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Work colleague shouting me down

(26 Posts)
NewUserName01 Wed 08-Feb-17 11:12:52

Not sure which forum to post this in but this is a relationship of sorts so I thought I'd try here.

I've been in a new job for a few months. It's been a huge learning curve. There was no handover because the person who was doing the job before left after having a strop. It's a part-time job (25 hours a week) but the previous person had 32 hours. I've also got a lot more responsibilities than the previous person - I think my employer saw her leaving as an opportunity to offload work from other people into my role.

Anyway, I seem to be coping except the person who's heading the accounts department is really getting me down. I don't have to have too much to do with her but every interaction I have she just rants on and on and it's impossible to get a word in edgeways.

She's had a go at me 3 times now for things that I've either already done or are just not a problem:

1. I had to finish a load of accounts by a certain date which I did. I gave her hard copies of the accounts but also sent her an email explaining what I'd done and attaching all the spreadsheets where the hard copies had come from. She complained that I shouldn't have given her hard copies, they're useless to her and that I should have attached the spreadsheets. She went on and on for about 5 minutes while I kept trying to say, "But I did ...".

2. I sent her some accounts again - attached the spreadsheet as before but not printed off. This time she complained about the name of the worksheet saying it had to have another name, it was vitally important and I must do things as they'd always been done. However, this is just a copy of the usual spreadsheet and I hadn't changed the worksheet name, it's always been that. Even if I had, she's only taking the figures off the sheet and putting them onto client's accounts; it makes no difference to anyone else. Tried telling her but she just keeps talking and repeating herself over and over.

3. Someone else in her department queried a purchase order with me (from way before my time) and I told her what I thought it was for. She said they'd never received the invoices and I said I'd received them and had sent them to X (difficult person). I then get a phone call from X ranting about how she'd been searching for those invoices for months and it was vital that I made sure all invoices went to her ... blah blah blah. All the time I'm saying, "But I did, I sent them on 13th Dec .." but she just shuts me down. Her colleague came back to see me later saying how awful she'd felt and that she knew I'd sent them (I'd shown her the email earlier) and that X was lying.

She just doesn't listen at all. Every time she tells me something she goes into great detail about her job and how hard it is and that people don't understand and I need to understand ... blah blah blah. When I try to talk she just repeats herself.

I've tried approaching her before doing anything and asking how she would like it done and then she throws her arms wide apart saying, "I don't mind! I don't mind! You can do whatever you like." and then rants on and on incoherently.

I don't think she's very well really but it's getting me down so much. I know it's not just me because I hear she does it to lots of other people too. However, for my own sanity I need a way of handling her. I felt close to tears yesterday afternoon and was trembling after talking to her which seems such an overreaction.

I don't want to fall out with her but need to be able to defend myself or somehow come across as someone she can't treat like this. I need to toughen up.

Any ideas?

Twogoats Wed 08-Feb-17 11:25:26

Whenever someone shouts at me, I very quietly reply: "there's no need to shout, I'm sitting right here." smile

Rumtopf Wed 08-Feb-17 11:28:02

Can't you walk away when she starts ranting?

Ask for a meeting with your manager and be honest about how this woman's behaviour is affecting your working environment.

If it were me I'd make sure I was doing everything (as you seem to be) promptly and efficiently and not give her a chance to rant. Be concise when speaking to her and if she starts ranting over you, hold your hand up in a stop fashion and tell her to stop, if she doesn't, walk away. Email everything wherever possible as then it's obvious what you've been doing and any confusion is lessened.

It sounds tedious and entirely unecessary.

BrownEyedLady Wed 08-Feb-17 11:29:41

I think it will help to get your manager behind you so maybe seek advice from her about how to handle this going forward. Explain what you've done to resolve the issue yourself and the impact/or not it has had. If you word it as seeking her advice for additional thinga to try, it won't come across as complaining/moaning. Plus if the finance lady says/does anything truly outrageous in future that needs your manager's intervention, she will already have a bit of a background.

Heatherjayne1972 Wed 08-Feb-17 11:30:54

I'd let her go on and on. She'll stop eventually Then you calmly and quietly say what you need to say and repeat yourself as needed
Dont raise your voice. Be calm
If she doesn't stop you might need to involve hr or a more senior manager

mrsenasharples Wed 08-Feb-17 11:48:27

I'd flag this up with your manager. Explain the problem and how you've tried to deal with it. Say that she is having a very negative effect.

I'd email everything. No face to face or telephone conversations. If she rings, let it go to voicemail and email her back.

If you do need to speak to her and she is ranting/not listening then give it a minute or so then tell her to email clear instructions to you then walk away mid-sentence.

She sounds like a loon.

NewUserName01 Wed 08-Feb-17 11:49:15

She tends to do it over the phone although she'd do it to my face as well. So, all the incidents listed above she's phoned me up and just gone on and on. I've tended to stay mainly silent and occasionally trying to calmly interrupt but she just keeps going. I've thought about putting the phone down and then when she calls back saying that I will only talk to her if she lets me talk too but don't know if that will be inflammatory.

She does have form for blowing up at people. She also bursts into tears regularly and storms out. I went into her office a few weeks ago and someone was saying to her that they needed a cheque raised and she just stared at them with her eyes brimming, arms outstretched. At least she was silent that time!

I mentioned it to my manager yesterday and she asked if I wanted to make a formal complaint but I don't feel at that stage yet. I'm pretty certain she's not well but she's going to make me ill at this rate!

I like the idea of just letting her go on and on and then saying my bit at the end. So far I've been so desperate for it to stop I've found myself saying, "Ok, bye" just to get out of the situation.

mrsenasharples Wed 08-Feb-17 11:57:40

She sounds very stressed. Is she really busy? Maybe she has personal issues.

Maybe speak to your manager and express your concern for her. She isn't behaving like a rational human being.

GallivantingWildebeest Wed 08-Feb-17 12:01:50

Your manager needs to get involved and deal with her. Not sure that making a formal complaint si the best way to start, though? Surely your manager could talk to her first?

Her behaviour does sound abnormal - it does sound as though she's ill. I'm surprised her manager hasn't already talked to her.

If she starts like that on the phone again, hang up. Email her and say that she asn't letting you speak and you'd prefer to communicate by email.

user892 Wed 08-Feb-17 12:05:15

This person needs support and a plan to help her cope.

NewUserName01 Wed 08-Feb-17 12:16:08

I think she's unwell but I think my employer already knows this although nobody's said anything outright. I get the impression that they'd like to get rid of her if they could and I don't want to be part of that by making official complaints, however I don't want to be treated like this either!

I've got to go now as due in at 12:30. Dreading it.

Dayna1 Wed 08-Feb-17 12:22:10

If she has something against you, but you remain calm, it will be like the best revenge you can get. I mean, obviously there must be a reason why she is acting like that, it could be that her work is very stressful and that she too has a lot to deal with. She then vents this sterss through shouting to you. There could be a lot of reasons, but the most important thing is not to lose your temper. If she doesn't change soon enough, you might tell her that her attitude is unacceptable as you have done this and this right and that if she still disagrees, you feel inclined to take this to the managers.

Gingerbreadlass Wed 08-Feb-17 12:25:04

Poor you, she sounds a complete nightmare. Does she behave like this with your other colleagues?

Time to put your big girl pants on and put a stop to it. It sounds like you are coping really well and behaving professionally in your role, so assert yourself.

If she rants on I would hold my palm up to her and say, "Stop right there, you are repeating yourself".

If she shouts or rants at you I'd say very clearly and calmly: "X, there is no need for this tone and attitude".

The face palm and STOP word will break her flow of ramblings and the addressing by her name will get her and everyone else's attention.

I would keep a diary book and record every single interaction with her. It's tedious but should you want to report it to a manager it's imperative that there is a historic log which you can show.

Gingerbreadlass Wed 08-Feb-17 12:27:21

Do you work in an environment with taped phone lines? If you want to complain you need to record date and time to pull the tapes.

As Gallivanting said, if she rants on the phone just put it down and let her email you.

GeorgeTheHamster Wed 08-Feb-17 12:36:22

You need to take a step back from her and communicate as much as possible by email.

When you have had the interactions you describe above, have you gone to her or has she come to you? Do you need to speak to her at all?

jcne Wed 08-Feb-17 14:40:47

anyone raising their voice or being remotely aggressive has immediately invalidated their own right to have a say imo, at work this is doubly so. walk away from her, hang up the phone, keeps notes of everything and make a complaint - no one should feel this way at work, ever.

i finally stood up to my bullying boss (also accountant!) and it was terrifying but my grievance was upheld and i've just heard that she is not going to be returning to work ever 😀🙌🏽👋🏽

RandomWordsandaNumber5 Wed 08-Feb-17 17:36:54

She does sound difficult to deal with so I think a change of strategy on your part is called for.
I would refuse to engage if she starts ranting. Just walk away with dignity. Then, when you get back to your desk, email her the information that you've been trying to communicate. I would also be blind copying the e mail to yourself to keep a record.
I also think that you should be talking to your supervisor to get this colleague's behaviour on the record with him/ her.

NewUserName01 Wed 08-Feb-17 18:55:35

Thanks everyone. Lots of good advice there.

I don't tend to get in touch with her and if I do, it's by email but then her response will be to phone me back and rant. I think I'll try saying I can't talk for long and could she put it in an email or I could probably even not answer the phone to her because we have caller display.

I avoid going into her room as far as possible because you never know what mood she's going to be in - happy / angry / tearful & vulnerable.

Someone else was telling me about a run in they'd had with her this week which sounded similarly bizarre. I know it's not just me, she treats most people like this but she's been there for about 10 years and so it seems to be tolerated although I've heard that the person who last did my job had a terrible relationship with her and I've also heard that my manager doesn't get on with her either.

I'll keep my head down and try to do as much as possible by email and if I have to talk to her I'll keep calm and distant and try to stop her with closed body language / long silences / needing to rush off somewhere etc. I'll see how it goes. If it keeps happening I'll talk to my manager again.

Thanks everyone.

BrownEyedLady Wed 08-Feb-17 18:57:56

Might your manager want you to make a complaint so that they have something concrete address this behaviour with?

I would go into every interaction with her expecting this type of response, knowing that it definitely isn't anything to do with you/what you're saying, and just be really business like and matter of fact with her. If you're on the phone with her it might actually make it easier - you can make a note for yourself to remind you it's her, not you, plus the main reasons for your call so you can keep bringing the conversation back on track.

Don't be afraid to make up a reason to end the call - you have a conference call/meeting to go to etc so you have an out.

Coloursthatweremyjoy Wed 08-Feb-17 19:07:06

If she keeps repeating herself you could try actually saying "you keep repeating yourself what are you trying to say?" Or when she is mid rant interrupt firmly with "we don't seem to be getting anywhere here I'll send you an email" then leave whether she heard you or not. The key is to stay calm and keep your voice level. Alternatively as pp have said wait for the tirade to pass and then say "so from my point to of view..."

Do not say "are you on a loop?" I find it pushes people over the edge...

NamelessEnsign Wed 08-Feb-17 19:19:38

OP you sound like a kind soul - which is great but it is having an impact on you and you shouldn't have to suffer this.

Practical things - can you take your phone off the hook when you have had to email her? I would very firmly say 'I have to go - email me please' then put down the phone if someone repeatedly berated me like that.

I wouldn't give up on the idea of a formal complaint but I don't think you would be wrong to ask for guidance on how to deal with her. If you phrase it as aiming for greater efficiency - your time is very limited after all - they may authorise hanging up etc.

You have my sympathies. I have to work (remotely) with someone who dislikes me and who, I'm told, has bipolar disorder. I never know how she is going to react to anything, she shirks all additional responsibilities, and sometimes just completely loses her shit with me. We have a new HR director so I am hoping if it starts again I will have support (I am generally a mild and unobjectionable person - I rub along ok with pretty much everyone!). But it took me a long time to learn that it wasn't my failing and ultimately you can't fix everyone.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 08-Feb-17 19:31:12

I thought the same as a PP. When the manager asked if you wanted to make a formal complaint maybe they have been waiting for ages for someone with the balls to make one against her so they can do something about it (especially if they have heard tales but never witnessed it).

It is possible that they would welcome a chance to have a word with her about her behaviour (and are just too chicken to broach it themselves)!

NewUserName01 Wed 08-Feb-17 19:47:44

Yes, I think my manager would like me to make a formal complaint. I think they really want to find a way to get her out which makes me feel uncomfortable which is ridiculous!

NamelessEnsign - sorry to hear you're going through the same thing.

PutneyPandora Wed 08-Feb-17 20:01:13

Hi! Just read your email...she sounds a bully or someone so incredibly insecure in her role...when someone lashes out like that, in my experience it is because they are covering their own mishaps! I'm sorry to hear this person is making you feel like this... i would suggest you book a private meeting room, invite said person to meeting and confront her ridiculous behaviour! Calmly explain to her how her behaviour is not acceptable and that you would welcome a professional working relationship and not one where she a) doesn't listen b) shouts over you c) is downright rude.
I wish you lots of luck...I really sympathise with your situation.

picklemepopcorn Wed 08-Feb-17 20:15:28

I know it's tricky, but try and detach yourself. It's not you, it's her.
When she starts just tune her out. Think of your favourite song, plan a meal, an outing...
Go to your happy place! When she eventually winds down say. 'Ok, I get it'. She will run out of steam.
Every attempt you make to interject will just make her run on longer.
Just pretend to pay attention, nod agreement, say ok. She can't run without fuel.

It will get easier with practice.

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