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Dealing with a hostile colleague

(13 Posts)
whirlycurly Mon 24-Apr-17 19:08:27

I work in a team of about 10 people - we all generally get on well but I have a female colleague who fluctuates between being sickly sweet and foul to me. Right now, it's foul and the atmosphere is awful. She is always at the centre of a drama, regularly falls out with others and i find her exhausting.

I've recently returned from something which was a real adventure in my personal life and I think this has triggered the latest episode. (It's something I didn't really talk much about at work but she'd likely have heard on the grapevine.) We have similar life circumstances and I wonder if perhaps she draws comparisons between us, particularly financially. She always notices and comments if I wear new things to work.

I've tried lots of tactics to work with her - being supportive and recognising her input into work projects when appropriate (she's good at her job imo) , in front of her and to her line manager. We have no contact outside work, on social media etc. I try to be friendly in a professional way but have no energy for drama - outside work I'd totally avoid anyone behaving this way but our company is too small for me to do this.

I'm quite comfortable with not everyone liking me. The ones I care about do. smile What I'd love to be able to do with this colleague is clear the air, openly acknowledge we're not each other's greatest fans and agree to work together harmoniously but I think that level of honesty might be a step too far. Any advice welcome.

brownear Mon 24-Apr-17 19:14:17

Unfortunately you can't control her behaviour, only your own, so nothing you can do other than continue going to work and treat her the same as everyone else. All that matters is that you behave appropriately, her behaviour reflects only on her and it's not your worry.

whirlycurly Mon 24-Apr-17 19:41:02

Yes, hopefully if I breezily ignore she'll get bored and move on to the next thing. I'll steel myself for tomorrow. I knew as soon as I saw her this morning what today would be like.

Most people I work with are fab, there's always one though sad

noego Mon 24-Apr-17 19:47:41

Why do you feel you have to clear the air. Just do what you do. Be professional. Her drama's are her drama's. Her behaviour is her behaviour. It takes to much effort to try and smooth the waters. if it is disruptive to the team then it is the line managers role to sort it out and have a word with her. Seriously just do what you do and be friends with your colleagues as you see fit. Beyond that just have no interest in anything all. Do you really need this drama queens approval. Grow a pair.

Huskylover1 Mon 24-Apr-17 19:48:39

When she is next nasty, reply with "Did that come out how you meant it to, that sounded rather rude".....totally call her out on it.

Earlybird Mon 24-Apr-17 19:49:19

Interesting that she is constantly falling out with others / creating drama....do you think her line manager is aware of the situation? It may be that they are willing to overlook it because she is good at her job. Just wondering if she might one day sabotage herself with her behaviour.

But that isn't much help to you now in the midst of it all.

TimelessReality Mon 24-Apr-17 20:03:28

I would be wary of someone like that. They can easily turn. I would say keep your distance, keep it professional, as others say. I wouldn't even go out of your way to be friendly to her, just be civil. You sound like a nice person, but not all people are remember. I wouldn't bother trying to have a conversation or clear the air either, if she's that unstable or mendacious she'd find a way to make an argument out of it at some point ...

I would also keep a note of her behaviour. And I would also wonder if her line manager knew of her negative impact on people.

ClemDanfango Mon 24-Apr-17 20:07:08

Be boring around her only speak about work and when she asks what you've been up to just say 'oh nothing much' and she might bugger off and leave you alone and find someone else to feed her drama.

whirlycurly Mon 24-Apr-17 20:09:49

No, genuinely no need for her approval whatsoever, I have lots of friends and am doing fine in my own career. I just don't want to work in a shitty atmosphere or have to watch my back. I feel like I'm at a stage in life where I'm confident enough to confront a workplace bully if it would make any difference. I just don't know that it would.

Earlybird, I think you're spot on. She serves a purpose but I think will ultimately self destruct. Her line manager is aware to an extent but generally her work carries her through and he likes a quiet life.

NurseButtercup Mon 24-Apr-17 20:15:06

Stay professional, be nice and only engage in work related conversations. Try your best not to rise to her obvious dig's at you. Hopefully she'll get bored and leave you alone.

whirlycurly Mon 24-Apr-17 20:17:11

Timeless, that's why I haven't done it so far. I do wonder if she's a bit unstable and don't particularly want the aggravation.

I think I'll give it another few days and have a discreet chat with her line manager if it doesn't stop (have a good relationship with him) I think the rest of the team, bar maybe one, have got her measure so no worries there.

noego Mon 24-Apr-17 20:19:36

Workplace bully, playground bully, relationship bully. There is only one way to respond. Ignore it and keep ignoring it. It will eventually get fed up and move on.

Earlybird Mon 24-Apr-17 21:18:43

I would not confront her or attempt to 'clear the air'. It would be far too easy for her to turn on you, or somehow twist the situation so that you appear to be part of the problem.

As far as possible, I think you should simply continue to do your job well, keep contact with her at a courteous and professional bare minimum, and rise above. Focus on the people you trust / enjoy and try not to think about her or let her distract you. And don't let her know she is irritating or upsetting you. That may fuel the situation further.

Trust that karma will eventually come into play, or that she will slip up and self-destruct.

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