Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Friends Anger Cliques Communication Teamwork Jealousy Jealousy

For the past 3/4 months I have been having issues with a new lady at the office, we used to be friends and without any falling out or fight just drifted apart. I noticed this and to avoid any negativity I addressed this with her, I thought everything was fine. About a month after this discussion I started noticing that she 'forgot' discussions we had had, to the point where I lost my temper (I apologized to everyone the next day). Her excuse was that nothing was 'formalized' in email. While we have always been a very informal workplace I have attempted to 'formalize' all my arrangements from then on. She has now bonded with another lady at the office, to the point that even the upper management is commenting on the fact that they can't pee without each other. It seems that the 2 of them are purposefully excluding me from conversations about projects that I am in charge of, and last week she submitted formal documentation about a project that I participated in without listing me on it at all. I found these documents in the printer room of the office. I know if I confront her about it she will have 'forgotten'. She leaves me to pick up projects that she 'just doesn't have time for' but barely puts in 6 hours a day at the office.

I have spoke to my direct manager about this, and she is sympathetic, but seems to be unable to do anything. Our line manager is aware of the situation and offered to step in, but I am hesitant to involve him in something so petty - I am afraid that it will damage my reputation. I don't know what to do any more, the situation is so tense that my health is starting to suffer. I am 10 years her junior and more valuable to the company, if it is jealousy what can I do? Should I escalate this further? I love my job but am seriously considering packing my bags if this continues.

Please help!

In the first place, losing your temper only generates problems for you. Although you apologized, this incident has probably cast you as the villain. At the same time, if an employee is withholding information in areas where you are in charge, a discussion is clearly warranted, whether such an employee has “forgotten” or not.

Secondly, you should clearly take advantage of your manager’s offer to help. Frankly, he should already be involved in this matter. His role will not necessarily be to deal with your co-worker’s “forgetfulness,” but rather to investigate the situation and rebuild communication, collaboration, and trust in the department. Instead of regarding this matter as petty, it’s a central component of your manager’s job.

Whether this situation is based on jealousy, ostracism, or any other factors, the key step is to address it now. Left unchecked, you’ll end up packing your bags or even having them packed for you.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!