Co-worker Is A Two-Year-Old Problem!

Question:

I have had trouble with a coworker for two years. Petty, little, passive, and aggressive things to annoy me. Recently she was caught stealing my mail out of my mail slot at work. This had been going on for 6 weeks until she was caught. My employers keep focusing on the reasons we don’t get along. I have tried to keep this civil for the two years but I feel this is more serious now that this has happened. What are my rights and how do I deal with this? My employers did have a conversation with her but the minute she left their meeting she bad-mouthed me to my coworkers saying I falsely accused her. By the way I wasn’t the one that caught her stealing. I also get mail that is stamped but can’t prove that I had gotten any during that period.

Signed,

Mad At Co-worker


Answer:

Dear Mad At Co-worker:

It sounds like this co-worker might be jealous or envious. Are you somewhat senior to her? Have you been there longer? Do other people notice her passive/aggressive behaviors too? If so, she would be known around the office that way. I always wonder why managers are so oblivious to these things. As for stealing the mail, that’s pretty serious. I wonder if she is doing that to snoop into your business or to try to get to you. It’s hard to know for sure, but it is serious. Was she written up for that? Too often companies are loose with their management style and they don’t document problem behaviors or set specific guidelines for change and accountability, such change this in 30 to 60 days. In this case, they should be doing just that. They should tell her to stop immediately. Has she tried since they met with her? How has this employee been otherwise? Is she generally productive and professional? Is she that way with other employees too? Have you considered asking her for lunch to discuss these issues? Sometimes people are doing things unconsciously. Maybe you can ask her out and say something like, “I have some concerns about our relationship at work and I’m wondering if we can resolve the situation.” If she’s doing it all on purpose, she might deny it. You could say, “The other day, you did (

) and outline a specific behavior. Then let her know how it affected you and ask her for how you want things to be done differently. Ask her why she is doing it and see how she reacts. It might help to let her know that you’re onto her if she doesn’t already know.

As for the mail, I would ask that it be placed in another area for you or that the person sorting the mail just hold it for you. An empty slot will offer the co-worker no “payoff” for her snooping and stealing. See how things go. Maybe several conversations and keeping the mail away will make a difference. The managers should also be involved and kept up to date. An effective manager wouldn’t tolerate behavior like this for very long. See if a pattern continues and keep them informed. Let us know how thing go for you. WEGO is communicating our needs and looking for creative solutions.

Steve Carney