Older Co-worker Is Angry At Me!

Question:

I work with a lady that has a lot of anger towards me because she does not want to do new things. She’s an older lady. So the boss will ask me to do the work. This makes her very angry. So she nit picks at little things. For instance, this week she was angry because she claimed that our printer used to print in color till I started to place the orders. It only prints in black. It’s so many little thing, like how I write out the name on the Bank deposit slips. My boss is a friend of hers, and she doesn’t seem to like it that the boss gives me the work that she doesn’t want to do. So I am learning a lot more, and now she belittles me and is angry. How can I help her to get rid of this anger so we can work together in peace?

Signed,

Want Peace


Answer:

Dear Want Peace:

It may not be possible to prevent your co-worker from her anger and nit picking, but it is worth a try. What have you done to resolve this frustrating and unproductive working relationship? Have you complied with her wishes? Have to told her how you dislike her nit picking and criticism? What is the history of your working together? Is past time to find a way to communicate and work together without rancor and disapproval?

How might you approach this matter? Apparently, your boss has not been clear about who should do what. From what you say, he probably assigns whatever jobs he wishes to which ever of you he pleases. You say that your angry coworker is unhappy that he gives certain jobs to you rather than to her. Therefore, this will be a bone of contention between you until you two come to a clear understanding about who should do what. But before you can talk to her about this, it would be smart for you to prepare for such a confrontation.

Start by making a list the unhappy times, places, and actual words or actions that your co-worker and you exchanged and anyone who might have observed them. Next pretend that you are a communication rule maker. Jot down the rules of how you and she should not communicate and behave. Follow that with a list of the dos that would make your work together productive and pleasant. Once this preparation is complete, you need to request that a private meeting with her.

You will need to be assertive and insist that she meet with you find a way to work together without anger and criticism. If she will not meet, your alternative will be to tell her that if she will not meet to find a way to work together, you will have to go to your boss and spell out the problems you and she are having. If you meet with your boss, this is the time to present the log of conflicts and the rules you have prepared that you think could help you two work cooperatively. Likely he will then call a meeting with you two.

How does this approach sound to you? Does it make sense? If not, make out a plan that you think will work, or simply decide that nothing can be done and you must learn to swallow the hurt you feel. Then find activities outside your work to make your life interesting and satisfying until you can seek work elsewhere.

A great slot machine in the sky does not assign us to work in unpleasant situations forever. We each have the responsibility to do what we can to correct what is wrong where we work and to do our best to build working relationships that are good for our employer and for ourselves. That is an ongoing process we call WEGO.

Will you tell us what you decide to do and what works and what does not? Think of it as a learning experiment. Remember that Edison’s invention of the light bulb was not done in a day. It took hundreds of experiments. Seeing the light as we see it today took persistence and patience.

William Gorden