08 February 2011

Being sick is gross; also, how do you deal with office jerks?

I bet for once I'm the one driving my cube neighbor nuts. It might be an overall stalemate, though, because I'm miserable, too. I'm sure he really enjoys hearing me blow my nose every 37 seconds. At least when I'm trying to clear my nose, I can't hear him talking on the phone. :)

If only I could be this obnoxious while sitting next to the passive-aggressive meanie-head I've been working overtime for the last few days. Then again, it's probably good I never see him. It might be hard to keep from saying the hilarious/cutting things I've been thinking up to say, especially if he actually said some of the things he's written in his emails recently. Am I really working so hard to make a jerk like this look good?

I find myself curious to know if he realizes how awful of a co-worker he is. I hear stories from other people; it seems he treats everyone the same. Does he know the effects of his behavior or is he just awkward (not realizing he's being so mean, difficult, and disrespectful)? I wonder what would happen if I asked him? Would it be worse if he did realize or if he didn't?

How do you confront people like him when you know you have to keep working with them? How do you let them know when their thoughtlessness has crossed a line (especially when you suspect they are actually doing it on purpose) without making your working relationship worse?


  1. I don't know if it transfers at all, but here's how I handled a situation with our neighbors. She's been in the habit of screaming at her boyfriend for extended periods of time at high enough levels that it easily comes through the shared wall of our townhouses. The other night it woke us up at 2am, and I went next door and rang the doorbell until she answered (4 times, I think). When she opened the door she was already on the offensive (she was all warmed up with the screaming thing) and demanded to know why I was hanging on her doorbell at that time of night, even if she had been yelling at her boyfriend. My response was "I know I could have responded differently, but I wanted to just ask nicely. My husband and I were asleep and got woken up, and I really don't want the baby woken up too. So I'm just asking nicely." To which she backed down and apologized, and actually stopped me when she saw me outside a couple days later and apologized some more, and I felt lots better, because I hate it when I feel unsafe in my living space because someone around me doesn't respect my basic needs.

    I was very proud of myself for handling it the way I did because ooooh did I want to just chew her out. I essentially 1) pointed out what the difficulty as I experienced it was without actually naming her as the source of the problem, and 2) emphasized that I was making my request courteously. That meant she didn't need to defend her actions, but rather had an opportunity to show magnanimity. I have no idea whether your co-worker is ignorant, self-centered, or malicious, but if you can very specifically address a recurring problem and ask for a specific change in a way that lets him be the good guy, maybe it would get you somewhere.

  2. This sounds like an excellent strategy. As soon as I free a couple of brain cells from their non-conductive snot prisons, I will put them to strategic use . . . :)