News flash: You won’t like all your colleagues
The Office Coach dispenses advice to deal with bosses and co-workers
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.