The sad truth is, throughout your life, you’re bound to run into a Regina George or two. In grade school, she was the brat in pigtails who could turn the whole class against you with one rumour-spreading whisper. Her very presence filled high school halls with teenage misery. She’s the snotty department store sales girl, the obnoxious drama-causing friend of a friend or your ex’s gossiping new girlfriend. Usually, in adult life, this playground bully in grown-up’s clothing can be easily avoided, or even tolerable in small doses. But what happens when you find yourself working with one? Here’s our advice on how to handle sharing office space with a mean girl:
Most of the time, the nasty behaviour of others isn’t anyone’s fault but their own. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re not contributing to office drama. Are you being as polite as you can be? Are you skipping the petty gossip sessions? When you don’t like someone, it can be pretty hard to disguise your true feelings, but one of the worst things you can do is make an enemy at work”because whether you like it not, this is someone who you’ll be spending a lot of time around.
When you’re on the clock, it’s important to always maintain a professional attitude. Just because the nightmare-in-pumps to your left is acting like a child”whether she’s talking behind your back within earshot or shooting you dirty looks”doesn’t mean you should lower yourself to her level. Keep in mind that you’re always on your boss’ radar, and by keeping the junior high behaviour in check, you’ll end up looking all the better for it.
When a situation is uncomfortable, sometimes the best thing you can do is to try and avoid it as much as you can. Sure, you can’t get out of sharing breathing space altogether, but you can aim to limit one-on-one time. When you absolutely have to talk to a catty coworker, make sure it’s in a group setting or via email. Keep your distance from her cubicle, and lower the risk of things going from bad to worse. The less you have to deal with her, the better.
If your workmate seems bent on causing Jersey Shore-worthy drama, it may be time to face things head on. This is a delicate matter, and requires a lot of tongue biting, but simply clearing the air by tactfully explaining that you don’t appreciate her attitude may be the first step towards getting her to back off.
Bring it to the top
If all else fails, and your pencil-skirted bully is making office life complete hell for you, turn to your superior for help. Whether this means talking to your manager/supervisor or even going straight to HR, if her antics are disrupting you from getting any work done, then you really have no choice but to bring it to their attention. You’re not a tattle-tale, and just leaving the situation as is when it’s coming between you and your job can only lead to a much bigger mess (like getting fired).
This is great advice, but what if your superiors say that you’re just being paranoid about the troublesome coworker, because she has them all snowed, and they think that she’s an angel? What if she’s rearranged the truth, and has everybody thinking that you’re the bully, because you’re trying to defend your position? What if they even imply that your job could be in jeopardy because they don’t want you to bring it up, or “make waves”?