My coworker is making my life miserable... Please help!
Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any advice - would really appreciate it! I have been in my job a year now and got on well with everyone, the coworker I am having issues with currently has also had issues with several other colleagues - all of them puerile and unnecessary problems that could have been avoided. In my case, my colleague, let's call her Ruth, informed me that I was not allowed to drink the hot chocolate, as it was the "boss'" hot chocolate - this was fine of course, so I went and bought my own. The next day everyone was discussing the shopping list and what we needed to buy (teas, coffee, milk etc), so I said completely innocently "Oh I've bought my own hot choc as I know we aren't allowed the boss'!" which was met with an extremely hostile reaction from Ruth who continued to completely throw her toys out the pram and accused me of being "over the top" and "showing her up in front of everyone". I let it calm down for a while then went to go and talk to her to try and work out why she got so upset, unfortunately she was so hostile towards me it got to the point where I actually got upset and had to leave the office for a few moments to calm down. The next day, I approached Ruth again to try and hash it out as I was confused and upset by her reaction, only to be personally attacked and accused of "crying on purpose" to gain the sympathy vote. Unfortunately as I am not that great at confrontation my voice began to shake, at this point Ruth said in an extremely patronising and sarcastic manner "Aww you going to get upset again? Oh yeah get upset and run off and get your sympathy vote then". I genuinely could not believe what was coming out of her mouth, it was so venemous. In an attempt to reconcile I apologised and said many times that I absolutely did not mean to upset her in any way, but it was left on a bad note as she refused to speak to me. Since then, she has been freezing me out and doing things such as making everyone drinks but me, emptying everyone's bin but mine, refusing to engage in conversation with me unless I directly speak to her but only receiving one word answers, whilst she speaks openly and in a friendly, almost over the top tone towards everyone else, in front of me like she wants me to see. I have informed HR and both of my boss' are aware, they have assured me that they too think it is unacceptable and want me to keep a note of things in case anything else happens. I don't know what to do and it's really getting me down. I struggle with anxiety any way and this is making me unwell and I dread coming into work, does anyone have any advice please?? I don't think I have it in me to face her again. For reference Ruth is 59 and I'm 24. Thank you!!
First and foremost, the company you are working for is failing both you and Ruth. If your bosses and HR can acknowledge the issue and call it as unacceptable and then turn around and give you the responsibility of noting further issues, then it is nothing short of irresponsible behavior on their behalf. It should give you a heads up of just who you are working for. HR should be moving on it now rather than wait for other issues to develop. If you are becoming unwell and dread going to work because of Ruth's victimization of you, then you are stating that you cannot do your job for which the company is paying you for. HR are paid to manage this sort of problem and you need to ensure that they act on it now otherwise you need to consider your options of working for a reputable company who value all of their staff, regardless of age and position, in every way.
Secondly, you don't apologize to anyone unless you know you have done wrong. Ruth seeks to belittle people to justify herself and her position of employment but you don't need to play her game. Her behavior is personal abuse of you possibly bought on by her insecure, controlling and petty nature. Given her age, she should know better and confusing as it is, it's possible that she is this way because she fears for her job in her 'mature' years.
Remember that most employers hire people to their own standards and HR are governed by company policy to hire those who meet the company's standards. Personally, you should never accept less than what you would expect from others in everything you do in life and this includes your career.
Thank you so much for your reply MANALONE, I really appreciate it. I feel like the best thing to do is to be polite and professional and then look potentially look for another job if nothing improves? As I agree with you that I don't feel I am being treated particularly well, especially as Ruth has previous behavior like this and nothing has been done in the past, so I severely doubt that will change now.
I felt like by apologising to her it would help the situation and she would see that I valued our working relationship, but I see now that is exactly what she wanted and I fell into her game, especially re-analysing her hostile and aggressive behaviour towards me at the time.
Thank you so much for your kind response Aunt Kitty! The job is important to me in terms of experience, but as I have been here a year now I feel that is enough to warrant me being able to move on with a decent amount of experience under my belt... The only issue for me then would be that I would feel like she has won and has pushed me out the company.
Having been bullied in the past and knowing my limits when it comes to anxiety, I think that if I stayed here much longer it simply isn't worth damaging my health in the long run. The thought of making it an official complaint does scare me quite a lot, but if this carries on then I feel I may have to... Although I am very worried that this would make things a lot worse. We are a very small company and there is only 7 of us in total in a small office, the remainder of the day sees it being just myself and Ruth for around an hour and a half and this makes my anxiety and stress level sky rocket every single day as I am petrified she will personally attack me again, you can genuinely cut the tension with a knife it's absolutely awful.
That's a great idea about the video, I have just made my voice recording app easily accessible on my phone as I thought that as we are alone at the end of the day it would be the perfect opportunity for her to make some snide comments, so thought if I have it on record there's absolutely no way she can escape it.
I thought it also might be a good idea to put in headphones and listen to quiet music so my mind can focus on something else rather than constantly worrying about the situation. I just need to find ways of managing my anxiety, stress and emotions, most of the time I go home with a pounding head, feeling shaky and drained, it's not good!- so any advice on things to do to help this would be wonderful, thank you!