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    • AlwaysWorking
    • By AlwaysWorking 7th Oct 16, 2:58 PM
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    AlwaysWorking
    How to deal with a bullying colleague?
    • #1
    • 7th Oct 16, 2:58 PM
    How to deal with a bullying colleague? 7th Oct 16 at 2:58 PM
    Hi everyone. I started a new job in a small company four months ago. It's a fantastic opportunity for me to get back into an area of work I've wanted to do for a while and I took quite a cut in pay to work here.

    I work in an office with a woman (everyone else is in other offices)...it's impossible to explain her behaviour properly but I think they way she treats me is verging on bullying. She can last weeks without speaking to me, completely ignoring me, apart from multiple emails every day telling me to do things (she isn't my line manager). Everything I do is wrong according to her and she has no hesitation in telling me off infront of everyone. I'm in my late 30s and usually confident and outgoing but this is really affecting me...to the point that I was crying when I went home last night and before I came into work this morning. I feel so angry at myself for not standing up to her. I find myself wondering aimlessly around shops at lunchtime just to stay out of the office because when I attempt to eat at my desk she deliberately emails me with things that need done 'urgently'.

    Because the company is small there is no HR and I don't want to complain to the boss when I'm so new....but I'm constantly on edge and can't go on like this much longer. Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing and what did you do?






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    Last edited by MSE Jessica; 18-10-2016 at 2:32 PM.
    "I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." Marilyn Monroe
Page 2
    • balletshoes
    • By balletshoes 7th Oct 16, 8:11 PM
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    balletshoes
    When does it become more than office politics though? I've never said a thing to her...too intimidated tbh. She is nasty to everyone but they're lucky enough not to have to share an office. One of my male colleagues overheard her speaking to me one day and stepped in to tell her to stop talking to me like that. I wish I could get the courage to do that myself.
    Originally posted by AlwaysWorking
    get the courage to do that yourself - you may find you only have to do it once. Because you haven't spoken up yourself, your colleague may feel that the way she is communicating with you (the constant email instructions, the "telling you off" etc) is acceptable to you.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 7th Oct 16, 9:25 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    Another possible way of dealing with emails from someone sitting opposite you is just to say "Oh, Sally, thanks for your email, I'll get right onto that / that's my job for after lunch, but next time just ask, I'm only over here. And I would find it easier if you speak to me rather than filling my inbox with multiple emails."

    I have a colleague who sometimes annoys me, and I know I annoy her too. I go out of my way to go and speak to her rather than firing off an exchange of annoyed emails ...
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    • theoretica
    • By theoretica 7th Oct 16, 10:36 PM
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    theoretica
    Is your work such that you need to have your email open all the time? If you turn it off and check new ones ony once an hour or whatever (and definitely not over lunch) might that help?
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
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    • keepcalmandstayoutofdebt
    • By keepcalmandstayoutofdebt 7th Oct 16, 11:35 PM
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    keepcalmandstayoutofdebt
    The problem with getting involved with reporting said bullier is that you cannot predict the next person replacing them wouldn't be a mountain worse sadly - I went from working with an unknown to me 'drama queen' who only got reported after her behaviour witnessed many times because it was in another's best interest to do the reporting. I ended up feeling quite sorry for the drama queen although was interesting to almost understand the character traits behind it and why this person had championed silly vulnerable me, to get the job and be under the spell but like I say their replacement didn't make things better, spookily just as drama queen predicted I'll give her that. I couldn't respect the senior member of the team who allowed this to go who would also in turn taunt me as to what they were hearing until it suited them.

    Where I am now I've done the insights personality colour test which also rather fascinating, though it's a large scale company thankfully as these issues always are worse and more unpleasant in smaller companies,1 just afraid this situation is be careful what you wish for.
    Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius
    • Threebabes
    • By Threebabes 8th Oct 16, 6:42 AM
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    Threebabes
    You have to confront it.

    I work with someone who was very controlling and bossy, put me down. We ended up having a big falling out and didn't speak to each other for weeks. We sat next to each other. Eventually I broke the ice by asking a couple of mundane questions and it blew over.

    I had to stick up for myself otherwise I think it may have continued. The supervisors were supportive but weren't great at tackling issue.

    Good luck in sorting it, its an awful situation to be in.
    • becominganobsessivesaver
    • By becominganobsessivesaver 8th Oct 16, 8:12 AM
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    becominganobsessivesaver
    I'd reply to her emails, but cc your line manager. "Happy to do this for you " but then address your line manager "I think I have the time to do this, but wanted to check with you first in case there is something more pressing you wanted to allocate?"

    Horrible situation to be in, I hope you get it sorted. She doesn't sound like the sort of person who will ever be nice to work with, but knowing you have people on side should help.
    • thorsoak
    • By thorsoak 8th Oct 16, 8:19 AM
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    thorsoak
    When presented with several tasks, all of which would be classified as urgent, I would go back to the person who allocated them and ask that person to prioritise - if from more than one person, then I would ask them to settle the priorities between them!
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 8th Oct 16, 8:35 AM
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    moneyistooshorttomention
    Definitely agree with checking back with your line manager whether to do the tasks this "equal" is trying to set you.

    I'm also astonished you are reading her emails in your lunchbreak. That is very simply dealt with - its YOUR lunchbreak and WORK emails and the two don't go in the same sentence. Stay put at your desk if you wish to - but read a book/do your knitting/etc instead of touching that work computer.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • barbiedoll
    • By barbiedoll 8th Oct 16, 9:26 AM
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    barbiedoll
    That's why I say, your problem person probably feels inadequate. You are probably much better at your job than she is.
    Originally posted by Robisere
    I'd reply to each one politely and cc or bcc your boss in
    Originally posted by Browntoa
    ^^^This (these?)

    There are a couple of things that you can do which may help you to feel that you're "fighting back"...a row of large plants between your desks so that you don't have to look at her. A particularly pungent lunch taken at your desk. A large print of you and friends/family looking happy on a day out, posted directly behind your desk so that she has to look at it all day.

    But ultimately, you're going to have to man up and tackle her. If one of your colleagues has already reprimanded her when she spoke to you, then you know that she is in the wrong. Practice in front of the mirror, telling her.."Can you not speak to me like that" (don't say "please", it isn't a request, it's a demand.)
    Taking that first step is always terrifying but you will only have to do it once.

    Then you can break her down, one step at a time.

    "I don't deal with emails during my lunch break"

    "I'm not going to do XXXX, because I am working on XXXX for the boss"

    "I'm not sure that XXXX is part of my role, I'm just going to check with boss before I take it on"

    And eventually, to turn it around completely, a nice polite email saying something like..."Just to let you know, I'll be doing XXXX from now on as it appears that you are unable to manage it during your day"

    CC your boss into every email that you reply too...he/she will soon get wind of how many pointless emails that you're receiving when they find that their inbox is clogged up with rubbish.

    And do speak to the colleague in shining armour, they may have the back story....has she always been like this? Was your predecessor her best friend? Has she been demoted? Forewarned is forearmed!

    Little steps, one each day....if you like your job, it's got to be worth having a go, surely?

    **Robsiere..I had a colleague who stabbed me in the back too. I once worked for my brother's company, in a very lowly role (I had the chance of a better position but wanted to "work my way up" and not take advantage of family connections) A colleague,who was initially very friendly (probably thinking that I had some clout in the company) had given me instructions and had written notes for me, which I had left in my desk. One of her instructions was incorrect and meant that several customers had been incorrectly charged (lower) for a service. I was hauled in the office and asked to explain myself. I said that I was told to do what I had done, and I had been given written instructions to do so. When I went to my desk to retrieve the notes, they had disappeared! Unfortunately for my colleague, I had taken a copy to study at home. I got an apology, not sure what happened to her but she hardly ever spoke to me again! ***
    "I may be many things but not being indiscreet isn't one of them"
    • LannieDuck
    • By LannieDuck 8th Oct 16, 11:20 AM
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    LannieDuck
    Just a thought, but is it possible she applied for the job you got?
    Mortgage when started: £330,995

    “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
    Arthur C. Clarke
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 8th Oct 16, 1:52 PM
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    gettingtheresometime
    Just a thought, but is it possible she applied for the job you got?
    Originally posted by LannieDuck
    This happened to me but what made it worse was the guy who'd been passed over had applied for the job previously as well.

    Unfortunately for me the rest of the team seem to have sympathy for him - needless to say that position only lasted 4 months before I moved on.

    I agree with the advice not to look at emails in lunch hour - in fact I seem to remember a time management expert saying that you should only look at emails at set times otherwise you'd never get anything done. My attitude would be us that if everything is urgent then you start to think the person is crying wolf so you could miss the really urgent emails....and if it was that urgent then she could open her mouth and ask!

    I'm not sure I would copy in the line manager to every reply - if only because as a line manager I'd start to get peed off in receiving emails that didn't necessarily concern me.

    If others have got the measure of her then I'd concentrate on building up those relationships. Is there any back ground noise eg radio or are you in complete silence? If it's the later then I'd be tempted to ask the boss if it was ok, as the woman likes to work in silence, if you could listen to your iPod or what ever just using one earphone - this might make the day more bearable
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    • Sacredcat
    • By Sacredcat 8th Oct 16, 5:50 PM
    • 64 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    Sacredcat
    Sorry for you in this situation.

    Bullying is very common. There are some nasty petty people out there.

    Is there something about you that attracts bullies? Not saying you did anything wrong, but, Are you in a group that is a target for workplace discrimination, e.g. Foreign, Black, pregnant, disabled? - you may get help from an Equalities organisation. Or your Union.
    If you passed probation and have sick leave and are not on zero hours, then get your GP to sign you off with some sick leave and think about what to do next.
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 8th Oct 16, 6:32 PM
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    moneyistooshorttomention
    Sorry for you in this situation.

    Bullying is very common. There are some nasty petty people out there.

    Is there something about you that attracts bullies? Not saying you did anything wrong, but, Are you in a group that is a target for workplace discrimination, e.g. Foreign, Black, pregnant, disabled? - you may get help from an Equalities organisation. Or your Union.
    If you passed probation and have sick leave and are not on zero hours, then get your GP to sign you off with some sick leave and think about what to do next.
    Originally posted by Sacredcat
    Actually OP being signed off on sick leave might be just what the bully wants - and I would be anticipating lots of "talking behind back" whilst on said sick leave. Main gist of it being to effect of maybe the employer should re-consider about OP if they are going to have much sick leave.

    So it might end up backfiring on OP if she does that.

    There isn't necessarily an obvious reason for bullying - it's more likely than not down to OP having something the bully is jealous of, eg better-educated, better-looking, better off financially - it could be any reason.

    It could even be down to something as illogical as them deciding OP reminds them of someone they don't like - and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about something like that.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • krlyr
    • By krlyr 8th Oct 16, 7:00 PM
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    krlyr
    I agree with speaking to your line manager - just play dumb and ask that, because you're new, can they clarify if you should be reporting to/being given work by X.

    I had similar when I started with some lazy colleagues asking me to produce work they were capable (and should have been doing) themselves, so I would ask my manager (or in his absence) if I should be doing them and if so, what priority they should be in comparison to my workload set by him. Most of the time it was batted right back at the colleague who should have been doing it themselves - most got the hint, the persistant few then got a few words from my manager!
    • Sacredcat
    • By Sacredcat 8th Oct 16, 7:05 PM
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    Sacredcat
    Yes it's hard to know what is going on.
    Just trying to ID if there is a reason that OP can figure out.
    I worked somewhere where there was a serial bully. She always had someone targeted for bulling. She was always shouting at a lot of people, men, wome, hoever. But she would select one person for a sustained campaign of bullying.
    She was known to unions because of previous complaints, but she always got away with it. People ended up leaving.
    • dirty_magic
    • By dirty_magic 9th Oct 16, 8:56 AM
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    dirty_magic
    I don't think you should copy your manager in on all of your replies to her, I think they would get annoyed with it pretty quickly and it makes it look like you can't handle her yourself.

    By all means speak to your manager and explain the problems you're having, but I don't think copying them in on emails is necessary.
    • Andrew Ryan 89
    • By Andrew Ryan 89 9th Oct 16, 9:33 AM
    • 411 Posts
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    Andrew Ryan 89
    I hated reading this, especially the crying bit. Even if you could ignore her, there's always something in the back of your mind questioning why she has to be such a batch.

    It's probably worth pulling her to the side and be quite stern, but not anything to give her an excuse to say you were inappropriate, and let her know you don't appreciate her tone.
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 9th Oct 16, 9:45 AM
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    gettingtheresometime
    The other thing to consider is if she's like this with everyone then it's not personal ( even if it feels like it!) but why have the employer let her get away with inappropriate behaviour for so long?

    I used to work with a woman who for a long time thought was rude and abrupt but realised after a while that it was her 'way' and actually she was a nice person when you got to know her. I'm not saying for one minute you're to blame but could it be that she's got a similar personality?
    Last edited by gettingtheresometime; 09-10-2016 at 9:49 AM.
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    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 9th Oct 16, 10:55 AM
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    Pollycat
    I hated reading this, especially the crying bit. Even if you could ignore her, there's always something in the back of your mind questioning why she has to be such a batch.

    It's probably worth pulling her to the side and be quite stern, but not anything to give her an excuse to say you were inappropriate, and let her know you don't appreciate her tone.
    Originally posted by Andrew Ryan 89
    I don't agree with this approach.

    Even if the OP doesn't give her any excuse, this colleague may still claim that the OP was inappropriate and if it comes down to a 'she said, she said' scenario the OP may come off worst.

    After all, it seems she can tell the OP off within everyone's hearing but very little is being done about it.
    • eamon
    • By eamon 9th Oct 16, 2:21 PM
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    eamon
    I wouldn't bother with email ping pong. Instead go and chat to your line manager and get their take on it. Once you have their feedback you can then have a good think about your relationship with your work colleague.
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