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How to Handle Nasty Officemates II September 7, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Got bad officemates?  Here are a few more nasty officemate situations and tips on how to handle them:

They get their grubby hands on your personal stuff.
Your pens get borrowed, snatched from your desk and never gets returned.  Your computer is used for a game of solitaire while you were having lunch.  Your magazine subscription arrives opened and you know for sure someone has already read it before you.  Someone rummages through your desk for a notepad or a Post-it.  Had enough?

First violations are often forgivable.  When things get toxic at the office, someone is bound to slip and borrow stuff from their officemates without asking for permission or returning the borrowed items immediately.  You might have to forgive these people at first.  However, if it becomes a habit, it’s time you told them you’d appreciate it if they asked your permission first before taking anything from your desk. 

You could also fool-proof your desk or computer.  Lock your desk each time you’re away for long periods and use a password on your computer.  I’m not sure if opening other people’s mails is considered a punishable offense in the Philippines but if you know who did it, talk to them and tell them nicely that it’s personal stuff.  If they want to read or borrow it, they should ask you for permission first.

People mess up your workplace.
Meredith (not her real name) had an officemate who would enter her small office space to cut her fingernails, of all things.  Meredith, being the patient woman that she was, didn’t really care at first.  However, this officemate would leave her fingernail cuttings on Meredith’s book shelf. 

At first, Meredith simply cleaned up the mess (they were close friends).  But then, it happened again and again.  The third time the officemate entered her office with a nailcutter, Meredith told her, ‘Will you please not leave your fingernail cuttings on the shelf?  Do it again and I will use those cuttings to put a hex on you.’

Embarrassed, the officemate hastily got out of there.  The fingernail cutting incidents never happened again.

If your nasty officemates make a mess of your workplace, stand up for your rights.  It’s your space, after all.  How would THEY feel if you left trash on their desks?  Ask them politely to pick up their mess.  Don’t yell or speak in a loud, reprimanding voice.  Just tell them they messed up your table and that they should clean up.

They make fun of your looks.
You would think that in this day and age people have evolved enough not to tease other people about the way they’re built by Nature.  But that is not so.  Some people prefer to be trapped by the same instincts with which insects operate and that’s by judging others based on their symmetry. 

If your officemates are bad enough to make fun of the way you look, simply ignore them.  I mean, really… majority of the people who make fun of other people’s looks aren’t that goodlooking themselves.  Look around you.  The nastiest are the worst – they sound as if they’ve never even looked in the mirror since they learned to walk.

The key here is not to let people get you down.  So what if you don’t look like a model or a celebrity?  At least 80 percent of the people living in this planet don’t have traffic-stopping looks.  If the teasing continues, just smile and say something like, ‘Sorry I don’t meet your standards.  I just wasn’t born perfect like you’ or ‘I sincerely apologize for not being as perfectly built as you.’

If you think you can get away with it, next time someone teases you about their looks, point out on their one imperfection – their teeth, the shape of their feet, their hairline, their lisp, etc. – and then shoot back a cutting retort.  Everybody has an imperfection, believe me, no matter how goodlooking they are.

Just to make it clear, I’m not advocating cattiness.  Otherwise, you’ll be going down to the nasties’ level.  Do this only when you’re being backed into a corner.  Call them on their own flaws so they’ll realize they’re being unnecessarily mean.  But don’t let this escalate into a fullblown word war.  The key is diplomacy and tact.  They can lose their cool but you shouldn’t.


I will post more tips on handling nasty officemates in the future.  If you’ve faced off with bad co-workers yourself, maybe you’d like to share it and help others who are probably experiencing the same problems.



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