I totally lost my cool on a co-worker last week. Let me re-phrase that…he came into my office and yelled at me for something that was his mistake, and I responded by unleashing every ounce of frustration I’ve had with him since I’ve started that job. After all, I am an editor. My job is to edit materials and find errors. I am lucky that I have a very cool boss… because I honestly thought that he would just fire both of us.
During the drive home (the boss had sent me home early), I was about 51% satisfied that I had yelled at my co-worker, and 49% wondering what I could have done to prevent what had just happened. Don’t get me wrong, he deserved a reprimand. I had tried my hardest to maintain my cool until he said, “Why didn’t you just fix this yourself?” and then all hell broke loose. I have to fix something that you did? Do your own job. I mean, right?!
I thought about all of the times that I came home with a bad attitude, all of the nasty text messages that I had sent to my friends complaining about this dude, and every sigh that came out of my mouth every time I looked at his work. I’m not going to lie; yelling at this guy felt pretty good. But part of me was pretty horrified by what had just happened.
So, as I do with all of my problems, I decided to call my dad and talk to him about it. After laughing about the incident for a few minutes, he reminded me this: We can only control how we react to situations. We have no control over other people. As much as I’d like to prevent a situation like that again, the only part of it that I can prevent is to make sure that I don’t explode next time. I can’t correct his work ethic, and I can’t prevent him from making another mistake and him storming into my office like it’s my fault. Pretty comforting, right?
Truthfully, he’s probably not going to storm into my office again because now he is aware that I’m not the type of co-worker that is just going to apologize and do whatever I have to do to get him to leave me alone. I’m a hard worker, and I am polite to everyone in the office. After all, I spend more time with these people than I do with my boyfriend or my friends…I may as well make the most of it.
Simply put, remember that you cannot control how people act and react. If a co-worker is being rude for no reason or trying to take advantage of your work, speak to your boss in confidence about it. Say something like, “I’ve been feeling a little taken advantage of by so-and-so” or “So-and-so has been a little disrespectful to me… could you maybe just keep an eye on that situation for me?” Remember that managers and bosses are people too and part of their job is to make sure that things are running smoothly. If all of their employees are running around screaming at each other, it says something about their managerial skills. They probably don’t want people fighting as much as you do.
If you feel that telling your boss will only make the situation worse, tell your boss that you’re not here to point fingers and be a tattle-tale, but you’re telling him/her because you genuinely want the problem to be resolved. Just ask them to keep an eye on that situation, so if something does happen and the boss notices it and decides to take action, it will look more like the co-worker was caught. Make sense? If this situation is reoccurring, be sure and document these instances so it doesn’t become a matter of “he said/she said.” If your boss is friends with the crazy co-worker, tell the boss anyway. If nothing is done about the situation, talk to your boss’ boss.
As frustrating as the situation may be, also look at it as an opportunity. If your boss is paying attention to this person, it is likely that he/she will notice that this person may not be the employee that they thought they had hired. Look at this as your opportunity to shine. If this person is constantly rude to co-workers and customers/clients, make sure to be more mindful of how YOU treat your co-workers and customers/clients. After that situation with my co-worker, I also mentioned to my boss that I am interested doing more graphic design with the company. Because he is aware that my co-worker is a pretty lazy person, he was willing to let me get into that a bit more.
If you’re wondering how I interact with that co-worker now, to be honest, I don’t really speak to him. I made my feelings about his work ethic known (rather loudly, in fact), so he does his job and I do mine. I am polite whenever I have to speak to him and that is about it. Honestly, it’s just not worth feeling upset and hateful about it…
However, if you’re feeling sexually harassed by a co-worker, or if you feel that this conflict stems from a racial, gender or sexual orientation issue, you should ALWAYS tell your boss immediately. You should NEVER feel personally threatened at work.
How do you deal with crazy co-workers? Let’s hear your co-worker horror stories!