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Ask Savvy: My Co-Worker Has It in For Me!

Dear Savvy,

I’m having an issue with one of my co-workers, and could use some help. I’m not sure what I’ve ever done to this girl, but she’s got it in for me! We’ve never had a direct confrontation, and there haven’t been any incidents I can remember that would have put me on her bad side.

But obviously she sees things differently. Her responses to me are always terse at best, and if her stifled giggles are any indication, she’s IMing with other co-workers about me. In meetings, she always makes a point to shoot down any ideas I suggest, although she doesn’t seem to do the same to other co-workers.

I feel like I’m back in high school, and this is completely affecting the quality of my work life! What gives, and how should I deal with this?

To hear my advice,


Savvy says: In situations like these, addressing the issue directly is usually best. Even if you’re not sure what it is, your co-worker obviously has an issue with you — she may feel threatened or intimidated by you, she could feel that your boss or other co-workers favor you, or maybe your personalities just clash. Whatever the case, there’s no reason it should turn into a big issue and get in the way of you getting your job done.

Ask your co-worker if you can schedule a brief meeting with her, and tackle the issue head-on. You could go to your boss (or HR representative) first and ask her to speak to your co-worker, but I find it’s best to try to discreetly solve a personal issue like this yourself before bringing others into the fray. If you get the sense that the conversation could get ugly, however, do feel free to ask your boss or HR rep to sit in on the meeting — it’s up to you to gauge the situation.

Keep the conversation professional and nonconfrontational. Let your co-worker know that you’ve noticed she tends to be hypercritical of your ideas, and that you haven’t been getting the greatest vibe from her. Ask if there’s anything she’d like to address or give you feedback on, and try to be receptive to anything she has to say. In my experience, once someone is called out on behavior like this, they tend to lose a little steam. Now that her rude behavior is out in the open and you’ve let her air any grievances she has, you should both be able to get on with your (work) lives!


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