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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!


Join The Conversation
nyxmoxie nyxmoxie 7 years
I usually try to be diplomatic with the person and kill them with kindness. I find that this method works the best for me. If a workplace is ever too toxic, I just leave it. But for the most part just doing the above two have worked out for me in 98% of the situations.
gigly_grl gigly_grl 7 years
One thing I've learned since becoming an adult... no one ACTS like an adult :P
diy diy 8 years
If you can afford to ignore it, then do. Otherwise maybe a brief conversation about it with her might help. Ive had this happen to me also and confronted it using a manager...that helped her Now I do believe in not paying too much attention to situations like this at work, they just eat you up if you do.
kythera kythera 8 years
I've been in situations too where the coworker was out for me, or someone else. The rest of us usually rally for the girl that is being berated. I don't condone that kind of drama at work, so I usually try to nip it in the bud as quick as possible. Most of the time the boss doesn't know. Makes for a more peaceful workplace.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Oy vie!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Myst, and isnt this forum for opinions, of which i gave mine freely?
myystque myystque 8 years
greenapples and CaterpillerGirl--your responses come across as very harsh. It's uncomfortable to have someone treat you poorly at your workplace since you typically spend a large portion of your life there. She's not whining, she's just asking for opinions on how to deal with the situation. Isn't that what this forum is for?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Oh please, This will happen a gazillion times in a job, talk to your supervisor, and ignore it. If it keeps happening file a grievance but if you do nothing, than you cant whine. Its work, not high school, you can do something about it just have some b*lls
greenapples1987 greenapples1987 8 years
stop winning and get over it!!
ladychaos ladychaos 8 years
I have this same issue, except this coworker is my boss' sister-in-law. I could give her a dirty look and get written up, yet she doesn't even get a slap on the wrist for her racist and condescending comments towards me and other coworkers.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I have a girl in my office that does the same thing. She has been at this office several years less than I have, and doesn't have the professional registrations that I have, or the job experience. She became mean and hurtful to me when she was selected to work on my team, and report to me, rather than being equals. I guess I didn't invite her to a meeting (which I was only invited to by my boss, I wasn't going to bring a tag-a-long - I was barely invited) and accused me of trying to keep her out of the loop.. it was unnecessary drama. She has talked bad about me every since, and we went from being friends to not speaking in years. She took some of my good friends in the office with her. I guess she was able to convince them (who are all in a similar situation to her) that I was evil because of my position. It's uncomfortable, and the lunch table can become awkward, but what am I supposed to do? I did nothing to her, but she won't speak to me. Guess it happens everywhere!
skigurl skigurl 8 years
my admin used to do this to me! everyone said she was just jealous because i was a young professional, good education, good looking, dressed well, and was well liked by others and also had a better job than her/earned way more money but was way younger but she stopped before i ever had to say anything and i assume it's because (i know of at least 3 other people who noticed it too) and i assume someone mentioned it to her.... now she's nice as pie to me....but maybe i also finally just proved myself and killed her with kindness, i don't know i think talking to her directly about it could very VERY awkard. i know i never wanted to do that. try killing her with kindness first and then if you have to, say something to her...maybe if it's too awkward to sit her down then have a conversation like "i noticed you shot down this idea from me but supported a similar idea from someone else, do you have a problem with me or something?"
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