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Working with colleague who is toxic

(14 Posts)
Woo33 Thu 20-Oct-22 08:24:24

Hi ladies. Would appreciate some advice and opinion please. I work in a team of 5, with one boss. I like my co-workers apart from one who is truly the worst person I’ve ever met in my life. She has no morals, treats people badly, unaccountable and dishonest. My boss knows this but the behaviour continues. In group meetings, I can’t bear to be near the woman so I sit far away and I ignore her. I put an invisible boundary between us. My boss has recently asked me to be nice to her, to keep the peace etc but I just cannot and I feel it is wrong of my boss to expect me to do this. I am over 50 years old, a senior professional and feel I am being treated like a child: “ play nicely” attitude. I am not verbally rude to this woman, I just choose to not engage with her. Would be keen for your opinions on this please? Thank you ! smile

Lathyrus Thu 20-Oct-22 08:44:19

You’re there to do a job. If you don’t engage with one of your colleagues, ignoring them, that’s got to affect your performance and the team performance.

You don’t have to be a friend, but you do have to do what the job requires in a professional manner.

Obviously your stance towards her has been noted and you have received a non-official “prod”. Be careful. You could find the next thing is a written warning.

You might think this is unfair. But to your boss both you and this unpleasant colleague are affecting the performance of the team.

swampy1961 Thu 20-Oct-22 08:57:06

I think I'd be saying to my boss - I accept what you're saying but can I ask if you have had a similar conversation with said colleague??
I'm retired now but over the years even if I had issues with people I could still deal with them professionally all the while wishing I could poke them in the eye with a stick!! wink
Funnily enough I was out last night with two former colleagues who are much younger than myself . When my former line manager said she had to have words with the office in general in her new job as they were all really snippy with each other and the atmosphere was awful.
She'd never had to deal with such behaviour in a working environment with so many people at once. It made wish her we'd not been made redundant and things were as they used to be.

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Oct-22 08:58:36

I sympathise with your situation Woo, when contact with someone who is toxic is unavoidable, boundaries are key. That said I agree with Lathyrus so professional detachment is the way to go.

Acknowledging her presence is possible while retaining your boundaries. Keep any contact to work related issues only, and deal with any unprofessional exchanges or behaviour that affects you directly in a calm and measured way.

Blondiescot Thu 20-Oct-22 09:01:58

I can heartily sympathise. I loved my job, except for my manager, who was a very similar sort of person. No matter what I did, I could not do anything right in her eyes. It got to the stage where I dreaded seeing her name appear on my phone. Eventually, after a phone call where she ranted and raved and blamed me for something which I had nothing to do with, I put the phone down and immediately wrote my resignation. I've been out of work since - but I don't regret it. Life is too short to work with someone like that.

lixy Thu 20-Oct-22 09:13:48

A really tricky one in such a small team. As Lathyrus said professional detachment is the best way, though really difficult to maintain when you're having a bad hair day yourself. Please be careful.

Keep smiling - nasty people find it very disconcerting!

LRavenscroft Thu 20-Oct-22 09:38:39

Please check out any sites to do with Narcissism including how to behave towards narcissistic colleagues. Obviously, I do not know your situation, but it is worth checking out as a first port of call. There is a method called Grey Rock which means you engage with difficult people as if they were simply a rock. Good morning/good night/ just stick to the script related to work matters. Part of it is not to show any form of emotion or get involved in conversations beyond the weather. If you do that at least you will be 'beige' which means she can't report anything on you to your boss. Also, I would observe how she treats other people in the office. Personally, if I don't like someone or if they rock my boat I get a very strong feeling of revulsion to be near them, but with Grey Rock you know you are in control, don't upset the equilibrium and it also allows 'the offender' a stage which you can observe. Very hard but worth a try. As you say you are a senior professional over 50. I find the stories my family come home with from the office a very different world to when I worked in an office and we were old school. Good luck and look after yourself.

BigBertha1 Thu 20-Oct-22 09:48:48

I would invoke the Whistleblowing Policy or Professional Standards policy/Bullying whatever policy if you have one about this unprofessional behaviour. Let your Boss know you are going over his head first. Don't stand for this stand u for yourself.

Woo33 Thu 20-Oct-22 09:52:21

Wow - thank you all so much for your fantastic advice and wisdom. I feel so much better - after feeling disgruntled for a day or so! It does help to get others perspective. I’m going to take all the advice you’ve given me smile thank you ladies x

Lathyrus Thu 20-Oct-22 10:03:39

If you’re thinking of going down the route of invoking policies like Whistleblowing (though I did think this is an appropriate one for this circumstance) or Bullying, then take some time to accumulate recorded evidence to back up your accusations or complaints.

Simply saying someone is dishonest won’t work. You must have evidence of dishonesty that can be verified. Treats people badly, again you need not just evidence but if you cite an incident involving another colleague you must have their agreement that they were treated badly.

No morals, I wouldn’t go there frankly. Morals are a matter of personal judgement, unless you can prove that an immoral action has affected work outcomes.

I’m worried that you might act precipitately based on some of the advice given.

Lathyrus Thu 20-Oct-22 10:04:24

Oh dear. Whistleblowing I dont think is appropriate

RichmondPark1 Thu 20-Oct-22 10:07:25

What do your other colleagues think of this person? If she is as you say I'm sure they all wish to avoid her too. Have you discussed it with them or put your side of the story to your boss.

In my experience after 50 the politics side of office life becomes intolerable and the remedies to it seem childish, amateur and tedious. I left, retrained and worked for myself as I couldn't stand the childishness.

Daisymae Thu 20-Oct-22 10:14:09

At the end of the day we have to work with all sorts of people, including those that we don't like. It will impact on your job if you do not have a professional working relationship and that includes talking to other members of your team. The atmosphere at work must be very difficult and I'm sure that other have noticed that you ostracise this individual. I would consider going back to your boss and suggest some team building takes place. It's possible that your colleague has spoken to your boss or they have noticed your behaviour. Maybe she feels threatened or intimidated? There's a joint responsibility to make the working environment a positive experience. Everyone has a a role to play.

biglouis Thu 20-Oct-22 12:28:23

I once had a snitch on my small team and other people were refusing to work with her, name calling, etc. I had to call them into the office individually to remind them that they had a contractual obligation to be polite and civil to colleagues and to collaborate to get the job done. So if I witnessed any incidents of bullying, name calling etc I would have to deal with it as a disciplinery incident regardless of the background. Needless to say this caused even more resentment against the snitch. There were still subtle ways in which they could continue to cut her out of all social interaction, speaking to her only on "business" matters. Fortunately I managed to persuade her to ask for a transfer on personal grounds.

There is no point in being sugar sweet to someone you dislike as they will see through it anyway. Better to keep your manner brisk and professional. You have to get on in work but you dont have to spend your lunch time or coffee break with them.