Being the Bigger Person

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about anger over a coworker’s criticism.

I have a coworker who thinks she know everything. She did some paperwork that was personnel information that needed to be changed. When she did it incorrectly, she told me that someone in our Human Resources Dept. said that she had to get the verification from me because I’m the timekeeper. When in fact, my administrator has to sign off. Then she is standing me down saying it is my fault that her paperwork is not being processed. I would like to cuss her out, but not showing her that she is winning about the situation. Please help me. How do I handle it effectively?

Signed, Not Me

Dear Not Me:

I’ve changed the wording you sent slightly to help you know what I think you mean to say. I might have not done that perfectly, but I think I know what you are trying to say. You are frustrated with your coworker. Obviously, your supervisor/manager needs to spell out who does what tasks and who must sign off on them. So request that whoever is over this coworker and you schedule a meeting to clarify this and other such matters; one that engages those of you who must work sequentially on various assignments.

There’s no need to cuss anyone out, even if your coworker strikes you as being a know-it-all. Apparently your work group doesn’t have regular staff meetings to handle such issues. Effective work groups can’t function as a team until and unless they have skull sessions that address: What has been going well and what needs clarification and or change? However justified is irritation with your coworker, fighting her can escalate to petty battles of I’m right-you’re wrong.

See such issues as you raise as opportunities to work through and reduce the uncertainty that is inevitable in organizational life. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By that I mean work is hard enough without petty battles. I predict that you can help make your coworker, your boss and your own work more effective and pleasant by seeking clarification rather than recrimination.

William Gorden