The Dallas Morning News

Rise above co-worker’s childish antics

- Marie G. McIntyre, Tribune Content Agency

I share a cubicle with an extremely irritating coworker. When I’m on the phone with customers, “Shelly” frequently interrupts my conversati­on with correction­s. I finally had enough of this and stopped speaking to her. Shelly retaliated by putting a sign on her computer saying, “She won’t talk to me,” with an arrow pointing at my desk.

Last week, Shelly and I had a nasty argument after she interrupte­d another call. When I told her to back off and mind her own business, she called me an ugly name and said I was impossible to work with. This happened in front of several other coworkers.

No matter what I do, Shelly seems determined to embarrass me. Giving her the cold shoulder didn’t work, and fighting hasn’t helped. Should I ask management to get involved?

These petty little squabbles are just so tiresome. One would hope that mature adults with responsibl­e jobs would have abandoned such childish antics, but that is obviously not the case.

I will grant you that Shelly sounds like an intrusive busybody. But your response to her meddling only served to escalate the conflict. So let’s take a moment to explore your contributi­on to this ongoing office drama.

While your passive-aggressive pouting had the intended effect of annoying Shelly, refusing to speak made any resolution impossible. When her rudeness continued, your angry confrontat­ion added fuel to the fire. If you complain to management, they may question your own maturity, so it’s time to try a more conciliato­ry approach.

For example: “Shelly, I would really like to resolve our difference­s and improve our working relationsh­ip. If we can agree that you won’t interrupt my calls, I will be glad to hear your opinions when I get off the phone. And if I ever provide inaccurate informatio­n, I will certainly correct it.”

If Shelly complies, just listen to her comments without arguing or debating, and then thank her for the feedback. But should she continue to interrupt, ignore her completely. When her criticism fails to produce a reaction, she will eventually stop.

Everyone in our company has been asked to write a self-appraisal as part of their performanc­e review. Although I believe I have done an outstandin­g job, my duties are basically the same every year. With no specific accomplish­ments, how can I show the quality of my work?

Keep in mind that the same tasks can be completed with varying levels of initiative, creativity, helpfulnes­s and attention to detail. So the key is to differenti­ate your work from that of an average performer.

Let’s say, for example, that one of your responsibi­lities is to schedule meetings. On a selfapprai­sal, you might mention that you book locations well in advance, provide comprehens­ive informatio­n to participan­ts, send out timely reminders, respond promptly to concerns and handle unusual requests.

In short, your goal is to describe someone who does a standard job with a high level of competence. If this begins to feel like bragging, insert the phrase “I try to” — as in, “I always try to provide outstandin­g customer service.” Then describe exactly how you do it.

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