News flash: You won’t like all your col­leagues

The Of­fice Coach dis­penses ad­vice to deal with bosses and co-work­ers

The Hamilton Spectator - - CAREERS - MARIE G. MCIN­TYRE

Q: One of my co-work­ers drives me ab­so­lutely crazy. “Mon­ica” is very emo­tional and dis­likes any sort of change. She al­ways seems to have some type of med­i­cal is­sue and con­stantly talks about her vis­its to the doc­tor. When­ever Mon­ica be­gins speak­ing, I im­me­di­ately start to cringe.

Al­though I love my job, Mon­ica is so ag­gra­vat­ing that I no longer look for­ward to go­ing to work. I took my con­cerns about her to man­age­ment, but so far they haven’t done any­thing. What should I do now?

A: If you’re ask­ing what you should do about Mon­ica’s per­son­al­ity, the an­swer is noth­ing. Since you haven’t men­tioned any work-re­lated is­sues, the only prob­lem seems to be that you find her an­noy­ing. So what you re­ally need to do is ad­just your own at­ti­tude.

Like many folks, you ap­pear to have the un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tion that you are en­ti­tled to work only with com­pat­i­ble col­leagues. How­ever, the odds of your lik­ing all co­work­ers are slim. Af­ter all, you don’t get to pick th­ese peo­ple. You must be able to co­ex­ist peace­fully with who­ever man­age­ment de­cides to hire.

If Mon­ica were in­ter­fer­ing with your work, you could ap­pro­pri­ately take that prob­lem to man­age­ment. But as it is, you must sim­ply fig­ure out how to tol­er­ate an emo­tional hypochon­driac. And if oth­ers find some of your traits ir­ri­tat­ing, they must learn to tol­er­ate you as well.

Look to fu­ture

Q: Three years ago, I asked the owner of our busi­ness why she al­lowed some em­ploy­ees to run er­rands on com­pany time, take two-hour lunches and do al­most noth­ing while the rest of us were cov­ered up with work. Need­less to say, she was not pleased. A few weeks later, my job ti­tle was changed and my salary was re­duced.

In ev­ery per­for­mance re­view, the owner min­i­mizes my con­tri­bu­tions, even though I al­ways work full days while her favourites con­tinue to goof off. When I have tried to apol­o­gize for my pre­vi­ous com­plaints, she twists my words to make them sound neg­a­tive. I think she would like me to quit, but I refuse to give her the sat­is­fac­tion.

De­spite the low pay and bad re­views, I have worked hard for this com­pany for 14 years. Is there any way to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion or should I just ac­cept things the way they are?

A: You seem to be ig­nor­ing the ob­vi­ous third choice. In­stead of stub­bornly stay­ing put or vainly hop­ing for a turn­around, how about look­ing for a bet­ter place to work? Be­cause the owner com­pletely con­trols this busi­ness, noth­ing there is likely to change. And 14 years is a long time to feel mis­treated and un­ap­pre­ci­ated.

To break the habit of re­sent­fully ru­mi­nat­ing about the past, try shift­ing your at­ten­tion to­ward the fu­ture. Make a list of your skills, iden­tify com­pa­nies that might value them and be­gin ex­plor­ing those pos­si­bil­i­ties. Al­though a job search may seem like a daunt­ing prospect, re­mem­ber that once you leave, your dis­cour­ag­ing boss and her pet em­ploy­ees will no longer have any place in your world.

Dy­ing boss de­serves re­spect

Q: One of the two part­ners in the law firm where I work has a ter­mi­nal ill­ness. “Jim” is 75 and needs an oxy­gen tank yet he in­sists on com­ing to work ev­ery day. He does ab­so­lutely noth­ing ex­cept watch videos on his com­puter and cre­ate dis­rup­tion in the of­fice. I’m aware of Jim’s ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause I’ve been his as­sis­tant for 37 years.

Even though Jim has no sig­nif­i­cant billings, he ex­pects to re­ceive a full pay­cheque. With Jim milk­ing the firm for ev­ery­thing he can get, other em­ploy­ees haven’t been given the raises they de­serve. We’re just stuck in a hold­ing pat­tern un­til he dies. What should be done about this?

A: Let me get this straight: Af­ter be­ing this gen­tle­man’s as­sis­tant for al­most four decades, you re­sent the fact that he wants to keep work­ing dur­ing his ill­ness. You are also up­set be­cause he takes money from his own busi­ness to help with ex­penses in his old age. Now you are ea­gerly await­ing his death so that you can get a raise. Wow.

If this hor­ren­dously cal­lous at­ti­tude re­flects pent-up anger at a dif­fi­cult boss, then you should have left a long time ago. If you chose to en­dure an in­tol­er­a­ble job for 37 years, you have no one to blame but your­self. And if you stayed be­cause you were gen­er­ously com­pen­sated, you are be­ing ex­tremely un­grate­ful.

I hope Jim finds some so­lace in hav­ing a fa­mil­iar place to spend his last days. Should his ac­tions be­gin to harm the busi­ness, those is­sues must be ad­dressed by the other part­ner. You are not an owner, so such de­ci­sions are sim­ply above your pay­grade.

When Jim’s pres­ence be­comes an­noy­ing or dis­rup­tive, try to re­mem­ber that he’s tired and sick and scared. If you can truly imag­ine what that must feel like, this ex­pe­ri­ence might ac­tu­ally make you a more com­pas­sion­ate per­son.

The odds of your lik­ing all co-work­ers are slim, writes the Of­fice Coach, Marie G. McIn­tyre.

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