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Monday, February 25, 2013

Never Leave Your Job Because of a Few Assholes

I was having a conversation with a co-worker several weeks ago. She told me that she was having a problem with a few fellow co-workers. Just to truncate the particulars on her situation, this woman feels like she is being bullied and taken advantage of. She went on to tell me that she is considering quitting her job because of this. When she told me this, I shook my head in disbelief. In these tough economic times when it is more difficult to find a job, who would just up and quit a job without another job lined up? Who would quit a job over a few low level assholes?


It turns out that she decided not to quit her job (at least in the short term). The advice that I gave to this co-worker was this: Fight for your job and put those assholes in their places. There are ways to do this without getting yourself in hot water and without enduring much drama. By the way, the suggestions that I make from here on out assumes that the “asshole” is not your supervisor or in a position of authority over you. If your supervisor is an asshole then you might want to take a slightly different approach, which I don’t discuss here.


If someone is making your life hell on the job, then you should identify what it is that this person is doing. Document each instance that this behavior occurs, so that you will have some evidence of what has occurred. Keep track of exactly what the offender has said or done to bother you, as well as the date and time. It’s almost like you are building up a case against the person. If you have to bring this to the attention of a supervisor then, the documentation makes you look more credible.

The next step is to talk directly and privately to the offender about his or her behavior. That is-if you feel that the offender is even approachable. If you believe that you can have a mature discussion with the offender, then go for it. Tell this person in a diplomatic, yet stern manner that the offensive behavior needs to end. Give the offender specific examples of his or her behavior in order to help him or her understand what you are referring to.

The offender is either going to apologize for the behavior and stop or pretend that he or she doesn’t know what you are talking about and even amplifies the offensive behaviors. I call the later, “game playing” or “being spiteful“. Most people who are normal will feel remorse for the bad behaviors, but there are a small group of individuals that have personality disorders or they have low levels of emotional intelligence. Some of these people are not capable or feeling remorse and there is very little that you can do to help them to change.

Hopefully, the issue should be resolved after a brief discussion. If not, you should follow the chain of command and then complain to your supervisor about it (remember to bring your documentation). Your supervisor will probably talk to the offender about his or her behavior and document the discussion. Most of the time, this should do the trick. Again, a normal thinking person will usually see the error of his or her ways. If the behavior continues, then go back to the supervisor with your complaint. Your supervisor will have to take corrective actions to see to it that the situation does not repeat itself. Otherwise, you will need to go above your supervisor’s head or human resources to see to it that once and for all, the situation is resolved.

I am going to suggest that we should not take filing complaints against co-workers lightly. It may backfire on you if you are filing petty complaints and in the future you may not be taken seriously. You don't want to come across as a thin-skinned individual who complains about the least little thing. Also, when you react in an overly emotional way to people that get on your nerves, you will have shown that person how to pull your strings. So, try to ignore minor assholes and this will intern work the minor assholes' nerves. Choose your battles very wisely.


Sometimes you have to let minor offense go. An example of a minor offense would be, a co-worker doesn’t respond to you when you say “Good morning”. Or, a co-worker gives you a dirty look from time to time. In my opinion, these are very trivial behaviors that should be ignored. Once in a while, people do things that are rude or offensive because they might be having personal problems or a bad day. It is not always about you personally.

This reminds of something that I read in a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the four agreements is “Don’t take anything personally”. If you subscribe to this idea at least somewhat, you will probably eliminate a lot of stressors in you life.


In the same breath, there are some things that we should not let go, such as sexual harassment, manipulation, humiliation, defamation of character, sabotage, threats of violence, etc. These are things that could interfere with your ability to do your job. They could also have a very negative impact on your physical and psychological well being. Also, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to “nip it in the bud” stages, before it snowballs out of control. If you are experiencing any of this on the part of a co-worker, then it is time to stand up for yourself. You deserve to do your job and be treated with respect and dignity.

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt

 www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com



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