Workplace Warfare

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I love my job, but work isn’t always fun. Especially when things aren’t meshing well with your fellow co-workers. T is about my age, and has worked with us for many months now, and is hardworking and funny. Except when something bothers her. Which seems to be a lot of the time. Little things easily aggravate her, slow drivers make her see red, and watch out if it’s just a bad day – you become her verbal punching bag.

On top of this, it’s become difficult to see where my job ends and hers begins. Technically speaking, she’s the assistant to the assistant (me), but my boss has been taking to treating us as the same person. This is problematic because some days I catch her doing my job for me, and not necessarily doing it well.

I hemmed and hawed over what to do about this for a while. I asked my mom for advice, I complained in hushed whispers to other co-workers, and silently fumed, but this was getting me nowhere.

Getting my professional game face on!

Getting my professional game face on!

Finally, I did what I should have done all along: I asked my boss if she and I could have a sit down. To prepare, I made a list of everything that was not working well for our department, and some possible solutions. I tried not to focus on specific incidents that had happened, but larger, overall trends. This meeting wasn’t about my feelings, it was about how we could better our office and improve cohesion.

When we chatted, it was a private talk between just my boss and I. I broached every subject from an angle of ‘this is what I noticed, how can I help improve this?’. The meeting was incredibly productive, with my boss listening intently to my issues and promising to make changes on her end.

Of course, there were changes to be made on my side as well. She pointed out many factors I hadn’t even noticed before, little things that had helped get us to where we were now. I tried not to take it to heart, though. Again, this wasn’t personal, it was professional.

Know that like in your personal life, the relationships in your professional life can and will be complex at times. There will be friends made, and there will be enemies made. Unlike your personal life, though, your professional life has to remain just that – professional. Had I punched T in the face following her volley of rude remarks, I would have been fired.

Your job is never to suffer; if things are so bad in your office that you consistently hate going to work, you might want to dust off that resume and find something else. If you’re having trouble with only a couple people, remember that you’re there to enrich your professional life and to help your company succeed, not to make BFFs with everyone and the receptionist. If you can, keep your distance, but more importantly – keep your cool!
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