Mean Co-Worker, Mean Boss!


I have been at my job for 5 years now. One of the two ladies I work with has been cruel off and on since my 6-month mark. The other one just joins in just for the fun of it. It is very close working corridors so when they are mad at me I know it but don’t know why. When I finally confront them about their attitude they make it seem like I am crazy or just blow me off. Then they are nice to me for a week only to go back to their nasty attitudes at a snap of a finger. There tormenting took its toll on me this past year and had to go to therapy and go on meds.

I had another talk with them only for it to go back to the nastiness. I need the full time job, but I just don’t know if this will ever change. I left a university on short notice to take the job and have been red flagged. To get back in I would need to get a letter from my boss. My boss is weak when it comes to them but has a nasty short fuse. What do I do? How do I ask for a letter from a guy who has no problem being mean to me but not the other two coworkers? Is there any use in trying yet again to talk to them about how they treat me?




Dear Tormented:

Why some people are mean is a mystery, just as evil is. It may mean that you have done things your co-workers do not like. It may be that these two make themselves feel better by putting you down. After five years of difficulty with these co-workers the possibility of them changing either by honey of vinegar is not likely. So what can you do?

If I interpret what “red flagged” msn it means you are not welcome to re-enter the university. You say to do so is impossible without a letter from your boss, whom you say is also mean. Will you will leave your present job if he writes this note? Then ask him and if he does not, ask him again, and if he does still does not, ask his superior or Human Resources. Getting something like that should not be a problem, especially if he doesn’t like you and favors your mean co-workers. You say you have been off because the stress of your co-workers has taken its toll on you. What do your Human Resources say about that? Have you sought their help? Is it possible for you to get a transfer to another work situation?

How they are mean, you do not say. What seems to prompt their meanness you do not say. When you have said to them about it, you do not say. You did not spell out what they did that was mean, such as not speaking, looking the other way when you come near, or rolling their eyes heavenward. What you suggested they should and should not say to you, you do not say.

Did you ask them to call you by name, to say please and thank you when appropriate, to ask rather than order you about, to not look away when you pass by. Some people have not learned how to be courteous and to be thoughtful. It is obvious that your boss has not encouraged good manners and helpfulness to one another. Nor has he spelled out in your situation the rules of working together co-operatively. If he were a coach, his team members would not pass the ball to one another and his team would lose.

If you are to continue working in this place, you will have to get thicker skin and find your thanks from inside you by knowing that you are doing your job the best possible. Be friendly, but don’t try to change your co-workers. Tell yourself that those who behave badly hurt themselves more than you. Think of ways you can make your job fun and fun for those you work with and for.

Finding an ideal workplace is unlikely. Rather each of us must do what we can to put a little play in our work. That is difficult when we feel unloved, but even more needed in such situations. Think WEGO. That means walking in one another’s shoes, feeling their pain and hopes and dreams. Can you do that? Put your faith in straight talk, not mean talk, but firmly saying how you want to be treated. Laugh to yourself for those who are slow learners of the rules of civility.

William Gorden