Big And A Bully!

Question:

I hope you can help. I am a female @ 5″5′ and about 140 lbs. I am an accountant and I have a coworker who is 6″6′ and 300+ lbs (a male) and a former member of the military during the Vietnam War, which coincidentally is his favorite subject. I find his demeanor coupled with his size very intimidating, explained in detail below. But to clarify, I would find anyone of any size that treats me this way intimidating, but his size does add to the overwhelming feeling that I am unmatched for confrontation, even if it is civilized. A number of times in the past I have said, “NAME, do not yell at me, please speak to me respectfully as I do to you.” This only makes matters worse so I have begun to ignore the behavior which I do not think is great idea because I feel that it gives him the confirmation that his behavior is acceptable. My coworker is in a position in our company that is not a direct superior of mine, but I do respect his seniority in the company. I have been here a year and although I do not have to work with him an a daily basis I do need certain things from him that he seems to feel as if he and his team just do not have to provide. I have to request repeatedly my needs and when he does comply, the information is incomplete which means I have to seek him out for answers (which getting the answers is like “twenty questions” as he is not very revealing) and that puts me right back to where I started, being intimidated. This is a corporation and I have to follow procedures; therefore, his lack of cooperation takes up valuable time and prevents me from getting my job done. I have asked numerous times for help from my superiors and they attempted, but each time I ask, it ends up backfiring with his retaliation in the form of bullying and refusal to comply with the procedures. The last conversation resulted in his accusing me of treating him and his employees with disrespect. The only example he could come up with is that my in-box folders are coler-coded, which in his world apparently translates to him and his team is stupid. I have my folders color-coded so that if I need one, I don’t have to search, I can see it under a mountain of papers.

I have attached below the latest correspondence with my superior as it spells out the situation: “I have continued to have issues with NAME since the situation when you attempted to resolve things a number of weeks ago. I continue to have to take a lot of time and effort to whittle information out of him. He will not sit down in my office to talk and doesn’t seem to attempt to understand anything that I need to discuss without first rejecting it.

He rarely looks at me when he is talking and in the midst of trying to get to the bottom of things and he attempts to walk out of my office two or three times before a conversation is complete. Twice in the last week, he has taken things off of my desk that are not his and attempted to just walk away with them. One was a stack of information on a vendor of which I was waiting for a call to take care of an issue. After I offered to give him a copy of the address, which was the only thing he needed, he refused the copy, walked out with the whole packet of information and kept it until the end of the day. In the meantime the vendor called and I had nothing in front of me to go on and have yet to resolve the issue. The other was a stack of invoices that I was coding. He just came in a grabbed them and started to take off. I had to stop him and say – those are not yours…These are yours and I need to ask you some questions about them. Could we can go over it together? I have asked that he not take the invoices out of the office (because if they disappear, they don’t get paid and that falls on me) and He did not like that. Instead he continues to come into my office take them out to the front desk and loudly exclaim about each one and then toss them back on my desk after the show. I have been coding them beforehand so that he could have an idea what the invoices pertain to, and that has not stopped his “I don’t know what this is” exclamations and then refuses to let me explain it to him and seems to expect me to take the responsibility for anything that he perceives to be incorrect. The idea of having to communicate with him is stressful because I know I am going to be subject to a tirade and that is offensive. For over a year, I have diligently tried to communicate with him. When something doesn’t work, I try something else. His attitude towards me seems as if it is a purposeful attempt to be inconsiderate and to make me feel uncomfortable. I do not think it can be contributed to his idea that I am condescending. Again, I cannot call to mind an instance where I have ever treated him or with deliberate disrespect or impertinence. In contrast, I actually go out of my way to be cordial to him to compensate for the discomfort.. I value my job and I strive to excel in it, but find it difficult to overcome this particular obstacle. I do not want to move forward with this situation still brooding. It continues to interfere with my ability to produce consistent results. I feel that after such a lengthy time in attempting to deal with this, I am not capable of resolving it myself and I am regretful that I continue to have to come to you after a year with this issue. I have a lot of changes coming my way in the next weeks and months, and I do not wish to continue with the situation as it is. I would be grateful if you could help us come to a resolution, and would also be willing to take one of my lunch breaks instead of company time if necessary.” I continue to have issues, and in a sense I feel that you are my last hope. How can I approach this and what are my options?

Signed,

Intimidated


Answer:

Dear Intimidated:

You have followed reasonable procedures to report and seek correction of this individual lack of cooperation and bullying behavior upon whom some of your work depends. Your have confronted him assertively and have prepared an account of his intimidation and lack of cooperation that you sent to your superior.

What else can you do?

Your organization surely has a Human Resources department. Explain to your manager that since the effort to correct this individual’s demeaning and disrespectful behavior, that you feel you must seek additional help, and that you are taking this matter to HR and/or your boss’s boss. Unless your boss can suggest a better option, you should then seek a meeting with HR and/or a manager at a higher level. The important thing is for you to report the actions that hurt your effectiveness and to add that this individual’s demeanor lack civility, consideration, and courtesy. I know that some wise consultants suggest that a person cannot be intimidated unless they allow it. That may be true to some extent. From what you tell us, I can tell that you are one of those who will not allow intimidation to continue.

No one should have to plead for respect and cooperation. So do not apologize for making a case for it. WEGO for WEGO.

William Gorden