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Toxic Colleague

(9 Posts)
CarpeNoctem Mon 28-Nov-16 02:11:59

Posting here as this board has the best advice for dealing with just about anyone. Mumsnetters, do you have any words of wisdom for me?

I'll try not to turn this into an essay but here goes: I work with a toxic colleague who is driving me nuts. We have to do teaching work as part of a team of four, and during those sessions she is constantly undermining me and very passive aggressive. She also talks crap about me to other colleagues; anything from how I am apparently lazy to how I deliberately "fucked her over" because the holiday dates I submitted weren't to her liking (she has nothing to do with approving vacation days and hadn't expressed a desire to take those dates for herself), and has now taken to referring to me by my last name only. We are medical and it isn't unheard of to have that military style use of last names in our field, but in this current job it's always been first names for everyone, and she referred to me by my first name until a few months ago.

My strategy so far has been to ignore it, mostly because if I start to open my mouth I probably won't be able to stop and will end up saying something nasty and personal that will get me into trouble. This has worked in my favour so far, as our boss noticed some "tension" and asked around the people we work with, and the overwhelming response was of the "CarpeNoctem is always polite and I've never heard her say anything bad about Horrible Colleague.. on the other hand, Horrible Colleague said X, Y and Z" variety.

Our boss hasn't really done much about it, I suspect because last year there was a similar issue between her and another colleague, although that got more heated. I also think he wants to keep things easy as colleague and I are only there for another 7 months and the path of least resistance is for everyone to ride it out until the end and leave.

It's getting harder and harder for me to ignore it. This weekend I've been subjected to a string of emails between the workgroup of four that get progressively more sarcastic and condescending on her part. There's nothing in them that's profane or obviously directed at me, more between the lines kinda stuff. The part that's annoyed me right now is in a reply to me answering a question from another one of the four, she has sent an email with the opening line "yeah.. no". This is stupid and petty and not really "offensive".. just sarcastic and doesn't belong in a work email. It really shouldn't bother me, but it's the straw that's about to break the camel's back. I'm out of the UK and it's Sunday night here, and I'm dreading going to work tomorrow and having to deal with yet another day of passive aggressive bitchy crap.

I am also tempted to send a snarky response.. but I know this is a stupid idea that would lose me the moral high ground. Also contemplating sending a politely worded email saying I wasn't sure how to interpret the opening line, and I'm sure she didn't mean to be rude but it came across that way. I'm sure that wouldn't do anything other than create a written record that she has upset me. The best option is probably to continue to ignore it and not reply at all, but it's really getting me down.

The other 2 people in the group of 4 are a bit scared of her and won't say anything remotely controversial. They just ignore everything, and I think they are to a degree secretly relieved that I'm the scapegoat and she hasn't directed any of this at them. So they are next to useless and won't help me.

What are my options? Talk to the boss about it? Forward him her email? Talking to her about it isn't really an option without an objective witness, as this colleague has form accusing people of bullying her or saying things that are inappropriate if they call her out on her behavior or say anything she doesn't agree with.

HolidayHunterTeam Mon 28-Nov-16 02:17:42

Talk to your boss or HR would be my advice. Say you try to ignore it for professionalism sake but it's becoming harder to do so. She sounds like hard work.

OlennasWimple Mon 28-Nov-16 02:24:54

Yeah, it's your boss's job to sort this out - 7 months is a very long time to have to put up with it...

DixieWishbone Mon 28-Nov-16 02:53:33

Continue with acting professionally and get examples of what you have had to put up with and talk to your boss. You could point out that she has done it to people before you and she'll do it to people after you. She'll be a continuing source of poor morale, low productivity, and high employee turnover for your organization until something is done to make her stop. In other words you aren't complaining because you are personally offended, you are pointing out a problem in the organization that needs to be taken care of to maximize performance.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 28-Nov-16 06:36:36

As your own boss has shown weak management throughout I would now be talking to HR and this man's boss as well.

Seven months is a long time and this woman has caused problems before now with other colleagues.

Zaspbar Mon 28-Nov-16 06:59:46

Document everything. Do not rely on colluges to back you up (most do not want to get involved yet see the issue and are thankful it's not them)
I had a similar situation but with my boss. I documented a years worth of abuse and he was removed from the company.
Document time dates, what was said etc to take to HR.
Good luck, stay strong xx

Joysmum Mon 28-Nov-16 07:01:40

No point in trying to reason with her, she knows exactly what she's doing because she's had to reason through her replies to be passive aggressive but not overstep the mark taken in issolation.

I personally favour Dixie's approach about presenting her as a problem to the organisation, rather than you personally.

knaffedoff Mon 28-Nov-16 07:26:02

You definitely need to have a conversation with your managers. I had a similar situation with a colleague a few years ago, it culminated in affecting working practices so I ended up in a mediation meeting!!! My colleague was very confrontational and we ended up having a frank and honest discussion regarding the various incidences which alone were a bit off and unkind but put together came across as bullying. I realise now that her comments were not directed solely at me and it wasn't personal, although I felt sure it was. Had we not had the discussion, I am sure I would have resigned to escape her. Good luck and if you can try to discourage contact out of hours about work, this is your family time wink

SandyY2K Mon 28-Nov-16 10:57:03

People like that really annoy me.

Speak to your manager about it and say how it's impacting on your work. Your manager could hold a facilitated discussion about it.

This could be a good case for workplace mediation. Conducted by a professionally trained mediator.

I work in HR and find that because nobody tackles or addresses that bad behaviour it carries on.

I have a colleague bordering on being like that too. You can't win with her. I just distance myself from her, but it's a pain in the rear.

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