How to deal with workplace ostracism

(15 Posts)
Becky274 Tue 29-Oct-19 20:47:00


It’s my first time posting so bear with me! I’ve been working for my employer for about 12 years but I think I’m being bullied at work. A new woman started in our office about 7 months ago; she’s 15 years younger than me. At first we got on brilliantly but she has started to give me the silent treatment for the last few weeks. I have no idea why; I have asked and she won’t tell me. Prior to this she started making little digs about age, was constantly trying to get one over on me etc, tried to make me look unorganised. She gossips a lot and is very cliquey with about 4 other women there. I can take all of this but I don’t know how to handle the silent treatment and it’s starting to take a real toll on my mental health. She purposely goes out of her way to make sure she talks to everyone but me and will ask everyone but me to lunch etc. I haven’t done anything to warrant this; we had a good relationship but I do think she’s jealous of the job I do, it’s the same band but more responsibility. Any tips to deal with this or what could be causing her to treat me like this? I’m very friendly to everyone, I have a lot of empathy for people and will talk to anyone so it’s not that I’ve left her out or done anything to her. I did call her out on some of the inappropriate things she was saying but the silent treatment has only recently started so is not related as far as I’m aware and I’ve never experienced anything like it. I have 3 small children and I’m trying to juggle work and home life but I’m constantly worrying over work even when I’m at home. It’s an awful feeling.

OP’s posts: |
Aria2015 Tue 29-Oct-19 21:18:01

Sorry you're going though this. You say you've never experienced this before which leads me to think the problem is with her and not you. Usually people who do this kind of thing have done it before. It's a cruel and passive aggressive way of showing you're not happy with someone. You have two choices which are to confront her - either directly or I directly (via your manager or HR) or you can just try and ignore how she behaves and focus your attention on your colleagues that do treat you respectfully and civilly. Personally I feel like people should be called out for this kind of behaviour. If you say nothing then she simply gets away with treating you badly but I know that it can be hard to confront things and can sometimes cause more angst.

I have someone in my personal life who is doing this to me and it really got me down. It took a good friend to reassure me the problem lays with the other person and that I should focus my attention on my friends who don't behave this way to snap me out of it. The truth is, I don't need this person in my life and I shouldn't be giving my time up worrying about what she does or doesn't think about me when I could spend that emotional energy positively on all the lovely people in my life that don't treat me that way.

You can never really go back to being friendly with her anyway because you can never trust that she won't cut you off again if you do something (real or not) that she doesn't like.

Isleepinahedgefund Wed 30-Oct-19 10:02:35

Is the whole office ostracising you? I personally wouldn't be that bothered if it's just the only silly woman behaving like a schoolyard bully, but if she's managed to get the whole office to treat you the same that's a different matter.

Most importantly, I can guarantee this is about her and not you. Sounds like she has got her feet under the table and dropped the "nice" act, reverting to type - I'll bet money she has behaved like this before.

How is it actually impacting you and your work? Do you need to interact with her and she is making it challenging to carry out your duties, or is it the social impact?

Have other people noticed? Do you talk to others about it? When it's happened to me (a few times, there are many of these stupid people around) it's always been because they perceived me as a threat in some way. Also, other people had always noticed, and the behaviour of the bully toward me was also impacting on them too.

Becky274 Wed 30-Oct-19 16:54:33

Hi both, I just wanted to say thank you so much for just replying; I already feel much better. You’ve both said that it’s about her and not me which I think i knew was the case deep down already so it’s so reassuring to know. I have called her out on her behaviour but sometimes it is always turned round on me ‘you’re being too sensitive’, ‘oh see I knew I’d get a bite’ I know this is just making the blame about me but I can be a bit sensitive so don’t want to do anything to let her make comments as such about me. And it’s not only me, it’s a close friend of mine there too. The whole office isn’t doing it, however she has made sure she is super pally with everyone there and she’s also a compulsive liar so I am a little concerned that she might start telling them I’ve said things I haven’t etc. I suppose I’m a little confused as to why she’s targeted me as I will stand up for myself, also how did you deal the silent treatment? I’ve been pretending I haven’t noticed but not really sure it’s working.

Thanks to you both again for being so lovely

OP’s posts: |
Becky274 Wed 30-Oct-19 17:12:00

Also in answer to your question it’s more the social side of it that’s impacting me. I sit next to her but I don’t really have to speak to her about work as we work in busy sales office and my work is nothing to do with her. I do think it’s a maturity thing as well as this is her first job since she left college. I suppose what really annoys me is she thinks she can treat me like this 🤷‍♀️

OP’s posts: |
Becky274 Wed 30-Oct-19 17:20:36

Also, sorry! Just to add I know I’m good at my job and did this lady’s job before she started and she knows I was well thought of when I did it so I do wonder if that is to do with it. I generally don’t have a lot of confidence in myself but I do know I’m good at what I do and receive positive feedback so I think it might be a threat thing. Only thing is that the others she is pally with are also good at their jobs so 🤷‍♀️ Maybe it’s that I’m a bit older and uncool lol as she is very driven by looks and material things and is super competitive. Maybe I’ve answered my own question 🤦‍♀️🤣

OP’s posts: |
DeeCeeCherry Wed 30-Oct-19 17:21:07

If she doesn't impact upon your actual work then just ignore her in return. Don't focus your time and energy on her. She wants you to worry, she wants to spoil your day. Don't let her. If she doesn't speak to you then fine, just bypass her get on with your work. You have other colleagues.

Unfortunately you can't force other people to like you. So remain professional but if she turns things up a notch then be prepared to take matters further. For now keep a little diary of her behaviour and try not to be alone with her any time at all. Don't give her the satisfaction of knowing she's got to you. If she's rude calmly tell her you won't engage with rudeness. Then walk away, leave it at that.

I can't stand bullies I find them contemptuous.

Good luck OP


TimeforanotherChange Wed 30-Oct-19 17:28:05

Personally I would ignore her, she's utterly petty, and if you don't need to have any conversation with her then don't.

However, if it is becoming obvious, or an issue I would ask to speak to my manager and put a dignified complaint in about workplace bullying. Simply state that this woman is refusing to speak to you and is making passive aggressive digs that are clearly directed at you - make sure you report exactly the words she has used. Tell them it is utterly unprofessional and that you expect some action to be taken about it. Management should warn her that her behaviour is causing an unpleasant atmosphere that no one wants. It's not acceptable to have to put up with being bullied at work.

EngTech Wed 30-Oct-19 17:33:54

Sorry to hear about this OP

Takes two to play the game and if you rise above it, yes, I know, not easy and not react, you will win in the long run.

As long as you are professional, do your job, not a lot they can do.

If you bite and react, they have won.

It also helps if you document things as if HR get involved down the line, you can show that it is not a one of but a trend

Becky274 Wed 30-Oct-19 17:44:33

Thank you everyone! Yes documenting it is a good idea I’ll start doing that tomorrow. I guess I’m just a bit confused as to why she’s doing it, or why anyone would even want to do that to someone very bizarre. Makes me wonder if she sees me as weak in some way. I feel that she would love for me to leave but I’m not sure why 🤷‍♀️ You’re all absolutely right in remaining professional and not biting or reacting to it which is what I will continue to do whilst documenting everything. Hopefully others will see through her childish behaviour soon enough. Thank you for all being so supportive!!

OP’s posts: |
Isleepinahedgefund Wed 30-Oct-19 18:03:48

Ah, so she HAS just left school! In that case I wouldn't in the first instance tell the manager about bullying, personally I'd broach the subject with management with the angle that this woman is obviously inexperienced in the workplace and doesn't understand how to act professionally, and needs to be given some guidance by management. That her unprofessional behaviour is disrupting the whole workplace and needs to be dealt with.

whatisforteamum Thu 07-Nov-19 10:51:35

Ahh she seems jealous and insecure about your experience.I have a similar situation except the age gap is over 30 years.It has caused me to dislike a job I previously loved.I did speak to my manager who did nothing.However I m sure she is leaving soon as I am standing my ground.I hope this new person does the same in your case.
Stand firm and focus on who you.

StormBaby Thu 07-Nov-19 11:00:59

I'm in a similar situation, I'm the oldest in my office and I am ignored, left out of social stuff, set up with mistakes, booby traps are left for me with my customers when I'm on annual leave(they basically treat them like shit so I have the fallout to deal with). I'm a happy, positive person who never causes drama so there's no need for it. I've been ignoring it for two years now and nothing ever changes. I was staying 20 mins late every night while they all swanned off leaving time sensitive work, it was noticed by management and it got turned around that I wasn't efficient enough and ended up being shadowed to be 'retrained'. You have my sympathies OP as it is soul destroying. I'm applying desperately for other jobs as I can't hack it. They are so petty here that they won't even say 'bless you' if I sneeze. 🙄

Oblomov19 Fri 08-Nov-19 04:01:22

Oh stormbaby, you have my every sympathy.

I have similar. Your words struck a chord with me.

"it was noticed by management and it got turned around that I wasn't efficient enough and ended up being shadowed to be 'retrained'."

Same here. I couldn't do the workload expected in the time. I stayed late twice. I reported it and instead of support, I was told I should be able to manage, because "the previous lady did".

Apart from the fact that the sales have tripled if not quadrupled since then! hmm

Now I'm being 'supervised' and I should be glad and appreciative? hmm

These kind of things never end well, do they? Seriously? Realistically? Never.

Worryhead82 Wed 13-Nov-19 17:12:53

Hi becky274
I had to reply to you, I'm experiencing the EXACT same treatment! 😔. Apologies for the rant, I'm just at my wit's end!

I've worked for the same company for almost 16yrs and the past 5yrs have been sheer torture! My role changed after I returned from my having my 2nd child (it was deemed no longer required and my position was adjusted to suit the new owners preferences). With this change my colleagues deemed my role as nothing special and I was just like them (a none management position), however I have more responsibilities than they do. I do earn slightly more than them, this could be a factor, but I've been there longer than them all and know more than them...

I work in an office with 4 women.
Lady no. 1 Is is much older than me and is a typical set in her ways character. She is very accommodating to management but completely disregards me. A the gossip and fantasist (often tells porkies).
She often hassles them for things she knows I can do. Lately the ostracizing has stepped up a notch, she asks all the ladies in the office what they've got for lunch or if they've anything nice planned evening/weekend...but not directly ask me.
Her role is invoicing, which my work involves invoicing too.

Lady no. 2 She is also older but by 14yrs. She is a bossy character that says she does the opposite of what she actually does i.e says she doesn't take sides but gossips and bitches behind your back.
She says she doesn't tell lies - wrong! She loves playing the martyr - oh I'm soo snowed under yet takes personal phone calls from her grown up children throughout the day and proceeds to arrange her personal life in work. She also wastes time on FB/shopping, then complains she's too busy. Management think she's wonderful yet have no clue she's abusing working time.

Lady no 3. No real issues apart from she's lady no. 2 alli, so won't have bad word said against.

Lady no 4. Is new and lovely so no issues.

My grievance is I work damn hard and see all the slacking going on.....and if it didn't impact me I wouldn't care....only it does! When our invoicing figures are low, Mgmt come down on those that invoice ie ME! I feel quite angry that I'm asked to chip in and help when I know they've been messing around and wasting effectively an hour or 2 a day! Oh I forgot I'm not full time too, but expected to cram a crazy about of work (hence my upset at time wasters). Yesterday was a joke, lady no 2 was on half day and was leaving at 12.30.....yet snook out at 12 for a smoke!! Totally taking the p***!

Am I being unreasonable to feel aggreaved??

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