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  • #389057
    Steph
    Participant

    I’m thankful for many things in life. I try my best to be mindful of others and be a positive influence in this world by my actions and words. But, it is hard to stay strong in some situations.

    I’ve started a new job at a small business. It’s about 15 workers total. However, there are just three of us (me included) in one department and we share an office/workspace. I am the new one, one girl has been there about 2.5 years, and the other has been there 8 months. We are all in the same position, there is no hierarchy except the owner who is above all of us.

    A bunch of red flags started popping up within the first month or two. Namely, the first coworker gossips, complains, and even spread damaging rumors about the other staff, etc. Both are negative about LIFE and generally never have a good thing to say about anything. I kind of felt like they were trying to pull me into the gossip and baiting me with questions.

    This isn’t my vibe and I tried to slowly back away from them. Initially they tried to pull me back in. Then one confronted me about ‘being so quiet’. I’ve started listening to music with earphones now and maybe they’ve been offended. So, they’ve gotten passive aggressive with a lot of comments. Recently, there has been two confrontations.

    Confrontation 1: The first coworker says I need to do some thing differently. I ask her why (because it does not affect her job directly). She can’t provide a reason. So, I keep doing things my way. She approaches me again a few weeks later, hostile, says I need to do it “her way”. I ask her for a reason. She lies and says that the other department needs it that way. (I know this is a lie because after the first time, I asked them in the other department if there was a problem with the way I do things). I confront her about the lie. She later goes to the other department and finds an ally. She has that person come and inform me that things need to be done “her way” thus contradicting the previous conversation that I had with them.

    Confrontation 2: We share an office space. There are two sliding doors that separate our office from the hallways and rest of the business. I’ve noticed that the first coworker is extremely concerned with closing the doors or keeping them closed in general. However, there have been occasions when I close the door to eat something or take a private call, and she gets up and will open the door immediately and walk out (leaving it open). It feels like a passive aggressive power struggle. I close the door, she gets up and opens it (leaving it open). I open it walk outside, and she slams it closed immediately.

    Anyway, both coworkers have been consistently closing the doors when I am carrying things (sometimes heavy) between the offices. You obviously need a free hand to slide the doors. I obviously need the door open, and I have both hands occupied. On a few occasions they’ve been maybe five steps in front of me, I’m carrying something, and they will enter and close the door. It happened again today. I nearly dropped what I was carrying trying to open the door and could’ve injured myself. The worst part was that, when I looked, they were in there laughing. It was disturbing. It feels like it was intentional.

    I confronted them and asked for a resolution. I said I will be mindful of closing the door and try to keep it closed unless necessary; however, I asked that if I open it to go carry things between spaces, they not close it on me. The response was: “Why don’t you ask us if it’s ok to open the door next time?” Not sure if I’m overreacting, but I told them “I’m an adult, and I don’t need to ask permission to keep the door open in the office if I’m taking things back and forth.” They said “We are a majority (two against one) and we want the doors closed.” I told them that I will try to keep that in mind and make an effort to close the doors, but I also said “This isn’t a democracy. It’s an office. We’re coworkers. I have just as much of a right to have them open as you do to have them closed. Let’s be professional about this.” They reacted strongly to the ‘let’s be professional’. My intention was “lets be professional” meaning ‘let’s be good coworkers to each other’. But, they asked “You think we’re not being professional?!?” Then they went crazy, said all kinds of personal attacks. Accused me of being unprofessional because I don’t say ‘hello’ to them first, etc.

    Not really sure what to do. I like the job otherwise. I don’t really want to go to the boss unless I have to. I’m pretty sure the boss has a good relationship with the first coworker, btw. Plus, it might be worth mentioning that it’s almost December and both of the girls are supposed to leave in March. Their contracts end and they had said they will not stay.

    I kind of feel like I should just grin and bear it until March, but not sure if I should set any boundaries or talk with the boss even. Most days I am able to ignore them and do my job happily, but it seems like the first coworker is upping the passive aggression in the hopes of getting a reaction out of me. It’s really got me down. I’ve been through a lot of rough relationships in the past and part of my therapy was about setting healthy boundaries and ‘standing up for myself’. Sigh. I know the universe has some reason for brining these two into my path. I’m not sure what to do.

    #389152
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Steph:

    I just noticed your thread for the first time, and will read and reply when I am back to the computer in about 13 hours from now.

    anita

    #389153
    Steph
    Participant

    Thank you! I have seen your helpful advice on here and look forward to your thoughts.

    #389237
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Steph:

    It seems like you hit the “report” feature (for inappropriate content) by mistake when you posted last, and therefore I was unable to reply to you since you posted last, Nov 27.

    I read your original post and it reads to me to be true to the reality you’ve been experiencing at work, as in no exaggerations on your part. It reads like a case of a Workplace Bullying.

    Reading your account, I was reminded of something I witnessed a few years ago during a County Fair: there were three pigs in a pig pen. Two of the pigs looked alike. The third pig was bigger and had lighter skin. The two similar pigs kept poking the third pig who kept accommodated the two bully pigs by moving to wherever it thought they wanted him to move. The two bully pigs were never satisfied with the bullied pig’s passive accommodation, and kept poking him relentlessly. It was clear to me that their motivation was not to have the bullied pig move away to any particular location, but to keep bullying him endlessly.

    Similarly, I think that if you accommodate your two workplace bullies, they will never be satisfied and they will keep bullying you all the way to March 2022, their last day at work. I suggest that you do not accommodate them, that you will indeed stand up for yourself, that you don’t submit. The more you submit, the more aggressive they are likely to be.

    anita

     

    #389248
    Steph
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thank you so much for post! It was a good analogy with a clear message. A friend of mine that I had spoken with also suggested being direct with the coworkers and even talking to my boss for support, too.

    I spoke with my boss about the situation first, and he told me that there had already been complaints from others about the coworkers. That’s why they hired me! They wanted someone different. He told me not to worry and offered his support in case it was needed.

    Reading your post and talking to my friend gives me confidence. I feel empowered to stand up for myself this time! Thank you πŸ™‚

    #389274
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Steph:

    You are very welcome. My analogy does read appropriate, being that you are different from the two bullies/co-workers (“They wanted someone different”), different and better. So, protect the one who is better, stand up for her and ask for your boss’s backup when you need it. Also, post here again anytime you need to, if you do.

    anita

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