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Handling Nasty Officemates III September 11, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Here are more ways to handle those nasty officemates:

Don’t take the bad-mouthing sitting down.
Gossip will never die in an office environment, so just accept it as a fact of life.  If you become the target of an especially nasty gossip, gather the facts carefully.  What is the gossip about?  Who else is involved?  Who is spreading it and who’s participating?  How long has the gossip been around?  Was there a particular incident that started it?

Once you get your facts, it’s time to decide on your plan of action.  First, consider whether or not the bad-mouthing incident is worth all your trouble.  If it’s not true, it’s bound to die anyway.  If it is, it’s up to you whether to own up to it or not.

If the gossip is especially damaging, next time someone mentions it, put a stop to it at once.  If someone says, ‘Did you hear what they have been saying about you?  They said…’  Listen to it carefully and then say, ‘That’s not true.  Who has been saying that?’ 

Say this calmly.  If you raise your voice or become semi-hysterical, you’ll seem like you’re protesting too much – something that some narrowminded individuals often mistake as an admission of guilt. 

Once you get your facts straight, go to the source and ask to talk to them.  Don’t back them into a corner, though.  Say something like, ‘Hey Angie.  I heard that I have been doing something I didn’t know I did.  Do you know anything about this?  What’s going on?’  If they admit to the gossip, ask them where they heard it from or why they have been saying what they’ve been saying about you. 

Be calm and businesslike.  Let them know you’re serious about knowing who is spreading the gossip about you and why.  Make the necessary corrections and then step away from it.  If they stop talking about it, well and good.  Don’t open the topic again.  If they keep yakking, talk to them again or go to your supervisor or manager.  That’ll teach them that you won’t take any more cr*p from anybody.

Do you get shunned or don’t get invited to outings?
There is always a reason why people do the things they do.  If they keep you out of their circle, ask yourself first, ‘Do I need to belong there?’  Co-workers tend to form cliques – small groups of friends and co-workers who have similar interests or job descriptions. 

That explains why Accounting people don’t often congregate with HR or the IT department and vice versa.  It’s not always this way but in many cases, you’ll see this happening.  If the reason is that you don’t belong to the same department, then that’s a very shallow reason to worry about.  A particular clique may be hanging out together because they simply have similar things to discuss.  If you join them from time to time, it’s probably okay.

However, if the snubbing is deliberate and inexplicable, approach one of them and ask why you’re being excluded.  Say something like, ‘I really wanted to join the games committee.  Is the number of members already sufficient?  I’m a good games host or I could help out on the costumes.  Let me know if you need an extra hand.’ 

If they don’t want you in, they’ll tell you why.  Some people just simply believe that they’re better than you are and you simply do not belong to their ‘level’, whatever that is.

If the shunning involves social events such as private group outings or after-office drinks, is it really such a loss to you?   If it is, next time a similar event comes up, ask about it in such a way that other people are not pressured into including you.  Say ‘Hey, I heard you guys are going out later.  Is it exclusive or could I tag along?  It’s okay if I can’t come along, though.  I just asked because I thought it would be fun.’  That way they don’t have to commit and you don’t have to sound desperate.

Your officemate steals your ideas.
Credit-snatching is a gross violation of trust among officemates and co-workers.  I will be writing a separate post about this subject, so just watch for it.

Share your horror story: 

Got into a skirmish with a nasty officemate?  How did you handle it?  Share your story here and help others learn from you.

Or you could check out these older links if you can’t get enough of nasty officemates:

Handling Nasty Officemates II

and

Handling Nasty Officemates I

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