My friend is having problems at her new job with a few co-workers that are being inappropriate (never in front of the boss) and she is calling me a lot. She was learning some things on the computer and one of the co-workers said, “You don’t know that yet, boy are you slow!” and then laughed and said, “Hey, I’m just being honest!”
From my friend’s description, this person isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Also, she tells me that when the boss comes around they say things like, “Are you figuring it out yet, have you worked out those problems? Don’t worry the job will get easier, don’t give up now!”…..when she didn’t state that she had any problems….making the boss think she is struggling when she isn’t. She is simply ignoring them and I thought it would be better to set a boundary and say, “Don’t”…she says if she does that they will know that they are getting to her.
Do you have any words of wisdom? Thanks.
Friend of a Friend
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY FRANKE JAMES
Dear Friend of a Friend,
This sounds like the nastiness from a schoolyard! Your friend can do a few things to fight back:
1. Be Confident! Be Strong!
We can’t be looking to others for reassurance as to how smart, pretty, talented etc, etc, we are. The world won’t tell us. Especially with these co-workers! She needs to develop a thick skin — and appreciate all the good things she knows are true. (The teasing I faced in high school was unbelievable!)
2. The Boss is not stupid (we hope)
Most Bosses clue into these tactics by employees and label the troublemakers ‘juvenile’. I doubt whether the Boss is fooled by their tricks, but he probably can’t be bothered to intervene in every skirmish.
3. New Employees have an advantage!
As a trainee, she is NEW! The Boss knows that. She can’t be expected to know the job inside out from the start. It all takes time. I would advise your friend to ignore the co-workers’ taunts, AND most importantly find ways to deliver the message to the Boss (one-on-one, accidental elevator meeting, quick email, water cooler, handwritten note etc.) that she is working hard, learning fast, and loving (liking?) the job. She should use every opportunity to shine. And don’t worry about repeating herself. It’s music to Bosses ears to hear the words, “I love my job! Thank you for giving me this opportunity.” (or as close as she can get with honesty)
Good luck! Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Franke James, MFA
Editor & Founder, Office-Politics.com
Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.
Publication note: This letter was originally published in August, 2005. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.