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How to Face and Manage Nasty Officemates August 27, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee.
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No matter how perfect your job may be – it pays well, your boss is nice, you’re doing well, etc. – it can still be made bad by a few of your officemates who are unpleasant, rude, meddlesome and just plain jerks.  Before you lose your sanity, learn how to cope with nasty officemates and toxic co-workers.  Here’s how:

Avoid.
If you know it’s a poisonous plant, why would you want to stand so close?  A nasty officemate is as bad as poison ivy so if you don’t want to suffer, keep yourself physically, mentally and socially away from them.  Talk to them only when absolutely necessary, be civil (not friendly), do not engage and certainly do not annoy – unless you’re in the mood for some conflict.

Practice civility.
Nasty officemates are often bullies.  It takes the littlest thing to provoke them to snap and bite.  Without being submissive, simply refuse to react or fall into their trap.  Don’t break down or lose your temper because that’s what they are hoping you’d do.  If you can, walk away.

Take action if things get out of hand or too much.  Talk to the person and confront them about the issue as calmly as you can.  Most office nasties are really just chickens at heart.  If they don’t stop, ask to speak to the HR manager or your supervisor/manager.

Use humor.
Throwing a joke at someone making a catty remark or doing something to make work more difficult for you sometimes works.  If a faultfinding officemate says, ‘Oh my gosh!  You talked to the boss that way?  I never could have done it myself.’  You could answer back by saying something like, ‘Took me six years to practice just the first sentence, did you know that?’

By deflecting the tension the nasty officemate is trying to throw your way, you help lighten things up.  It will also show that what he has to say doesn’t hold any value with you and that you’re not taking him as seriously as he would like you to.

Use sarcasm.
If you can handle it and you have the gift for gab, use a sarcastic comment to shut someone up.  Nasty officemates often work with the premise that other people are meek and easily threatened.  This makes them believe they have the power to talk and act the way they do.

If an officemate says, ‘I read that project proposal you made.  Man, whatever possessed you to write such a thing?’  You could strike back in a subtle way by saying, ‘Yeah, I actually went to see a priest after I wrote that… THING.  And by the way, what ever possessed you to read a project proposal about something you don’t supervise?’

Be careful, though.  Make sure you can handle the situation.  By being sarcastic, you could be poking at a hornet’s nest.  Don’t start a fight if you don’t want one.

Be honest.
If someone said something hurtful, then let them know that it really is hurtful.  ‘That’s a mean thing to say’ is a good way to express your feelings and lay the field open for that person to take responsibility for their words. 

You could leave it at that or you could add a few words.  You could, for example, say, ‘I worked really hard on that project and you dismissing it just like is just plain mean.’ 

Keep your words short and don’t lecture or tell a sob story.  Make your point in a few sentences and then get out of there.  Don’t wait for your nasty officemates to apologize.  If they’re decent enough, they will, which means they are actually worth forgiving.

Stand by your choice and opinions.
Some nasty officemates like to tease about your decisions.  They may make light of it, tell jokes about related incidents that failed or make you feel like the idiot you are not.  Silence these jokers by telling them that you’ve made your choice/decision and it’s up to you, not them.  You can’t help it that they can’t get your idea.

If they’re too dense to understand the point, then ignore them.  If it turns out that you’re right, it will only expose how ignorant and small-minded others are.

If you’re right, stick to your guns.
Sometimes, it’s best not to explain, particularly if you know you’re right.  Often, the best way to convince someone is to let them have their way.  If this is the case, then let your achievements speak for themselves.  The rest can watch in the sidelines.

More bad officemates?  Here are links to:

Handling Nasty Officemates II

and

Handling Nasty Officemates III

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Comments»

1. Shri - October 5, 2009

This is really useful…im having a nasty office mate…. i’ve been working here before he came…. after he came i hate this place… i cant hang up any more…. i thought of giving up my job… My job is fine… my boss is really nice…. im enjoying my work… but why this idiot is not leaving me alone? he pokes his nose in to my work… spread gossips about me… sometimes he try to rule me! However after reading this, i think i can handle this idiot. After all why i should give up my career just because of this jerk!

dapinoyemployee - October 18, 2009

Way to go! I’m glad you’ve found a way to handle a person who cannot contribute to your progress as an employee and as a person. Never let anyone get the better of you. Do your job well, focus on the positive and never lose your temper.

2. Anonymous - November 22, 2011

thank you for the guidelines, and i agree with it,
…..yes, its better to stay away from poisonous minds . A nasty officemate might lead us suffer in many ways,thus, its better to keep away from them. Being civil is ok-NOt FRIENDLY coz they are not deserving. talk to them if needed especially if work related to maintain harmony.


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