Hostile Coworker

Question:

I have been working with a company for 7 months now, and a new persona has been added to our staff. This person has decided that I am to bear the burden of her anger and hostility. I am a hard worker, with a positive attitude about work and life in general. She on the other hand is negative, short tempered and seems angry at the world and seems to hate anyone that is happy about life. Here recently I was called into my boss’ office to be confronted with the fact that she does not like working with me because I am “too giddy and happy, and it is too hard to deal with.” I told my boss I would be more than willing to do what it takes to work out the personality issues, but that I am a generally happy person and that will not change. I just refuse to come to work and scuff my feet and grind my teeth about how bad life “sucks”. Now since a month has passed since the meeting she is better, does not t ell me the pertinent information I need for my job and she is failing to complete her work. I have gone to my boss about the incomplete work since it directly affects the outcome of my work. To no avail, he just tells me that we need to get along. What do I do next? I can’t quit. This is the sole income of the family. Help me please.

Signed,

Happy in Texas


Answer:

DearĀ Happy in Texas:

You said that you could handle the difference in personality? What did you do? I would be interested. Did you quietly modify you “giddiness” and become more cooperative rather than be “too hard to deal with”? Or did you confront her and learn specifically what she meant by “too hard to deal with”? I gather from the absence of a discussion about any eye-to-eye confrontation that you and this negative coworker have not hammered out an understanding about the interdependence of your tasks, or if you did it was not systematic.

Can you and she spell out what is needed when and by each of you of the other? Yes, actually spell them out in a list. And can you also talk about how you can make each other’s work easier? Have you ever spoken to her about her ideas that might make her work more efficient and effective and what you might do or not do? It seems from here that you might need to have a regular weekly huddle about what we need to do this week. If she complained that you were “hard to deal with”, there must be some don’ts that trouble her. Possibly, if she balks at a “time out” confrontation, you can enlist your boss to chair such a meeting.

His previous comment that added up to “get over it” indicates that he has the feeling two adults can and must learn to work cooperatively. You might dislike her negative attitude and you will not invite her to your home. You can complain about her and she about you to daddy, but daddy says, “Get over it.” One way to do that is to schedule a meeting to discuss the dos and don’ts of your communication and actions. Then if you must, involve your boss as a facilitator.

Continue your happy spirit. Incidentally, I worked in San Marcos for five years, so I know there are some folks like you there. Think interdependence. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. That kind of thinking shapes and seeps into the air we breath.

William Gorden