Dealing with a dominating colleague
I need suggestions related to some incidents at work and I do not know how to react to this.
I am 31 Female. I joined my company 3 years back. I was the only South Asian in my team where rest of colleagues were North Americans. I was hired for a major project and My immediate bosses were really nice people. I had a good start. Soon I was moved to a task for which they did not had any resource for time being. I had to work with a small team of 15 people. I worked with a lady from China and rest of people were North Americans. Since I was on training at same time, I was still learning some of the business. Soon another Indian girl from our vendor joined the team for next 3 months and she became a close friend to me since I helped her to settle down in city (she moved from India to work on this project for 3 months). My main task was to share workload with the Chinese lady. She was as old as my Mom and I respected her the same way. Meanwhile, if she went for coffee she always took me with her as I was new to company or sometimes I asked the other Indian girl to join us . Sometime if everyone else was going, I would join them. Many times I went alone for coffee or break as I was not comfortable asking my teammates. Two reason – they might be busy working on the project and I was new to team, they always went together as a group.
There was this white girl “XYZ” same age as mine in team, who is overweight and very dominant. I do not know why or when she just started getting irritated seeing me and Chinese lady to be so good friends. I am very sure that I never offended her on anyone on the project as I am very soft spoken person and I act very professional. I believe I go to work to do my job and I get paid for that. I do not go there to play friendships or making groups. I personally feel that XYZ wants everyone in the team to be in her group of which she acts as a leader and wants to know everything what is happening around (any talk or gossip). So she started passing some comments. For e.g. once I went for coffee alone and when I came back to cubicle with coffee mug in my hand, she said loudly “Thanks for asking us for coffee”. For which I turned back and politely said “I thought you guys were busy in testing so that’s why I didn’t ask you guys”. She said loudly “OK”. after that she kind of started a weird behavior. Every day the whole group will go for coffee together. If there was anyone left in cubicle. She would stand at cubicle entrance and start asking everyone sitting there one by one if they want to go for coffee. But when my turn will come, she will skip me and ask the immediate next person for coffee. I felt humiliated but I ignored. Soon after there was Halloween and she brought cup cakes to office. She offered them to everyone in cubicle one by one and again skipped me and asked immediate next person. Whether she doing it intentionally or unintentionally, no one I my team had guts to speak for this. Everyone was quiet. The Chinese lady was quiet too. So does the Indian girl since she was a contractor.
One day I finished a task which I did not knew completely. So I took help of the expert person and finished it as he instructed. When after lunch I walked into cubicle and everyone was sitting quietly, she turned to me while sitting on chair and almost shouted at me “Do you even know how to set it correctly? It does not look right at all”. I was taken aback because it was very embarrassing. Everyone turned back on their chairs and looked at me as if I did a big crime. I told her straight on her face that so & so helped me to finish the task. Whatever I had done was correct she just wanted to show me that I am not efficient. The guy who helped then said that he was the one who helped me with that.
This actually irked me and Chinese lady. That I was still thinking of talking to her directly, but Chinese lady went straight to her manager (both of them had same manager) and told her about the incident. When I was about to leave for house her manager came to me asked everything. To which I explained exactly happened and she said she is sorry to hear that it is happened. And it will result into appropriate action. I told her that I want action to be taken not because it happened with me, but for a reason that we all are responsible to keep team environment friendly and nice. If someone will behave like that it is going to affect other people. I assured her that I am not complaining about the incident but as employees of company we all should be respectful to each other as we are not there to make friendships like school kids. Later I told my boss about the incident as the other manager was going to discuss it in their own manager’s meeting and I wanted my manager to aware of it.
Well after this, My boss ensured that I was ok and was respected. He later assigned me to critical projects and XYZ was also replaced from team as she behaved in similar way to 2 more team members. After that 2 years have been passed, I think she holds grudge of same thing or maybe she is racist. We are in same unit but she just stopped looking at me or stopped greeting me. Even if it is a group of people she will not greet me or say me hi. I avoided the situations where there was any casual talk involved with her because very time there was something she would make fun of me. My relationship with her was limited to day to day business.
In last 2 years our projects are completed and new projects are started. We are same set of people. She is still kind of leader of the group and organize/plan most of the team outing , dinners, drinks etc. She is the one who send out emails to everyone. So for last 2 years I was missed from most of the outings and dinner emails which no one objected (even the immediate managers, my manager was changed 1.5 year ago). Her behavior towards me is same. Few people have become my good friends but when it comes to her everyone kind of listen to her (not my problem again)
Since last 5-6 months things started to cool down and I just forgot about whole story. Recently I was invited to an outing where we had dinner and drinks. She was there too and she actually drove us girls to the venue as she have a big car. Around 10 PM we finished. She was dropping one of my close friend to her apartments and I already had plan that I would go with her and catch a bus from her apartment (From venue I had to change 3 buses in order to reach my home). When we wore our jackets, she asked me loudly where do you live? I told her my locality. She said very loud and rudely that “No way I am going to drop you. That place is far”. To which I replied that it is ok I will take a bus or cab to my place. She was like “OK that’s good”. When we came out of the restaurant all of us started walking towards her car, she again started “ so how are you going home”. I told her that I will get ride with her till my friend’s apartment and will take bus from there. My reason of not to take a cab from the venue was that there were few drunk and wasted people there and I was not at all comfortable standing there.
The other ugly thing I noticed was another guy ABC from our team who is her very good friend had a car did not even for courtesy sake told that I will drop you at home. No need to take cab. XYZ and ABC were the only two people who had car that night and were going to give ride to people present at dinner. I am feeling very embarrassed and humiliated with this whole incident. The way she behaved it literally insulted me in front of everyone.
For first time her behavior has affected me so much and I am angry/upset about whole scenario. Could you guys advice me what to do. I know it is very long post but I need suggestion. Please let me know if you guys find anything wrong with my behavior or anything which might have upset her. How should I deal with it because I respect my dignity too. I cannot let someone with bad attitude to ruin my reputation at work or make me upset.
it might be you are getting fed up with the situation : that's why you are feeling upset - but how fed up are you with yourself for letting all this happen ? I understand you are trying to do good and you are - this person seems to have a need to overpower others and even if perhaps you can not get the situation to become better from a professionnal point of view - you can at least set better boundaries regarding your self-esteem : if the person wants to bully you for no good reason - it is up to you to not let it affect you - you have to build up a stronger self-esteem and self-worth and just go about doing your business - do not let it upset you - besides - you can not force other people on the team - they will behave the way they will : people often follow like sheep the one who seems to be the stronger one - for reasons of needing to feel accepted and integrated in the group and fear of creating trouble - this person will see that if you do not let it get to you - this annoying influence will lose its power over you - thus it's the person losing power over you - and as long as you do your job well - there is nothing else the person can do really.