Dealing with Difficult Co-workers
Here's my experience and how I reacted, it's not entirely the best way to handle it but I survived.
I've always heard about dealing with difficult people in the workplace, and I have had to deal with people that I thought were difficult, but never in my life have I ever dealt with someone that I thought had something totally against me. This was an entirely new experience for me. I've been lucky enough to work with people throughout my lifetime that have been pleasant.
Some of the difficult people that I've dealt with have been pretty ambitious, and they moved on to other jobs. Other times I would move on to another job but not because of them. It was usually because I was looking for other opportunities for myself.
Not too long ago I finally found a job that I liked. I loved the work and I even liked the people that I worked with.
The only issue was that there was a worker there that was a difficult to deal with. This is what I heard when I was about to enter the new team. I didn't know what they meant by that. I like to think that I can get along with anyone and have an easy enough time ignoring those that I can't get along with. So it couldn't be that bad.
I started working there and it was all fine and dandy. I didn't think much of it. Everyone seemed amicable and things seemed to work pretty smoothly.
The difficult co-worker was the same pay grade as me, so I would have thought we could see each other at least as equals in the same team, despite the fact each of our teams did entirely different projects.
Signs of problems started to show up when this difficult co-worker started to complain that my boss was favoring my project, and that her team was bigger and thus more important. I didn't think much of it. I agreed with her that her team was bigger and is more important. This started to be a regular occurrence.
I was new to the team and I remember making a pretty big mistake, and was forgiven for the mistake. The co-worker was pretty agitated about it. She asked that I be reprimanded much more harshly. I was distraught already, and she could see that I was already down. It was pretty disturbing for me, but I was starting to see what kind of person she was starting to become. It had nothing to do with her workload, and yet she tried to get involved.
Again starting brand new I didn't know too much about the job so when my boss had assigned me a project I would do it. My co-worker thought it was her team to do the job and verbally attacked me, claiming I wouldn't be able to complete the task and that I was trying to take over her work. I told her I didn't have a connection with the work and that if she wanted the project she could have it. I'm not sure why she felt so threatened by me. I'm a new person in the team. It turned out that it wasn't even her workload and she had yelled at me out of a misunderstanding on her part.
At this point I started getting scared for what I had gotten myself into. This co-worker has been there for a while, and is very sociable. She has a larger team and seemed to be a ringleader of sorts. I started to feel like I was in prison and she was some sort of prison gang leader. I've never been the type to be confrontational or outspoken but she was creating a stress inside me that started to eat away at me.
There would be tons of tiny little actions that she would do, that I didn't know were intentional or not. She'd askd me to make a presentation in front of her group about my project, only so that three weeks later she would create something very similar to my project to present to her own team. She actually invited me to see what she had done, and I thought to myself what the heck? She even had the nerve to ask if I was threatened by what she created.
In my mind, I didn't know what to do. I've never dealt with someone that would go out of their way to get to me like this. I tried to use the "kill them with kindness" tactic. Her team was behind on their work, and I agreed to help her team by working overtime to help them catch up. I thought maybe this would provide some rapport between me and her. It did a little, but only to the point that she tried to treat me as her subservient employee. She tried to continually ask me to do work for their team afterwards, when I was busy with my own projects. I realized this wasn't a good idea.
I tried to ignore her. This would work for a little while, but I am on the same area as her and as such we would still have meetings together and what not. That is where she'd crack jokes about myself and my project. So I realized closing myself off would prevent me from engaging with my other co-workers that I do get along with.
I've had discussions with my boss about it, because I don't really want to engage in conversations with her. She takes over conversations and gets very pissed off when I make any mention of wrong doings. As a non-confrontational person, it's very difficult to talk head on with someone like this.
I thought that all was lost. I couldn't get out of such a thing and have to exit this job that I like. Soon some people started coming up to me. They notice this co-worker's harshness and tactless approach in doing things. I realized I wasn't crazy. My boss acknowledged the way that she treated me. This is when I realized that sometimes getting back at people might not be worth it. Try to stay amicable, and let everyone see the true colors of personalities.
My co-worker might not realize the way that she acts, because no one is able to explain to her that her actions are hurtful and demeaning. She might be going through something at home that we're all not aware of. There's always another side of the story.
I didn't really resolve anything with my actions, but I learned what not to do when dealing with a difficult person. I'm still trying to adjust to find different ways of dealing with her, but I'm convinced I'll crack the code and get her to like me eventually.