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Landed in the Twilight zone with a colleague, please help me!

(11 Posts)
Anawana Thu 23-Jul-20 11:11:20

Hi everyone!

I need some perspective as I think the hell of a workplace I've been in for the last year warped my perception of normality. I will put everything here as objectively as possible.

Last year in September I (26F) started my current job. The very first day, my colleague (48F) who I shared an office with shit talked about absolutely everyone behind their back, going as far as calling people's kids ugly. She said that she didn't like women. She then started being hot and cold with me. I shrugged off her mood swings. She wouldn't put phones coming for me through if she didn't like it but I never made a big deal out of it.

A month or so into the job, she went ballistic on me. I will spare you the details but basically she said that I had a problem with her and that I bullied her... by talking to other colleagues but not to trying to talk to her when she was giving me silent treatments. She swore a few times and when I told her that it was not acceptable, she goes 'well I'm (insert nationality), it's the way we talk'. I'm not same nationality with my colleagues, they are native to the UK. So this comment made me feel excluded.

At that point I found out that she was with the company for 8 years and there have been 7 people in my position during this period working directly with her and sharing an office. To me it was incredibly fishy, but when I asked about this to other colleagues they were like 'yeah, they all left for various reasons though'.

Around January, where she was completely ignoring me leading up to this, I made a horrible mistake and opened up to another colleague (40M) about it. I said that I didn't know what her problem was and that I was trying to do my job but she was making it impossible. I also mentioned what she'd told me about not liking women and I said that this could be a reason or maybe she doesn't like me personally. All I said was this.

A couple of weeks later, I'm pulled into my boss' office. She's crying, apparently the colleague I confided in told her what I said. Thing is, I didn't say anything hurtful or badmouth her so my boss is not angry with me. He says there's been a lot of misunderstandings between us, we need to grab a cup of coffee together and talk this through. She absolutely refuses it. And since January she hasn't spoken to me. My boss just sort of left it there.

I heard her calling me names, laughing at me, mocking me etc. I ignored all these. We are a small team of 9. I don't have any problems with anyone else. She's friends with everyone else. She has her moments with the others too but nothing as extreme as it was with me. She's overly friendly with the colleague who snitched me, calling him lover etc. Now he treats me with absolute disrespect too.

She's taken about 20 sick days in the last year, my boss doesn't seem to have a problem with it. We have no HR so I can't go over my boss' head. I have been living in the UK for only 2 years so I have no way of benchmarking what is normal, what isn't!

Other people including my boss acting like nothing is happening makes me feel soooo weird. I feel like it's all in my head and/or I am the problem here. But I honestly didn't do anything to add fuel, I've been kind and respecful all along. Am I being gaslighted?

I started therapy but it hasn't helped me much yet. Please let me know your thoughts and give me some advice or I'm going to lose it! Thanks so much.

OP’s posts: |
Thingsdogetbetter Thu 23-Jul-20 11:34:58

Everyone whose ever shared an office with her has left the company quickly. That's enough to know. This is not a new problem caused by a personality clash. This is her pattern for whatever reason she has - jealousy, insecurity etc. Your boss is just as bad as they're obviously aware of the issue (they must be with that staff turnover) and can't be arsed to do their job and deal with her.

My only suggestion is to save yourself and job hunt asap. If you're every asked to explain why you left quickly, you just say you were the 8th person to leave in 8 years - they'll know exactly what you mean!

Therapy won't work here because the issue is not in you. It's a toxic work environment and your boss is not willing to step up and deal with it. You could put in a complaint, but honestly in a small office with a shite boss it probably would make it more toxic for you.

So fuck them and their shite, save yourself and get out.

fflelp Thu 23-Jul-20 11:44:17

I worked with someone like this. I left after a year (it was in a primary school so I stuck it out for the year for the children). It was just hideous.
There are, unfortunately, types like her around who seem to have to have someone to bully. You end up in a right mess with your own self-esteem and confidence when someone goes at you like that.
There is really no other option than to look for a new job asap.

Perfectstorm12 Thu 23-Jul-20 11:47:23

Ugh, that sounds horrific. Stay in therapy just to give yourself space to process while you job search. Put your head down, you won't gain anything from speaking up now. She has her claws firmly entrenched in your workplace. Just get out as fast as you can. And learn for next time, becuase you might encounter this type of situation again, that sometimes we just have to leave.

Shizzlestix Thu 23-Jul-20 11:57:18

Write down everything, her name calling, her failure to put through calls. Make a big diary. Give it to your boss.

debwong Thu 23-Jul-20 13:15:48

She swore a few times and when I told her that it was not acceptable, she goes 'well I'm (insert nationality), it's the way we talk'. I'm not same nationality with my colleagues, they are native to the UK. So this comment made me feel excluded.

I don't understand this bit... everyone else in the office is from the UK, but she isn't?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 23-Jul-20 13:27:05

Whatever nationality she is and uses that as an excuse for her behaviour, she is abusive and you are indeed in a toxic work environment. Your boss is not up to the task at all of dealing with it.

I worked in a toxic work environment with no HR and there is really no other option than to look for a new job asap. If this is how crap it is also not even a year in, its not going to improve.

Anawana Thu 23-Jul-20 14:00:35

Thank you ever so much for all your responses. I feel much better knowing what's happening is not OK and although very unfortunate, knowing that there are people out there who's experienced similar things make me feel less lonely. Anyone else sharing their experience or thoughts are much appreciated!

@debwong - Sorry if that bit wasn't clear, she is from the UK just like the rest of the team. I am the one who's different nationality so she told me that and I quote 'I'm English, that's how we talk. It's not my problem if you wouldn't know this.' That's why I felt excluded.

OP’s posts: |
debwong Thu 23-Jul-20 14:23:07

@Anawana Thanks. That's not nice of her to say that. Very exclusionary and just plain rude.

Deathraystare Thu 23-Jul-20 15:45:19

* 'I'm English, that's how we talk. It's not my problem if you wouldn't know this.' That's why I felt excluded*

Sounds like bullshit, actually!

pastachips Thu 23-Jul-20 19:54:11

Sorry you are going through this OP.

It sounds like a very toxic work place. I was in a situation many years ago when I was bullied by a two faced colleague. I left and I have been working in a much more professional work place.

I think you need to start looking for another job. You might want to go to your boss with evidence of what this woman is doing when you have given in your notice to stop her doing it to the new person.

Good luck

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