Bossy Coworker Annoys Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors  about a bossy coworker:

How do I deal with a bossy new coworker who is new to the industry and has no experience and only two weeks on the job? She’s bossy and bosses around coworkers who have been here for years. She acts like she is the Narrator to everyone’s life and everything that they do… she is completely annoying!

Signed–Completely Annoyed

Dear Completely Annoyed:

Because no workplace doctor cannot walk in the shoes or sit at a desk next to one who is driven crazy or annoyed by a bossy coworker enough to submit a question to someone outside her/his workplace, my diagnosis and prescription is made without first-hand knowledge from afar.

Diagnosis. Apparently in your work area, coworkers depend on each other’s communication and action. You see what is done or not done and/or are told what to do or not do by someone, and/or you intuitively know what to do or not because of experience or knowledge and acquired problem-solving ability. Yet after only two weeks on the job, Ms. Jan Big is in command. Also J.B. has taken snapshots of each of you and created stories that explain your lives. Likely she expects you all to appreciate and comply with her orders. You don’t like it or her.

So how have you reacted to her other than gossip and smolder within? Might the Workplace Doctors diagnose and prescribe? That is problematic due to not seeing specific instances of how her commands were given and received, but because of similar cases, I will try, and you can tell us if it works.

Generally the newly employed bite their tongues rather than criticize or say something should be done differently. Gradually they make a friend or two, fit in, or are pushed to the edge of the workgroup. No so for Jan Big. From this distance, I predict that your supervisor sees her as smart and as a quick-learnt. And although you don’t say so, I expect you also would admit that J.B. knows a thing or two because she has see a thing or two somewhere.

Your annoyance symptom probably stems from not only J.B.’s bossing but from the fact that your supervisor has seen this new employee as competent and has ignored/allowed her to dictate. Your supervisor might even assign her work that others of you have done for years.

My prescription, therefore, entails individual, group, and supervisor medicine:

  1. Take a pill of Independent-Mindedness. This pill will give each of you guts and grit to say, “J.B. back off. Who assigned you to give orders? We worked cooperatively before you came. So stop bossing. When we need something from coworkers we ask; we don’t give orders. If you know how to do something more efficiently and effectively, ask for time out and we will consider it. Until then back off. You are not our boss. Understand?”

Guts and grit are available for the taking because you are completely annoyed. You reason, “I don’t and we don’t have to put up with J.B’s bullying.” Even a fraction of the guts of Tammy Duckworth is enough for you to determine to speak up clearly and firmly. A few weeks ago, Senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost her legs in 2004 while serving in Iraq as an Army helicopter pilot, in response to President Trump’s saying those were treasonous who did not clap for him during his State of the Union address, made her voice heard,  “We don’t live in a dictatorship or monarchy. I swore an oath — in the military and in the Senate — to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”  She’s also  in April is expecting to to be  the first woman in the Senate to give birth.

Another woman with a similar name,  Angela Duckworth is a MacArthur “genius” grant winner, researcher, who created the Grit Test. It’s a short on-line test you can take to measure your courage and persistence to do what you want to do that will take courage.

With fellow scholar Dominic Infante, our a study of independent-mindedness revealed that employees who would speak up and argue about how things should be done were seen as good employees. The pill of Independent-Mindedness is something you should take. It will help you cope with bossy Jan Big.

  1. To counteract possible side effects of the Independent-Mindedness pill, I recommend the probiotic drink Interdependent-Mindedness. Taking this probiotic should motivate you to engage your supervisor to counsel J.B. and to made her understand bossing is off limits. This probiotic of Interdependent-Mindedness prompts straight talk. More importantly this drink when taken by some coworkers will engage them in team communication. It includes a lot of pronouns (we, our, us,) and action verbs that add value to your work area (such as cut wasted supplies, cut wasted energy, cut wasted time, cut wasted money).
  2. The Interdependent-Mindedness drink sometimes is taken in a huddle when things go wrong. But is best taken in longer skull sessions to review how you have been or not been communicating as a team. That means who said what when that made things go well and/or failed when someone did not speak up when they did go not well. And then it prompts spelling out who does what, who gives orders, and approves of what’s been done. Skull sessions should also focus on working together more efficiently and harmoniously. Interdependent-Mindedness drink is good for more than a quick huddle and prompts please and thanks you and cheerleading.
  1. My last medicine prescribed is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. This medicine will shift your anguish over J.B. to an appreciation of the little blessings that transpire each day and an appreciation that most of your coworkers work harmoniously. A large body of research has shown that workplace gratitude can make a difference to individual and interpersonal behavior.

Five Ways to Cultivate Gratitude at Work | Greater Good …

The Psychological Effects of Workplace Appreciation …

Does any of this make sense? Ideally, I or perhaps my associate Tina Lewis Rowe, who is out of her office in a month of training, would walk you this diagnosis and these prescriptions for coping with coworker frustration.

Our distance response can be augmented by you scanning several of our Q/As, such as:

My Friend Became An Irritating Coworker. Now What?  or How To Deal With An Overbearing Colleague Who Pulls Rank In An Inter-Office Team Project? Both of these are by Tina Lewis Rowe.

Might this prescription spur you to cope more constructively with Jan Big–to take the guts and grit pill of Independent-Mindedness, to counter its side effects with the Interdependent-Mindedness probiotic drink, and to overlay that medicine with an attitude of gratitude? I predict you will take action so as to no longer allow her to sour your workday. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden

Follow UP: I don’t acknowledge her and her negative behavior, Which she took notice to but I did go out of my way to acknowledge and bring out the best in the positive aspects that she does have and do, and in the positive attributes of her personality. She no longer does those negative behaviors with me.

I’ll pass on your sound advice. I hope you share with others some specific examples of how you acknowledged “the best in the positive aspects that she does have and do, and in the positive attributes of her personality.” That way you become a teacher/counselor to others who might encounter similar bossy coworkers.