Coworker Makes Me Look Bad While She Looks Good

Question:

I worked in a team of two and had been working happily with the other girl until one day when we were told there will be only one position available between us.

She started indirectly putting me down and indirectly showing others that she’s doing a better job than me. For example, she said to someone that the he was more experienced than us. He was more experienced than her but not me. When she doesn’t understand something she says we both don’t understand.

She even confronted me a few times and said that she was not happy with me, in front of others. When I was about to ask for clarification, she would say she didn’t want to talk about it to avoid further conflict.

She confronted me again today, saying I wasn’t helpful, but again she said she didn’t want to talk further about it. I waited till no one was around so that she’s feeling comfortable to open up a bit more because I was still trying to figure out what was happening and why she was so upset.

It turned out it was over a small misunderstanding and she later realized she was wrong an apologized.

She doesn’t dare to confront others because others are either the boss or boss’s son or the one who is going to interview us for our current job. She always pretends to be nice in front of others. But, when the boss leaves work, she’ll always chat on the phone or surf the Internet.

I am starting to worry about how the boss sees me since she’s been “nice” and “perfect” in front of everyone.

My boss doesn’t care about handling all these small issues, but only cares about performance. However, there have been times when my boss would say we should interact with each other better, right after she has confronted me about something.

This makes me frustrated and upset because I have been always tried to get along with her. Plus, I have seldom asked for help from her because I know she couldn’t help me as she doesn’t have my qualifications or experience.

How do you think I am viewed by my boss and teammates, considering how this coworker is setting me up to look worse than her?

Signed,

Worried


Answer:

Dear Worried:

If I read this correctly, one of the two of you will be eliminated soon. It seems that your coworker wants to make sure SHE is kept and you are let go. That’s a human reaction, but sad in this case.

You ask how you are viewed by others, and of course we cannot know that. You could find out by asking them. But you also could get a good idea by noticing how they interact with you.

Do they smile when it’s appropriate? Do they ask you for assistance or advice, if they know you have knowledge they can use? Do they seem to avoid you or do they include you in conversations when you are standing nearby? When you greet them in a friendly way, do they respond in the same way? Those are questions for you to answer on your own, but they can help you decide if you are seeing anger or irritation directed toward you or if you are seeing friendliness and respect.

If you are acting appropriately with your coworkers and boss and they do not witness you being rude or unhelpful, they aren’t very likely to believe your coworker.

And, if they hear you offering to help, being courteous even if you can’t feel very friendly, and generally being as problem-free as possible, they will have even more reasons to think of you as a good worker.

I hope the decision about employees is made very soon. This is an unfair situation for both of you! However, while you are waiting, consider doing this to help yourself:

Get a copy of the job description for your job. If there isn’t one, write a list of the tasks of the job and how they must be done to be excellent. What knowledge must be shown? What skills must be demonstrated? What attitude is needed?

Then, ensure that your boss and others sees evidence of your good work on a daily basis, without making it seem you are trying to cut out your coworker. Just quietly do great work. You said your boss is interested in performance–perform high quantity and high quality work. You said he isn’t interested in personal issues–don’t talk to him about them.

Think about this: If he wants performance not personal issues, and if your coworker is complaining about personal issues but you are not, who is he likely to feel more positive about? If you are doing work well, not causing problems and getting along well with the other members of the team, that may be a deciding factor in your favor.

Best wishes as you deal with this frustrating situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.