Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Professional Advice Needed

I need advice on dealing with a coworker.  Let me preface:  I like 98-99% of the people I meet.  There is always something I find that I like in people.  I do not like this coworker.  He tries to pretend like he's my boss or at least above me.  He's condescending and likes others to know that he's above them.  He looks down on blue collar workers, a fact that I tend to take personally.  He tries to set up meetings with me because he wants me to know that he's in control.

Not only is he not my boss, he doesn't even work in the same department that I do.  We do work at the same location and are expected to work together periodically on different things.  I am very good at my job and he is not but could be in the future.  I don't have respect for how he works because he wants everyone else to do the hard work and he wants to step in to take credit.

I don't expect that I will ever like him.  However, I can work well with people that I don't like if I respect them.  I tend to respect others that are good at their jobs and try their best.  If they're not good at their jobs, I at least expect a friendly attitude in the workplace.

How does one deal with this type of personality?  I look at this with an attitude that I need personal growth to deal with him.  But how?


  1. He's threatened by you!!! Have a talk with him and mention exactly what you said above..

  2. I agree with HS, he probably feels threatened by you. Does he do this same thing (set up meetings, etc) with your other co-workers or just you? It doesn't sound like a passive approach to this guy will work. You might just have to bluntly put him in his place one of these days soon. Does he report to your boss? If not, can you talk with your boss for advice on about how best to handle it?

  3. ignore him unless you are working with him, and when you are working with him, work your way. you don't have to accept all his meetings...just ignore him. be light and breezy. maybe don't say he's not good at his job - that's my only critique

  4. I would ask HR to explain exactly what our relationship is, telling that with his attitude, he assumes he is your boss.

    Who does he think picks up his garbage?--blue collar workers. He must be trying to escape his background. I would express gratitude for all the people who make your business run--janitors, maintenance men, etc.

  5. I have more questions than answers. Is his attitude recognized by others, particularly your manager? If so, I would continue to be above board professional & not get dragged down into this. It reflects very well on an employee when they can navigate challenging coworkers well

  6. The next time he tries to set a meeting with you, ask what needs to be discussed.
    Once he tells you, you can say something like, well I get that you are looking for some help on this, but I am pretty busy with my own responsibilities. Since I don't work for you, my responsibilities must be met before I can spend time on something else. Perhaps there is an assistant who has some time to help you sooner?
    This covers...I have important duties, you can't run over me, sorry you need help to do your job and I am not an assistant. No fuss, no muss.

  7. My .02...Do not involve HR.. That would reflect poorly on you, not him, and may make the relationship even more tense. I agree with the poster who said make sure the meetings have clear objectives before you accept, and then go through a conversation on "roles and responsibilities" relevant to whatever assignments you have to work on together... Being very clear on your roles and accountabilities and proactive to identify his (Make him admit the "lines") and document the heck out of each meeting, cc'ing your boss and his on your agreements of what's what and what your deadlines are. Let your bosses know how great you are working together and how pleased you are with the accountabilities (and send that note before he does). If you own the relationships on high, he may get that he can't push you around. Good luck!

  8. I am a firm believer in clear and open communication. Trying talking directly to him to resolve things. Don't be mean or nasty, just direct. If that doesn't work, take it to the next level if he is causing difficulty for you in accomplishing your job duties.

  9. I worked with a newly hired department head like this a while back. He was smarmy, lazy, and underhanded. His chief skill was to manipulate other people into doing his work and exploding at "underlings" when they seemingly let him down. That included the staff in my department. The best part of his condescending to me was that I was head of a department that brought in most of the company's revenue and he was head of a department of none that was only a cost center, but he acted like our roles were reversed and demanded that I do work for him constantly.

    How I dealt with it:
    1. I made sure that my boss saw things my way. I described the behavior and my assessment of it as unprofessional overreach, and she agreed completely. Knowing that, I was free to not take his crap as long as I was careful about how I did it.
    2. I did NOT involve HR because there was no legitimate reason to. This was on the level of bad interpersonal relationships and HR doesn't have a role in dealing with that other than the potential abusive behavior.
    3. Despite the fact that he and I clashed, I made sure that I was the one dealing with him, not my staff, so if he jumped on them, I was there to back them up and defend them against his lies. I had to do this in meetings with plenty of other higher-ups.
    4. Always maintain an outward look of calm. As a woman being railroaded by a man, the absolute worst thing in terms of "winning" was looking like I was going to lose my temper. Total double standard but it was important anyway because I made sure he never had that to use as ammunition against me. He could talk about me behind my back all he wanted but no one would ever agree with him that I was the unprofessional one of the two of us.
    5. When he wanted work done, I would always push back with a holding pattern answer: I've got your request and will let you know if / when it can be accommodated. I would double check whether this was something that we were truly expected to do and even if it was, I'd make sure to push back on his "deliver it now" demands so that my department wasn't overwhelmed with their work plus his 20% extra work. Again this only works if your boss has your back.
    6. I was firm and pleasant but I wasn't NICE. I didn't go out of my way to greet him or be friends with him because I'd observed how he treated the people who were acting friendly with him and it wasn't worth the effort. Not that he was a disloyal friend, just that he perceived any friendliness as weakness and he'd work on using that person even more.
    7. When we had clashes, I was direct with him about the situation and the need to focus on moving forward. I did not cooperate with his attempts to make it about him and his needs.

    This was a very him vs me approach but it had to be if I didn't want to be inadvertently made into his staff, even informally. It's not my fault that he and I "couldn't" work seamlessly like I could with other people, I know quite clearly where the fault lies here and it's entirely with him. He created the situation so I dealt with it the best way possible that let me get the work done, without giving him an inch from which point he could take a mile.

    I used to hear from other department heads and directors that he'd lead them on a merry go round of BS too, and in the end, they'd have done all the work and he claimed the credit. As tiresome as keeping a wall between us was, THAT would have caused a nasty blowup so I did the best I could with what I had. And then I found another far better job and gave very frank feedback on the Lazy Bully and didn't look back.