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AIBU to think I'm being treated badly?

(71 Posts)
ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:07:31

After 18 months of searching, lots of hard work and plenty of rejections, I finally got a job early this year and I've been working for a month now.
Since the firm is well reputed and the job looked really interesting, I was so excited about starting work.

While I do find the work involved very interesting and the culture of the office is also quite good, I dread going to work because one of my colleagues treats me horribly. sad

I am completely new to this sort of work and I am being trained by her. I consider myself willing to learn and while I may not be a genius, I don't think I am stupid or a slow leaner. Despite this, I find myself constantly being humiliated and insulted by her. She is rude and patronising and she tries to control everything I do.

She speaks to me like I am a child and she is my teacher. She also tries to pull me into arguments when she knows our manager is around. For example, we often have arguments over what's been taught and what hasn't. I am often explained some things in a hurry and so I obviously don't follow or retain everything. But she'll quiz me on it the next day during some random task that's assigned to me and then after she's made me feel extremely small and stupid for not remembering it all, she'll deny having taught it in a hurry and insist that I have forgotten or that I "should have noted it down somewhere". If there are other colleagues around, she'll try to embarrass me by asking me to explain aloud what she told me yesterday or by "quizzing" me on something.

Her method of teaching is also quite odd and inefficient. Instead of explaining things straight off she will open up documents and ask me to tell her what I understand. Obviously I'm at a loss when she does that because I've never seen those systems or documents before.

It's really hard to explain her attitude in words, but I suppose the best I can say is that her tone is very abrasive and her manner is deliberately condescending.

Given that it's my first full time job and that I am completely new to this line of work, it's obvious that I have to learn from scratch. There will be times when I have to ask questions and sometimes I'll forget and ask the same question twice. I don't understand why this means that I have to be humiliated and intimidated and treated like a wayward child by somebody who is my age and is not even my supervisor or my manager.

I don't know what to do. The other day i couldn't take it any more and I just argued back. As luck would have it, this was overheard by a supervisor who told us off.

I am terrified that she will ruin my chances of retaining the job I've worked so very hard to get.

I have no idea how to work around office politics and I don't want to come off as the new girl who complains. If I say something about her, nothing is stopping her from making things up about me and since she's been around longer I have to assume that she will be believed and I won't.

Any advice on what I should do about this?

ParsleyTheLioness Fri 14-Mar-14 20:11:18

How is your relationship with your line manager? I'm wondering if you feel you could have an unofficial discussion about this. This sounds intolerable, and would be better than you blowing up at some point under extreme provocation.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:12:52

If I had to evaluate myself or go by the feedback that other colleagues have given me, I would say that I've picked things up quickly and I'm already handling some tasks and client queries independently.

AFishCalledBarry Fri 14-Mar-14 20:13:10

Is she your line manager? If not, then go and talk to your line manager asap with examples of her behaviour. With a bit of luck you won't be the first person this has happened to.

If she is your line manager then you'll have to go one step higher. You need to tell someone in a more senior position what's going on.

Are you on a probationary period?

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:15:47

My manager is nice, but I don't know if I should complain outright about this to her. She has hinted that she is aware of how my colleague can be but she has also reprimanded me ( don't know why because none of these encounters were ever really my fault.)

I'm also too new to feel comfortable taking anyone into confidence at this point.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:16:21

Yes I am on a probationary period. Which is why I am even more hesitant.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:18:25

I have no complaints so far about my manager's attitude towards me. She is not rude or mean at all. I just feel like she might be hearing some negative feedback about me that isn't true.

hiddenhome Fri 14-Mar-14 20:19:26

Could you jot pertinent things down in a notebook for reference later?

When she's explained something to you, ask her to wait until you've repeated it back in order to let her know that you've understood, then make a note of it. Let her see you writing it down.

Are you an assertive sort of person, because she shouldn't be talking down to you and you have every right to pull her on it? - you can be polite, of course, but let her know that you won't be pushed around. If she's not your manager or your superior then you don't have to put up with her attitude. Perhaps if you do bite back, she'll back off.

I bet she's really unpopular with everybody and they all secretly hate her guts because they'll have been through similar when they first started.

If things don't improve, then talk to your manager. Don't put up with her spoiling an otherwise pleasant job.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:25:53

I am a fairly assertive person but I've been curbing myself because I am very hesitant to ruin my chances at the firm.

There have been occasions where I have had to answer back and when I've just been rude to her the way she is to me. It doesn't seem to have helped. She just continues to be the way she is.

Another colleague has told me that she doesn't like this girl either and that her attitude is awful, but this colleague is also really junior and can't do anything.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:27:56

"When she's explained something to you, ask her to wait until you've repeated it back in order to let her know that you've understood, then make a note of it. Let her see you writing it down."

I do!!

She still picks up on some obscure thing that she knows I haven't written down and questions me on that.

Do you suppose I should take her aside and confront her directly?

hiddenhome Fri 14-Mar-14 20:32:25

Perhaps you should confront her, yes.

She sounds like a right tit.

We had similar recently with a new care assistant who started at our nursing home. One of the other care assistants was overbearing towards her, talked down to her, was bossy and unpleasant. The new carer thought that this other carer was her manager! We put her right and told her to stand up to her and she did begin to stand her ground. We all know what this carer is like, but this new woman didn't, and had two weeks of being treated quite badly until she became angry and decided she wouldn't take it anymore.

CoffeeTea103 Fri 14-Mar-14 20:32:45

How much longer for your probationary period to be over.
I would just wait until then tbh before approaching people.

mistlethrush Fri 14-Mar-14 20:35:51

"This is an obscure thing that you have not yet shown me, look, I wrote down everything you showed me in that session and you definitely did not cover that, please could you show me what to do now?"

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:36:22

I think two more months? I'm not sure.

Do you think something like could result in me not passing my probation? sad

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:37:56


Already done.

Her reply?

"This means you didn't write everything I said down". And then she went and told the manager that I don't take notes seriously enough and keep asking her the same question.

CoffeeTea103 Fri 14-Mar-14 20:40:11

You know at this point i really think that saying something would just go against your favour. Even though your concerns are valid, it will probably be seen as a whole lot of trouble where there doesn't need to be ifyswim.
Just do your best for the next two months until you become permanent and then you don't have to take her crap anymore.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:40:34

I'm already putting in extra hours at work and doing my best to learn as quickly as possible. Most of the other people who joined when I did are still barely being given any work.

It's really difficult to go on when the only thing that gets noticed is the one thing that goes wrong and the five things that went well are ignored.

Tryharder Fri 14-Mar-14 20:42:01

Nod and smile. Swallow your irritation. Bite your tongue- this is not forever. Learn as much as you can. Don't argue.

When you have passed your probation, you can complain if necessary.

Tryharder Fri 14-Mar-14 20:43:49

Perhaps her niggling is her way of trying to push you to become even more competent. Maybe she's aware that you know the basics and is testing your knowledge of the obscure. Try and see her actions as a compliment rather than her trying to put you down.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:44:01

Yes, that's why I haven't officially complained. Because I'm so new and nobody knows me that well to understand or trust me anyway.

I'm just very concerned that she will keep giving unfair and negative feedback about my work despite the long hours and effort I am putting in.

Sometimes I also feel like she's deliberately doing too much too soon just to fluster and unsettle me.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:45:21

"Perhaps her niggling is her way of trying to push you to become even more competent. Maybe she's aware that you know the basics and is testing your knowledge of the obscure."

I really doubt that.

Try and see her actions as a compliment rather than her trying to put you down.

You probably have to be there to understand how she is, but this is impossible to do.

CoffeeTea103 Fri 14-Mar-14 20:45:55

Being through a similar experience I can tell you it's probably that she is threatened by you. Don't get involved in the politics of it. If your line manager can't see the value in your work then that that says a lot.
In evaluating whether you should be taken on as permanent, they will get assessment from all the other colleagues that you interacted with. So rather focus on building those relationships in the mean time.

ForeverJinxed Fri 14-Mar-14 20:45:56

The only time I say anything is to defend an unfair thing that is being said about me.

EBearhug Fri 14-Mar-14 20:48:14

My manager is nice, but I don't know if I should complain outright about this to her.

I don't think you need to complain outright, because what you want is a solution. I would say that I was finding it difficult to pick up some things I'm being taught because of the way it's being delivered, being asked what you understand from a document without any introduction. I'd ask if she was aware that you are entirely new to this work? Point out that feedback from other colleagues suggests you are capable of picking things up fairly quickly from other people

If I were your manager, I'd want to know how you've dealt with it so far - have you spoken to the madwoman to point out that this work is new to you? Have you suggested to her that it would be more helpful to have an introduction about what you're looking at today?

Try and take back control - there is probably a grain of sense in what she says about noting things down. Certainly when I'm learning new things, I do take notes about it all, but that is partly the way I learn things, and I know that I'm far more likely to remember things I've written down - plus if I don't remember, I've got notes to refer back to anyway. This is particularly useful if procedures aren't well documented.

Try and write a summary of all the things you have covered, and try to think about how well you think you know them. (Don't do it just for this woman, but for everyone else who has been showing you how to do things.) You can then ask what else you'll need to cover, and which are the highest priority. There may be a list of things you need to know somewhere in the department - if not, then you can start building one, if other new people come after you.

I have spent quite a bit of time training up new people in our department on the various processes we handle. I work through ticklists of things everyone needs to know, and then other lists of things you need to know if your role will include a particular area of responsibility. If you've got something like that, it's much easier to see what you've been covering and if you do quiz them on something, you can be sure whether it's something they should already know or not. But I wouldn't expect them to learn absolutely everything on first viewing - quizzing people is also a way of gauging what we need to go over again, not an opportunity to belittle them.

I think she is behaving unreasonably, but I think you're more likely to get somewhere with your manager if you approach it as you recognise there's a bit of a problem, but you want to look at how you can make things better, rather than just complaining - although pointing out that feedback from others is good is at least hinting that the problem is not with you. This should put you in a stronger position if she continues to be difficult and you do have to take it further.

Good luck.

amicissimma Fri 14-Mar-14 20:50:50

I'd bet quite a lot that you are not the only person who finds her difficult.

I'd recommend forcing yourself to remain calm, don't stoop to her level. When you ask her something and she says she's already told you, then just say, politely, that you need her to explain it again or to clarify. Maybe allow yourself the teeniest sigh, if you must! It's hard, but it will be noticed. Your speed at picking things up will also be noticed, plus your brilliance at dealing with your difficult colleague.

Don't apologise. Don't get into a discussion about whether or not she's shown you, or whether she's been clear or detailed enough. You can't win with people like that. Just say 'please show me/explain again'. Repeat as necessary. When she presents you with something you don't recognise, just say that you need her to explain/show before you are able to do whatever it is with that. Don't worry if it's in front of someone else. She's supposed to know the job. You're the learner. You won't look worse for not knowing than she will for not having brought you up to speed on it.

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