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    • AlwaysWorking
    • By AlwaysWorking 7th Oct 16, 2:58 PM
    • 538Posts
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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 3
    • Nicki
    • By Nicki 9th Oct 16, 4:23 PM
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    Nicki
    In lots of roles, it's usual for colleagues to ask others to carry out tasks whether the colleague is junior or senior to them. Not everyone has all of their work allocated by a line manager. So in and of itself there is nothing wrong with the other woman asking OP to do various business related tasks.

    As to the rest, this could be a clash of styles or personalities. Perhaps the other woman is moody and rude. Equally, perhaps she finds the OP hard to get on with and if asked would complain that the OP doesn't initiate conversations with her, always looks miserable, keeps bursting into tears at work and bristles when asked to do things which are a normal part of their role. There really isn't way of telling, other than for OP to involve a neutral third party at work for a sense check.

    If this had happened to me before in other jobs (i.e. If I'd left a few jobs in the last few years because I didn't like my colleagues and had been in tears at work in other jobs, then I'd be starting to wonder whether it was my own work place resilience which might be an issue rather than the behaviour of colleagues and be doing some work to try to improve that.
    • New Me
    • By New Me 10th Oct 16, 9:57 AM
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    New Me
    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 ...
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    This is a great tip. I have also worked with someone who sent nasty emails, but they were fine when I replied in person
    • AlwaysWorking
    • By AlwaysWorking 10th Oct 16, 12:47 PM
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    AlwaysWorking
    Good morning everyone! Sorry I haven't responded over the weekend. I deliberately didn't let myself think about work and tried to relax and have fun...I don't want this to affect my marriage by worrying about her all the time!

    To answer some people's questions my role is a new one, so it's hard to define what is 'my' job and what isn't. But, to be honest, I'm happy taking on anything as I like to be busy. This lady would be senior to me, but my job isn't supposed to be acting as her PA...that's just how it feels.

    One of the things she has me doing is her credit control. I've done this before so it's not an issue. She has me copy her into EVERY email I send/receive in relation to this...which I can understand, but she doesn't appear to take notice of them as she emails every day with a list of names/companies she wants updates on...even when she knows she only asked me to chase them the day before.

    The point of receiving the emails seems to be so that she can critique HOW I write, which she does in a very loud voice. Where I don't have an email address, I begin by writing a letter, enclosing a statement, as some of the debts have been carried over for a few years. This morning she emailed to ask for an update on one she only asked me to chase on Thursday afternoon...I explained it had been posted second class that day and I would chase later in the week. She responded by saying I should be phoning people as 'Sending letters is costly'. The debt goes back 4 years and hasn't been chased in that time.... I did ask her for contact names, numbers etc before and she told me to google them.
    "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
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 10th Oct 16, 1:11 PM
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    gettingtheresometime
    I used to work with someone who loved to be copied on emails and yes it does demoralise you as you're made to feel about 10 - especially when you're asked about the subject and you know you've done what was asked, copied them in on an email and they haven't even bothered to read the email!


    I came to see it for what it was - a power thing.


    Can I suggest that you suggest to her than rather you copy her on every email sent and received that it would be more time efficient if you both got together at a prearranged time every week so you could give her updates on the outstanding debt?


    (it does sound as if the proverbal has hit the fan over the debt and now its being chased)


    Also how confident are you in chasing this debt up by phone initially? Then you know exactly who to email / chase up as well as building relationships and get someone to talk to? I must admit I prefer chasing debt up by phone for these very reasons but I'm sorry if I'm teaching you to suck eggs
    Lloyds OD / Natwest OD / PO CC cleared thanks to the 1 debt v 100 day challenge
    • RuthnJasper
    • By RuthnJasper 10th Oct 16, 2:38 PM
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    RuthnJasper
    I'd reply to each one politely and cc or bcc your boss in
    Originally posted by Browntoa
    I was going to suggest exactly this! Good luck to you, OP, she sounds like a nightmare - and I've worked with some really nasty specimens over the years. Just keep a record of everything in a diary (and maybe print out each email, in case the system crashes and wipes them), and she probably won't have a leg to stand on.


    In my experience, often the upper management are aware that there's a problem but are too ineffectual or intimidated by the bully themselves to do anything.


    You have absolute right to enjoy your new job; I'm so sorry it's being spoiled by this gorgon.


    Every good wish to you.
    Last edited by RuthnJasper; 10-10-2016 at 3:13 PM.
    • AlwaysWorking
    • By AlwaysWorking 10th Oct 16, 2:55 PM
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    AlwaysWorking
    Can I suggest that you suggest to her than rather you copy her on every email sent and received that it would be more time efficient if you both got together at a prearranged time every week so you could give her updates on the outstanding debt?
    Originally posted by gettingtheresometime
    She had sent me an email a while back when I first started doing this for her. I had everything ready for the meeting...still waiting for it. I think she prefers the micro-manage route.

    Last Wednesday the only time she spoke to me was to complain that I type too loudly so now I'm afraid to touch the keyboard lol! I feel like a child even though we're the same age.
    "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
    • .Gigolo Aunt
    • By .Gigolo Aunt 10th Oct 16, 3:06 PM
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    .Gigolo Aunt
    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."
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    It's a sure sign that they're not very competent if within 5 minutes of arriving, they've sent about 10 emails!
    • .Gigolo Aunt
    • By .Gigolo Aunt 10th Oct 16, 3:09 PM
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    .Gigolo Aunt
    Last Wednesday the only time she spoke to me was to complain that I type too loudly so now I'm afraid to touch the keyboard lol! I feel like a child even though we're the same age.
    Originally posted by AlwaysWorking
    Ridiculous! What on earth are you typing on, an old Woodstock?

    You've let this woman get to you, and you're going to have to work hard now, to re-gain her respect. If you don't she will continue until you are afraid to even breathe too loudly.
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 10th Oct 16, 3:49 PM
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    gettingtheresometime
    She had sent me an email a while back when I first started doing this for her. I had everything ready for the meeting...still waiting for it. I think she prefers the micro-manage route.

    Last Wednesday the only time she spoke to me was to complain that I type too loudly so now I'm afraid to touch the keyboard lol! I feel like a child even though we're the same age.
    Originally posted by AlwaysWorking


    Then it's time to show some initiative ...send her a meeting request and in the message say that you think it may be more productive to have a weekly meeting.


    Then at the time of the meeting get up and say ready for that meeting ?


    Or if she doesn't want a meeting send her, without prompting an update on each of the debts though I must admit she does sound as if she'd never be impressed with any displays of initiative (I'd also cc my line manager so at least he'd be aware of my initiative!)
    Lloyds OD / Natwest OD / PO CC cleared thanks to the 1 debt v 100 day challenge
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 11th Oct 16, 12:20 AM
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    Savvy_Sue
    Last Wednesday the only time she spoke to me was to complain that I type too loudly so now I'm afraid to touch the keyboard lol! I feel like a child even though we're the same age.
    Originally posted by AlwaysWorking
    Time to find out how you could get a new keyboard then. I'd ask your line manager because 'Sally' is complaining yours is noisy: some of them can be a bit rackety, but it does bring the pettiness to your manager's attention ...
    I'm a Board Guide on the Cutting Tax; Charities; Small Biz & Charity Organisers; and Silver Savers boards, which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. However, do remember, Board Guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts.

    Any views are mine and are not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com
    Still knitting! Current projects: 2 shawls, 2 pairs baby bootees,
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    • Out, Vile Jelly
    • By Out, Vile Jelly 11th Oct 16, 10:49 AM
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    Out, Vile Jelly
    Not the same as a work colleague, but I once had a flatmate who took a strong dislike to me and expressed this through relentless, petty sniping all day every day. I'm normally quite strong tempered and sarcastic, but to the surprise of my other flatmates I never responded to the digs. I just couldn't be bothered to waste energy on her; it was all so playground and pathetic. Being calm and disinterested was, long term, a better tactic than rising to the bait.

    This woman's pettiness (complaining about typing noise, quibbling postage, insisting on CCing etc) reminds me of that situation.

    My advice would be:

    -maintain a civil, professional demeanour at all times ie wish her a good morning regardless of response, keep emails formal and polite.
    -check your role description and objectives, and if these aren't clear then arrange a meeting to clarify; frame the request in the context of wanting to be clear about expected priorities rather than complaining about extra tasks.
    -make email work for you, rather than be enslaved by the relentless inbox onslaught. Set up clearly labelled folders for small, routine tasks and ones for messages that need to be archived for future reference. Always ensure your subject titles are succinct and informative so the message is easy to find. You don't have to reply to routine emails in your lunch break, or within 4 seconds of receipt.
    -if she criticises anything you do, ask her to confirm the correct procedure in writing and keep this.

    Being micro-managed is infuriating, but remember that this isn't a reflection of your skills; it merely means the micro-manager is useless.
    They are an EYESORES!!!!
    • SparklesJD
    • By SparklesJD 11th Oct 16, 10:02 PM
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    SparklesJD
    I used to be a HR manager, although I've been out of the sector for a while, so this isn't based on anything more than my personal views. She sounds like she is bullying you, based on the fact that you are upset by her behaviour. You do not need to explain or apologise for being upset by her behaviour and you are not in any way responsible for her behaviour, although you can choose, as many people have said, how you respond to it.

    The best tip I can give you (apologies if anyone's already suggested this, I had a quick read and didn't see it) is to keep a diary, if you're not already.

    I'm not talking 'War and Peace', just the date, time, anyone else who was there/copied in and a line about what happened i.e. 'X critised my spelling of Y. She made me feel small.'

    This is useful in a lot of ways. It can help reassure you that you're not imagining things. If you get to the stage where you have a meeting with your manager or her, you can give specific examples. It's difficult to argue that something's a one-off or that you took it the wrong way if you've got a few different incidents. The emotions bit is there because the feelings you experience at the time something happens can be difficult to articulate later.

    Longer-term, you have a choice to make. If you like the job and are willing to fight for it, you should ask for a meeting with your manager ASAP and explain, with examples, what has been happening. I suspect, strongly suspect, that they know what this woman is like and haven't dealt with her properly. I also thought 'she's applied for your job' when I read your OP, which has been suggested in other posts.

    Neither of these things should be your problem. Of course they are you problem in that you're bearing the brunt of her behaviour. I'm afraid at this point, I don't care what her 'reasons' are for that behaviour, you're the one we're worried about.

    If you aren't satisfied with their response informally, invoke the formal grievance policy. Even small companies have to have them, if they don't, assume they use the ACAS one. If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting. You could also call the ACAS helpline or get in touch with your local CAB office for legal advice.

    If you don't feel that the job is worth fighting for my own personal view is that your mental health is too precious to risk working in the situation you find yourself in, but only you can decide that. If you do leave, make sure you ask for an exit interview or get it all out in your resignation letter, if only so that you can leave knowing that you tried to make it better for the next person and have no regrets.

    They've obviously spent time, money and effort recruiting you and won't want to do it again, but I suspect that they'll find it very tough to deal with it properly. If that's the case, again, it's their problem, and their responsibility, not yours.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 12th Oct 16, 10:10 AM
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    TBagpuss
    I typed a reply last night but it look like it didn't post.

    So far as the micro managment is concenred, I would stop copying her tin to all emails and delay responding wha she chases.

    Instead, set up a system which works for you - for the credit control, this might be that you make a list and send her a single e-mail at the end of the day listing the customers / debts you have chased and any responses, or setting up a spreadsheet where you can record when and how you have chased, and then either save that somwhere she can also access it, or email her a copy once a day, or twice a week.

    If she chases you you can then refer her to the list or spreadsheet.

    If she continues to demand to see all of the emails and /or is criticising your style of writing then it might be appropriate for you to speak to your manager and let them know that you are happy to take on the credit control work, but that you feel it is very ineffcient as co-worker is spending so much time checking on you that you don't geel that you doing the work is saving her any time, and that you feel it may be more efficient for her to do it herself, if she is not able to leave you to do it.

    (for credit control work, I'd also suggest that you devise a set of standard letters rathe than starting from scratch each time, and also a set timescale to send them - my company has one which goes out when a bill is 7 days overdue, another at 14 days, one at a month and a final one giving them 7 days notice that we are issuing proceedings at court, for instnace.

    Then you only ned to slot in the specifc details of the actual customer and the invoice, and you can automiacally diary it forward to the next date. You can of course also timetable additional follow up by phone etc.
    • RuthnJasper
    • By RuthnJasper 13th Oct 16, 2:02 PM
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    RuthnJasper
    How's it going OP? Any improvements?


    Hope so. x
    • barbiedoll
    • By barbiedoll 13th Oct 16, 11:13 PM
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    barbiedoll
    I've already thanked Sparkles very helpful post but I would just like to comment on this...

    If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting.
    My friend was getting a very hard time from a manager in her job as a care assistant. She joined a union and called their helpline. Within a week, and with their help, she had requested a formal meeting with her bosses, and was accompanied by an extremely knowledgeable union rep. So it can be done!
    "I may be many things but not being indiscreet isn't one of them"
    • SparklesJD
    • By SparklesJD 14th Oct 16, 2:40 PM
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    SparklesJD
    Barbie, I was probably a bit harsh!

    I was trying to get across the message that she should consider joining sooner rather than later if she thinks she needs to. TU reps tend (but happily not always, as in your friend's case) to take a dim view of someone joining just at the point that they need the help. A bit like a break-down service charging you a lot for joining when you've already broken down.

    TU reps' training is excellent and well-worth having one on your side!
    • woolly_wombat
    • By woolly_wombat 19th Oct 16, 8:57 AM
    • 364 Posts
    • 222 Thanks
    woolly_wombat
    I used to be a HR manager, although I've been out of the sector for a while, so this isn't based on anything more than my personal views. She sounds like she is bullying you, based on the fact that you are upset by her behaviour. You do not need to explain or apologise for being upset by her behaviour and you are not in any way responsible for her behaviour, although you can choose, as many people have said, how you respond to it.

    The best tip I can give you (apologies if anyone's already suggested this, I had a quick read and didn't see it) is to keep a diary, if you're not already.

    I'm not talking 'War and Peace', just the date, time, anyone else who was there/copied in and a line about what happened i.e. 'X critised my spelling of Y. She made me feel small.'

    This is useful in a lot of ways. It can help reassure you that you're not imagining things. If you get to the stage where you have a meeting with your manager or her, you can give specific examples. It's difficult to argue that something's a one-off or that you took it the wrong way if you've got a few different incidents. The emotions bit is there because the feelings you experience at the time something happens can be difficult to articulate later.

    Longer-term, you have a choice to make. If you like the job and are willing to fight for it, you should ask for a meeting with your manager ASAP and explain, with examples, what has been happening. I suspect, strongly suspect, that they know what this woman is like and haven't dealt with her properly. I also thought 'she's applied for your job' when I read your OP, which has been suggested in other posts.

    Neither of these things should be your problem. Of course they are you problem in that you're bearing the brunt of her behaviour. I'm afraid at this point, I don't care what her 'reasons' are for that behaviour, you're the one we're worried about.

    If you aren't satisfied with their response informally, invoke the formal grievance policy. Even small companies have to have them, if they don't, assume they use the ACAS one. If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting. You could also call the ACAS helpline or get in touch with your local CAB office for legal advice.

    If you don't feel that the job is worth fighting for my own personal view is that your mental health is too precious to risk working in the situation you find yourself in, but only you can decide that. If you do leave, make sure you ask for an exit interview or get it all out in your resignation letter, if only so that you can leave knowing that you tried to make it better for the next person and have no regrets.

    They've obviously spent time, money and effort recruiting you and won't want to do it again, but I suspect that they'll find it very tough to deal with it properly. If that's the case, again, it's their problem, and their responsibility, not yours.
    Originally posted by SparklesJD
    The words of an expert (my highlights).

    OP please take heed.

    This is not a problem of your making. Her behaviour is clearly unacceptable.

    Take care and best of luck.
    • woolly_wombat
    • By woolly_wombat 19th Oct 16, 9:17 AM
    • 364 Posts
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    woolly_wombat

    One of the things she has me doing is her credit control. I've done this before so it's not an issue. She has me copy her into EVERY email I send/receive in relation to this...which I can understand, but she doesn't appear to take notice of them as she emails every day with a list of names/companies she wants updates on...even when she knows she only asked me to chase them the day before.

    The point of receiving the emails seems to be so that she can critique HOW I write, which she does in a very loud voice. Where I don't have an email address, I begin by writing a letter, enclosing a statement, as some of the debts have been carried over for a few years. This morning she emailed to ask for an update on one she only asked me to chase on Thursday afternoon...I explained it had been posted second class that day and I would chase later in the week. She responded by saying I should be phoning people as 'Sending letters is costly'. The debt goes back 4 years and hasn't been chased in that time.... I did ask her for contact names, numbers etc before and she told me to google them.
    Originally posted by AlwaysWorking
    You appear to have identified her Achilles heel.

    There is clearly a back history here and it sounds to me as if this company is lucky to have you on board.
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 19th Oct 16, 2:02 PM
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    Smodlet
    For what it's worth, I agree that this woman is probably feeling inadequate, quite possibly because she unsuccessfully applied for your job, hence she is doing everything she can to undermine you, partly to "get back" at those who "failed to realise what an asset she is to the company"... you are getting the irony, aren't you?

    Sadly, we all, it seems, have been there and done this: The world is full of her ilk and, all too often, management lack either the stones or the will to do anything about it.

    Is credit control even part of your role? I assume it is as they recruited someone with relevant experience. Were you employed because she is either ineffective at this task (four year old debt) or incapable of managing her workload effectively, I wonder?

    Good luck.
    What is this life, if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?

    Every stew starts with the first onion.

    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
    • IDProtected
    • By IDProtected 19th Oct 16, 3:20 PM
    • 216 Posts
    • 191 Thanks
    IDProtected
    There is not a job in this world that is worth being bullied for. I left a job after 7 years, the best job I've ever had or will have, because I was being bullied and my boss would not step in and put an end to it. This was in the old days when we had one printer between 6, and I was picked on because it was always my work churning out of it. I did say on more than one occasion not to pick on me but to go to the boss who actually produced this work!
    Owed @ LBM, including mtg: £85961.15, As of 1st August 2016: £14481.01
    September 2016; out of debt and have savings for the saddest reason. RIP Aunty, I'll never forget you
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