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Old 30.12.2016, 06:14
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How to deal with difficult co-worker

OK, I was going to say "Office b*tch", because that would be more accurate. In a nutshell, a 30-ish chronically unhappy woman who has been hostile to me from day 1. Doesn't return greetings, avoids eye contact, and jumps on every opportunity to make my life hell. Oddly, she is all sweetness and light to people she likes. Bipolar behavior from someone who is basically a miserable person. How to diffuse the situation? I have gone over the scenarios:

- Directly approach her and ask her why she is so unfriendly, and whether I said or did something wrong. I hesitate on this one as without a mediator, this could quickly go in a bad direction and make things worse.

- Ask the boss to mediate. This only puts him in an awkward situation and makes him wonder why I can't handle my own situation.

- Ask HR to mediate: from my experience, HR is equivalent to corporate gestapo and only gives them the opportunity to gather evidence/ammunition to lower raise and bonus.

- Ignore her: this I've been doing, but having her sit in the same area literally radiating hostility is slowly eating away at me.

- Ask a co-worker to mediate, one who I get along with, and gets along with her. I hesitate to do this as we work well together and I don't want to put her in an uncomfortable situation.

For my actual duties, I have very little to do with her as she has a basic admin function.

Any experiences or recommendations? I am afraid that maintaining status-quo (ignoring her) will only work for so long before tensions spill over.
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Old 30.12.2016, 07:21
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Find another job or ask her on a date.
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Old 30.12.2016, 08:08
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Instead of directly asking a coworker to mediate, perhaps you could very diplomatically ask someone what you have done to cause her upset. By asking very politely you don't risk it being misconstrued as you being unpleasant about her behind her back.
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Old 30.12.2016, 08:36
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Man up and just ask her what's wrong, you really think getting a 3rd person involved would help the situation???
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Old 30.12.2016, 08:50
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

It's not bi-polar behaviour, but never mind

Is there any reason that she might not like you that you can't do much about? Ie Nationality, Language, Race, Religion etc? If it is that something like that (and even if it's not), talking about it probably won't help and putting her on the spot in front of co-workers and managers will probably get her back up even more.

I would be super nice to her (not ignore her). Bring her cups of coffee/cake/biscuits, offer to get her things/help her out, compliment her etc etc. Be so nice that she has to be nice back eventually.
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Old 30.12.2016, 09:01
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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Man up and just ask her what's wrong, you really think getting a 3rd person involved would help the situation???
That... except for the wording. Man up implies that men are braver and, well...
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Old 30.12.2016, 09:06
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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That... except for the wording. Man up implies that men are braver and, well...
Didn't get a trigger warning first? The horror. Safe space is down the hall.
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Old 30.12.2016, 09:32
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Maybe it´s you and the radiating hostility is only in your imagination and you are projecting your own frustrations on your co-worker.
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Old 30.12.2016, 09:44
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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For my actual duties, I have very little to do with her as she has a basic admin function.
Then, why do you care that much about getting along with her? I think it's her right to not like you, and it's your right to ignore her!
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Old 30.12.2016, 09:55
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

As a manager myself, I won't get involved in any conflicts where my staff haven't tried to remediate the problems themselves. If you were to approach, my first question would be, "What did she say when you approached her about it?" Likely, HR's response would be "talk to your line manager," so bypassing like that won't help either.

It's a fact that people sometimes just don't get along, and sometimes one person really is the sole cause. Nonetheless, you need to own the problem yourself before you escalate, so set aside the "office b*tch" view and acknowledge that you may have inadvertently triggered her somehow. Set up a private meeting and ask her. Explain to her that you "feel" like she doesn't like you for some reason, and that you'd like to explore whether there's a cause for that and try to find a solution. Wording it like that takes the blame away from any individual and yet puts pressure on her to ensure that she change her attitude (if, indeed, she is aware that she is doing something).

Try that and then give it a few weeks. If it works and then she reverts, approach her gently again. If it doesn't work, note down a couple more egregious examples (don't do this for the first meeting as it makes you the aggressor!) and discuss those with her in a second meeting. After that, it's time to escalate to your line manager.

Of course, if she refuses a meeting within a reasonable time frame, then you can escalate as well, but understand that her schedule may not easily adapt to yours.
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Old 30.12.2016, 10:22
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

I'm not a manager so haven't seen such situations 'from above' as it were, but I've had folk react agressively towards me or ignore me and I would try to avoid the 'you don't seem to like me'. I'd try something along the lines of 'I have the feeling we don't get on with each other as well as I would like. Do you have the same impression / what do you feel about it?'
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Old 30.12.2016, 10:31
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Just kill her with kindness.

cheers
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Old 30.12.2016, 10:43
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Doesn't matter where you work. There will always be someone you don't get on with. Take the bull by the horns & ask her.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:03
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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Just kill her with kindness.

cheers
SC
Someone I know tested this approach. It didn't work at all. Kindness was regarded as a weakness and hence intensified the negativity.
I still think it's a good approach though, an approach that should be coupled with prudence.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:10
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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I'm not a manager so haven't seen such situations 'from above' as it were, but I've had folk react agressively towards me or ignore me and I would try to avoid the 'you don't seem to like me'. I'd try something along the lines of 'I have the feeling we don't get on with each other as well as I would like. Do you have the same impression / what do you feel about it?'
Yeah, I wrote in haste, but that's the spirit I meant. Use words to take the blame off any one individual, and focus on resolution.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:26
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

Since she is a woman and you are a man (I assume) my guess is that she has an issue with how you talk to/about women. In my experience, that is the most common reason for conflicts like this.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:27
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

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For my actual duties, I have very little to do with her as she has a basic admin function.

Any experiences or recommendations? I am afraid that maintaining status-quo (ignoring her) will only work for so long before tensions spill over.
I know you said your professional paths don't really cross but could you approach her on a professional level and "ask for help" on something? Pick something you know she can do (depending on her function, it could be something to do with operating a photocopier/printer or showing you were xyz is filed).

It takes a stone-hearted person not to respond to someone in need of help in an area she is well experienced in and it might break the ice enough to pave the way to broaching the subject of her being grumpy towards you.

Maybe you remind her of a ratbag ex or a horrible teacher from her past - something which might have freaked her out but is totally not your fault.

It sounds like she just needs to get to know you.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:28
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

also sounds like she secretly loves you
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:32
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

I certainly would have a word with her, however, in case the situation actually becomes worse, and she turns out to be a manipulative loon and goes on to complain and cause trouble for you, I would safe guard yourself by writing her a short e-mail first asking her for a work meeting and tell her why: your concerns you have upset her unintentionally in some way and wish to find a solution to work together etc.. If you do have a meeting, make her a coffee

You could also mention to your Boss re your concerns abut why you both don't get along, the effect on the team and your intention to have a meeting with her to clear the air.
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Old 30.12.2016, 11:39
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Re: How to deal with difficult co-worker

blimey people are making this way more complicated then it needs to be, emails, meetings, covering arses, softly softly approach etc etc, just ask her if she has a problem with you, she'll say no and life moves on, or she'll say yes and you can take it from there.
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