Q. One of my co-workers gets extremely irritated whenever I type on my computer. She will turn up the volume on her radio, slam things on her desk, curse at me under her breath and occasionally start singing in a loud voice. I have done everything in my power to type more quietly, but that is almost impossible. How can I resolve this?
A. Based on your description, your hyper-sensitive co-worker is immature at best and mentally disturbed at worst. But regardless of the reason for her disruptive behavior, you should not have to put up with it. Instead of meekly continuing to placate this eccentric woman, give her one clear warning before going to management.
For example: “Mary, we both know that typing is a normal part of my job and that I can’t control the sound of my keyboard. Your angry reactions are interfering with my work, so I need for this to stop. Otherwise, I will have to ask management to intervene.”
If the harassment continues, make good on your promise and talk with your boss or human resources manager. This woman sounds a little unbalanced, so someone in management needs to know about her peculiar behavior.
Q. I am having a lot of issues with my new co-worker. “Pamela” used to work with both my boss and the owner of our business at another company. The three of them have remained friends and frequently go out to lunch together.
Even though I have been here for seven years, Pamela doesn’t seem to value my experience. Whenever I try to help her or explain something, she pays no attention to me. She has also convinced the owner to change some of our long-standing policies.
Although I love my work, I have been very unhappy since Pamela arrived. I don’t want to leave, but I no longer feel supported by my managers. What do you think I should I do?
A. On an emotional level, your unhappiness is understandable. After working closely with your bosses for many years, you are suddenly confronted with an unwelcome interloper who also is their personal friend. This could easily make you feel displaced, resentful and even jealous.
If you think about it rationally, however, you will hopefully see that your colleagues are not actually doing anything wrong. In a small, privately-owned business, people with ties to the owner frequently have greater access and influence. That may not seem fair, but it’s a fact.
Jumping ship is always an option, but since you enjoy your work, perhaps you should first make an effort to adjust to this new reality. Once you modify your own attitude and approach, you may find that others react favorably and relationships improve.
For example, you say that Pamela rejects your offers of assistance, but you don’t say whether training her is your responsibility. If it is not, her chilly response may indicate that she views your comments as interference. If you stop giving advice and simply try to be a friendly colleague, Pamela may eventually respond in kind.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”