealing with people in a a sensitive and effective way — and I know you're more than capable of doing that.
You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose and you can also pick your advice columnist. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, message me on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a question in the comments below, and you won't be sorry you picked me.