How to manage an impossible coworker

February 3, 2012 at 10:00 am in Family & Relationships, Work & Money by VN Featured Comment

Today’s Featured Comment

Robin Donovan, on How to manage an impossible coworker

I have been in this position many times – with both men and women. I have tried everything – from ignoring it and being a bigger person to attacking them like a screaming howler monkey. All of these experiences have taught me much.

First you have to realize that your impossible coworker is insecure and trying to throw negative attention on you to keep “them” from looking at her flaws. She thinks that if she throws you under the bus “they” will see that she shines. And she’s too stupid to see that it isn’t working. The problem is – it’s working against you. Your boss can’t help you, your co-workers can’t help you. Only you can help you and it’s very freakin’ hard!

Here’s my suggestion.

What you have to do is take control. I have found after many many failed attempts at gaining control that the best way to gain it is to change the dynamic of the situation. This will require enormous focus and preparation on your part – but it will be AWESOME when you see how it works. Here’s how it goes:

The two of you are in a meeting with ten other people, out of nowhere she says “Vicky has done a particularly disappointing job in schedule our upcoming convention.” All eyes turn to you and you feel obligated to defend yourself – big fat mistake. This is what you do: you take a moment (very pregnant pause) you turn to her and slowly and in a low voice you say “Debbie we are both aware that that was an inappropriate comment to make in this meeting – why don’t you come and see me afterward and we can explore why you’re having more and more of these explosive outbursts.” Then you turn back to the meeting as though the last two comments were never made. All negative thoughts are concentrated directly on Debbie. You haven’t made a fool of yourself – you’ve been the grown up.

You have maintained your professionalism and begun a course of behavior modification in Debbie. If you ignore her comments – she wins, if you yell back – she’s cracked your professional shell and brought you down to her level – she wins again. If you change the subject – it’s not about Vicky’s performance it’s about Debbie’s outbursts – you’re in control.

I have killed with this technique – and I can still look at myself in the mirror afterward because I took the high road!

[This comment was originally posted as part of this conversation. ~ Eds.]

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