How To Complain About A Coworker’s Sarcasm

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sacarsm:

I am a teacher’s assistant and I walk on egg shells every day because the teacher is so critical talking behind everybody’s back that no-one is perfect like her, yet in public she is looked upon as a wonderful caring person wanting the best for her students

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

I’m sorry that you’re in a work situation where you feel you can’t be comfortable and enjoy work. It could be that the teacher with whom you work is, in fact, a caring teacher when it comes to students but not very caring about others. That happens often. But, perhaps if you and she both are focused on what is best for the students you will find more in common and will feel on more safe ground in your conversations with her. You probably won’t be very successful in complaining about her to those higher-up, if she is well thought of and valued for her work. That’s just a reality. But maybe you can find a way to reduce any complaints about you so you can truly help students instead of being distracted by the teacher.If her remarks are so terribly negative that you truly cannot work well around her, consider going to HR and have exact examples for them.Here are some things to consider as you look for ways to feel better about your job and the teacher to whom you’re assigned:

1. Be certain about how your performance and behavior is evaluated so you can make sure you are working at the highest levels in each of the categories. If you can find a blank form or have a copy of a performance evaluation done on you in the past, look at the categories. Whatever those categories are, write them on a card and keep them in your purse. Every few days look at the list and self-evaluate to decide if you have done something that fulfills the category. If you have, make a note to yourself as a reminder, in case you ever need to point out your accomplishments.If there is some area where the teacher has criticized you or corrected you, focus on that especially. Do your work in such a way that even someone like the teacher, who talks behind everyone’s back, won’t find much of anything to say about you, except that you work very hard. If you are really having trouble in some area, talk to the teacher about it and ask her what she thinks you need to work on the most and if she has suggestions. If she knows you’re working to improve all the time, she may value that so much she will be less critical.

2. You say you walk on eggshells, but don’t say why. If you think she could easily fire you, that is understandable. Otherwise, you may be more nervous than you need to be. Consider asking her how you’re doing and see if she has anything to say. You may want to tell her that you know she sets high standards and you want to make sure you live up to them.

3. Find other teacher’s assistants who you respect and connect with them more often the before. That will help dilute the unpleasantness you may feel from the teacher. It is probably unpleasant to listen to her talk badly about others, but at least you don’t have to participate. Others probably dislike it as well, and think less of her for doing it. By having other friends at work, you may not have to spend so much time with the teacher.

4. I often talk about what it takes to have influence: You must be credible, you must be valuable and you must communicate effectively. That is also true about how to gain a stronger relationship with a supervisor or manager–or in your case, the teacher with whom you work. Work on being highly effective and accurate, then on being someone who she needs and strongly values in several ways. At the same time, communicate with her about the students, supplies, what you’re trying to accomplish and anything else that will show you to be highly professional and focused on improvement.Best wishes as you work in the classroom to help students and also try to work more effectively with the teacher. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know if anything you try to do seems be improve things.

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.