Sharing the Struggle: Workplace Conflict

Dear June,

My coworker is making my life a living hell.  We have been working together for three years now and, despite my best efforts, we continue to butt heads. She is unprofessional and confrontational in the workplace.  She openly disobeys company policy, which makes my job harder to do.  There have been multiple occasions where she has raised her voice at me, and she encourages gossip.  I love my job and I care deeply for my clients, but I’m tired of feeling attacked on a daily basis.  Please help.

-At My Wits End



What I don’t understand is how this woman still works there.  If she is openly violating company policy, then there is definitely recourse for your company to terminate her employment.  You are right AMWE, she sounds like she might be in the wrong line of work if she can’t handle day-to-day interaction.

Starting today, you need to keep a journal on her activities.  Keep detailed notes including dates, times and exactly what she says to you.  Review the company’s employee handbook and ask your supervisor for a comprehensive list of company policies.  Become very familiar with what should and should not be occurring in the workplace.  Most importantly, you should keep your journaling a secret.  This isn’t a power grab, this is your road to sanity.

Keep your nose clean and kill her with kindness.  If she raises her voice, no matter what she is saying, don’t match her tone.  In fact, tell her it’s difficult for you to understand her message when raises her voice and that you are willing to discuss things when she is calm.  Then walk away.

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Walk directly to your secret journal.  While you can’t make her stop gossiping, you can set a better example.  Whenever someone is talking about another person, address it directly and change the subject.  For example, “My mom used to say a mark of intelligence is the ability to discuss things besides other people.  Tell me about your trip to the beach with your family.”

Once you have a few solid items in your journal, take it to management.  Be careful though.  Too soon and you may not have enough.  Go too late and they may not be able to take action.  Go to management with the knowledge that you deserve to work in an environment that isn’t hostile.  It’s their responsibility to ensure that.  Insist on weekly meetings involving you, the woman, and management, so small grievances don’t have the opportunity to become huge disruptions.  

My advice to you AMWE, is that you don’t put yourself in an “it’s me or her” situation.  Managers who are backed into a corner might start looking at the numbers rather than the qualities of both employees.  Firing an employee costs way more for a company than allowing one to quit.

If you have done all this and there is still no change, start applying elsewhere.  Before you leave ask for an exit interview and make it clear she is the reason they lost a great employee.

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Don’t Take it Another Day,

June Spence

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About June

June was born and raised in the south where “bless your heart” is an insult. Self professed serial dater and an expert in all matters of the heart. June also enjoys volunteering, dancing and sewing.

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