A New Trend in the Workplace?


Dear Dharma,

I started a new job about 10 months ago. The office is very small and there are only three other employees. They have worked together for several years and are very clique-y. I have had problems with one co-worker in particular since the day I started – she is hyper-critical of everything that I do and always has negative comments to make about everything, including my appearance. On top of this, she has been snooping through my office and my files when I am away and today I walked in to find her reading the text messages on my cell phone!

We don’t have a supervisor I can speak to about this, only a corporate head office so I am really on my own here. How can I address this situation without causing even more tension at the office?

Betty Boop

Dear Betty,

Okay, seriously!  What is with people going through other people’s phones?  Is this a new trend in the workplace?  No, really!  What is going on here?

So here’s the thing, Betty.  You either suck this crap up, or you create a little tension at the office.  There’s really no way to address your co-worker without that being part of the initial result, but so what?  Isn’t there already tension in the office, what with her insulting you and snooping through your personal belongings?  Isn’t it time to maybe redirect that tension where it belongs, which is with her, non?

She’s the one in the wrong, and it sucks that you think that by confronting her you are the one creating the problem, and not the other way around…

I’m not suggesting you fly into a rage and push her down the stairs or anything – I’m just saying the next time she does any of the things you have mentioned above that you immediately take her aside and tell her you don’t appreciate her constant negativity and the ongoing invasion of your privacy.  Let her know you are simply here to do a job, and her behaviour is making that very difficult for you.  Also, I might point blank ask her why she is treating you this way, and then keep your lips very tightly together in a way that makes it clear she needs to answer you. The more you talk, the less room she has to be accountable.

Bullies almost always sit down when you stand up and let them know their behaviour is not acceptable. I really think that if you call her out this way, she will be so sugary sweet to you going forward that you almost won’t believe that’s all it took.

Good luck, Betty, and please let us know how things go!

Also, to see a similar situation, check out One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.


phone 1


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