Critical coworker / microaggressions

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JollyJazz

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Critical coworker / microaggressions
« on: November 03, 2020, 06:00:16 AM »
Hi all,

Well, I've really enjoyed my new job. I knew it had to happen because there are mean people at every workplace though...
So I really enjoy my job, but I've noticed that one of my coworkers is a bit odd. Sometimes she comes up and interrupts and asks me to do things, or seems snippy if I say 'no', I was on the phone and had to politely signal that I couldn't talk and she angrily stomped off. There's been a bunch of odd little microaggressions like that, and I basically feel uncomfortable around her. Sometimes it's odd things like going up and starting at my computer screen. Also I feel like sometimes she is fishing for information about me, my instinct tells me not to tell her too much. It's also hard because we are in the same team. I have a good reputation with other people that I work with, and I work hard. My intuition just feels like she's trying to find fault with me, and I wouldn't be surprised if she said negative things about me to my boss. I'm kind of concerned that maybe this is the start of some bullying.

Basically I want to nip it in the bud. I'm basically kind and friendly to everyone I work with at first. I think I'm going to stay reserved and not reveal too much. Also not reveal being upset. I should probably document. I also want to keep a bit of distance and set a few boundaries. I basically want to act in a way that puts her off whatever kick she gets from being rude to me. Ugh.

If anyone has been through something similar I'd love to hear your stories 😊

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Boat Babe

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2020, 06:46:25 AM »
Bullying at work is a nightmare, not least because it threatens your livelihood.

Every thing you say is useful. Give her NOTHING, start recording all instances of micro aggressions and maybe have a word with HR just to cover your back.

Good luck.
It gets better. It has to.

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clara

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2020, 01:29:14 PM »
Definitely stick with your ideas about dealing with her, because this is Button Pushing 101.  She's trying to get a reaction out of you so she can achieve a "gotcha" and then possibly go running to the boss over your bad behavior.  Why people do this I don't really know, but it seems they enjoy it, enjoy the sense of power and control it gives them even if they only get that power and control by stirring the pot.

If you have a good reputation, and if your co-workers respect you, her behavior won't change that.  Others will see her for what she is even if they don't comment on it (and if you're the person observing the behavior but not the recipient, it's generally best to keep it to yourself as to not look like you're contributing to the pot-stirring).   

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2020, 03:46:33 PM »
Hi Boat Babe and Clara,
Thanks for your thoughts.
Yup, I'll start with the documenting. The good thing is, I think some other people are starting to notice.

At first I started to wonder if she was just a bit odd, she is, but she's also just a bit plain rude and critical of others.

My big question is when to raise it with others. Do I do it now and get in early, I'm worried I may escalate things by complaining, or do I hope it may blow over? It's a hard call to make.

I'm definitely going to try and 'grey rock', share as little as possible as much as I can 😊 Also - the next time she is rude I'm wondering if I should just ask if she's okay

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Boat Babe

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2020, 05:29:11 PM »
Hiya again. Thinking about your question about if and when you talk to someone in the organisation about what's going on.  Two things occur to me.

HR would probably prefer to know about something like this sooner than later. If you make so appointment and you have prepared what you're going to say and you are calm then I can't see a problem. Just focus on the specifics of her behaviour and the effect that it's having on you. DON'T say she's a covert narc !!!!!  I'm aware that doing this is a challenge on many levels. Maybe rehearse with a friend who gets it.

And the second thing is to be your own champion! You wouldn't hesitate twice to help someone in a similar situation. Give yourself that energy and motivation to protect yourself. Be guided by your gut and by a clear mind. You are a good person and no-one is gonna fuck with you!
It gets better. It has to.

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Boat Babe

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2020, 05:33:01 PM »
Oh and a good tactics is, when they say something off, make like you didn't hear it and ask them to repeat it. Often, they won't. If they do, ask them calmly and with a half smile why they said that.

I read that somewhere.
It gets better. It has to.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2020, 07:22:06 PM »
Hi Boatbabe,

Thanks!!! Those are great tips!

I think I know just who to mention it to 😊 I will document it but keep it low key - focusing on behaviours.

I will also try the asking them to repeat what they said too 😊

Luckily this person doesn't work full time.

I like avoiding this person but I also feel like this person is quite focused on what I do (shudder).

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2020, 08:45:14 AM »
Hi Boatbabe,

This is great!
Quote
a good tactics is, when they say something off, make like you didn't hear it and ask them to repeat it. Often, they won't. If they do, ask them calmly and with a half smile why they said that.

I love it!

I've started the documentation. It's also great because it also clarifies my thoughts on it. As it turned out I got a ton of kindness and positivity from my other co-workers today and it gives me strength. I'm not asking much from this person, just basic decency and courtesy.

I really like that response babe babe. I hope all is going well with you 🙂

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2020, 07:56:28 PM »
From what you've written here, I don't think there is anything to actually complain to someone about yet (HR, etc). I think that would make this into more of a problem at this point, and would bring unwanted negative attention to you by your boss and HR.

I like the idea of documenting the incidents, though. That is always a good tool.

I personally would decide to maintain a very neutral/generically friendly attitude around this person. Think of a super confident person, who doesn't have the time of day to even notice these silly little behaviors... pretend to be that person.  The key is to give the impression that you are entirely unflappable.

I think a person like your co-worker will eventually drift away once they realize you do not respond at all.  Also key- work to build your positive connections with other co-workers. This is invaluable in an office setting.  If it ever escalates further up the chain, the fact that you get along great with everyone else will go a long way.

This made me think of an incident years ago I dealt with.

There was a co-worker who was technically subordinate to me, although I was not her boss. My title and position was higher than hers, and it was her job to complete certain tasks that I asked her to do. I was always friendly and polite, even though she was often grumpy, grouchy and irritable.

One day I asked her to do a task and she completely snapped at me - as in raising her voice, losing her temper.  I was so shocked I just walked out.  There was a lot of chaos and stress at my office at that time. This is probably not the most professional approach, but from that moment on I just iced her out completely. I did not interact with her at all, I did not look at her or acknowledge her.  I found ways to get tasks done without involving her.

Several weeks went by, maybe even a month. And then one day she came into my office and she apologized to me in a genuine way. I happily accepted the apology and we went on to have a great working relationship.  Looking back, I'm amazed that it played out that way, but it seems like my approach worked. It gave her time to get herself together and be willing to apologize, and me the space to not deal with her. I think if I had reported her to HR, I doubt she would have wanted to genuinely apologize under those conditions. And I think things would have been icy between us from there on out (on her end, due to being resentful I reported her to HR, and maybe fearing losing her job, etc).

Of course sometimes it is necessary to involve bosses, or HR....

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2020, 10:36:58 PM »
Hi Jennifer,

Yes I'm very friendly with everyone I can be at the office, and I'm building rapport with my workmates. I do think having that 'social capital' is a real buffer.

I try and minimise my contact with this problem person, but when I do I just kind of 'grey rock', I share absolutely minimal information about myself and I'm just courteous until I can get away. It's actually been working well lately. She doesn't work all the time and I've got ways of keeping distance so that's good.

I've got my notebook and have kept notes. It's also good for me, as I know I'm not imagining things. I haven't reported it, as I don't want to escalate things unnecessarily.

If she does start becoming more aggressive then I've got my notes. But I am pleased to be able to just keep out of the way.

Thanks for sharing your experience with your coworker.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2020, 05:44:45 AM »
P.S. Jennifer - more microaggressions (or aggressions!) than I've written down here have happened, luckily I don't have to deal with her too often. She's definitely also a bit plain odd.
P.P.S - this person came and badgered me at my desk again today. I did grey rock, shut my computer monitor immediately when she came up and started peering at it (there's never anything exciting on it - but it felt good to do that), just gave vague, short non-committal answers to intrusive questions. She made some kind of stirring comments, but I aimed to just not really say anything. I hope I didn't give much away. Grey rock can be hard!
My natural default is being friendly and open, it's hard not to swing to that naturally.
I just get a spidey sense about her. I'm glad I have that. I'm just worried that she's been bagging me to my boss. Just gonna keep up with the keeping my distance from her!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 05:50:42 AM by JollyJazz »

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2020, 07:14:33 PM »
It sounds like you have a good handle on the situation!!  I think its very empowering when we can find creative ways of dealing with annoying people like this.  Hopefully your co-worker will soon realize that you are not a person to bother with and they will move on to someone else.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2020, 09:00:38 PM »
Thanks Jennifer!!! ☺️
Yes, I'll keep up the grey rock!
It really helps that she doesn't work full time and I can avoid her sometimes.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Critical coworker / microaggressions
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2020, 08:58:56 PM »
Update: she ALWAYS fishes for information!!! But I generally dodge it! 😊