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Tips For Dealing With an Office Bully Coworker

by Joan Lloyd

Dear Joan:

I work with a person who continues to do everything possible to discredit me. Sabotage is her "game" and she's good at it!

She has taken credit for my ideas, observations and some of my work; she shares confidential information about me (resume etc.) with her best friend down the hall, has openly discredited me to other staff and tries at every opportunity to make me look like a dismal dork at my job - something I'm not and have never been!

My supervisor always says he will talk with the co-worker, but when he does, she turns up the sabotage tactics and her unprofessional conduct is nasty.

Because my supervisor has dropped the ball, I have talked with him and told him that I've decided to confront her each time I become aware of her most recent attempt to get me fired or written up. He encourages that action, because he's basically afraid of this co-worker and he hates any type of upheaval or working directly with staff or Human Resources to correct inappropriate behavior. What he perceives as any kind of conflict is his Achilles Heel.

Her personality defects and psychological problems are affecting my work life

My co-worker knows this and has taken advantage of his inability to correct the problems she creates. When I do confront my co-worker, she backs off for a few days, but does not completely stop, and when she thinks she can turn the heat on again, she does so.

I believe her basic insecurities and what I think are traits of someone who has low self-esteem could very well be some of the underlying causes of her unprofessional conduct. However, her personality defects and psychological problems are affecting my work life.

Joan, please don't tell me to look for another job. I'm retiring next year right after my 62nd birthday, which is less than 14 months away.

I have a certain amount of pity for the next administrative assistant who takes my place. In the meantime, I will keep on keeping on, but wonder if I should give my replacement an advantage I never had - the knowledge that when you have an office bully in the bushes, you need to nip the sabotage in the bud, right off the mark, probation period notwithstanding.


You sound wise and psychologically "together", so why let the insecure little sniper get to you?

After all, your boss - conflict averse though he may be - supports you. You do good work. Your boss would not fire you (if he hasn't confronted the sniper, he certainly isn't going to take you on, with 14 months to go!).

Girl, you are almost out of there, so you can laugh all the way to retirement!

Here are some options:

  • Ignore her completely and laugh at her every time she pulls one of her ineffective stunts.
  • Ask your manager if it would be helpful to "document" her inappropriate behavior for his future use. (If nothing else, it will make you feel better.)
  • Keep on confronting her relentlessly, in a calm and self-assured way. Don't let her see you sweat!

Regarding whether to tip off your replacement, here's what I would do. I would give your replacement an overview of each person in the department, as a natural part of her orientation.

When you get to the sniper, calmly say, "She has been trying to sabotage me with our manager. He is uncomfortable and doesn't want to confront it but he supports me and agrees that she is the one with the problem. She may just have it out for me for some personal reason and she may never bother you. But just in case, watch your back."

Then drop it. Don't try to play your own little game of trying to get the new person on your side. Stay professional and above board and the new person -if she's smart -won't be wooed by either of you.

Joan Lloyd newest workshop for supervisors and managers, Strategies to Resolve and Reduce Employee and Team Conflict, provides real-world solutions for real-life situations.

Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership training, conflict resolution between teams or individuals, internal consulting skills training for HR professionals and retreat facilitation. Clients report results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed workforce.

Joan Lloyd has earned her C.S.P. (certified speaking professional) designation from the National Speakers Association and speaks to corporate audiences, as well as trade & professional associations across the country. Reach her at (800) 348-1944, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com.

About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
Joan Lloyd's management, career & job hunting tools
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by "Special Delivery"

Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at mailto:info@joanlloyd.com to: submit your question, for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site.
Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.

Some Related Articles:

Controlling Anger When Someone Yells At You
How to Deal With Workplace Bullies
What to Do About a Manipulating Coworker
Dealing With Saboteurs in the Workplace
You Can't Play Win-Win With a Bully Until...
Dealing With the Workplace Sniper
What to Do About Office Gossip
The Co-Worker From Hell
How to Avoid a Verbal Fight
Want to Grab Them By the Throat and Knock Them Senseless?


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