Question: How do you handle “that person at work” who causes you stress in every interaction?

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A common occurrence in the workplace. That one person who stresses you out.
Raises your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, lowers your mood.

The person that once you’ve achieved this state, it doesn’t matter what they say, right or wrong, leaves you feeling down, used, exhausted.

How do you navigate your work day with these sort of people? How do you actively reduce the impact? What are your mechanisms for coping? Have you ever succeeded and got to the other side and repaired that relationship?

Share below! Or if it helps. Have a vent.
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I (politely) avoid that person. If that is not possible, I turn in my notice. Life is too short.

 

I want to make sure to clarify that, in my experience, there have been several situations:

  • maybe the other person is a jerk
  • maybe I'm the jerk
  • maybe we're both jerks
  • maybe neither of us are jerks, but we just don't mesh
  • maybe the other person is proactively trying to destroy my career

Discussing with the other person may help. But may not.

If I'm the jerk -- and I have been at times -- being made aware of my jerk behavior has helped me to try to conscientiously improve my behavior. I am grateful to those who stepped up to make me aware of what I was doing.

I've worked with people that I'd classify as zealots or fanatics. (A zealot can't change his mind. A fanatic can't change his mind and won't change the subject.) For example, someone that is pro-racist and pushes that racism and won't (can't?) drop the subject is going to annoy the heck out of me and stress me out. If they can leave the subject out of the workplace, great. But if they can't, we're going to have problems.

For the first four situations, avoidance is okay as long as it doesn't also make the team dysfunctional. But if the avoidance space is not mutually respected by the other person, then it won't work.

The last situation is just a bad situation.

 

I have been one to "kill with kindness", but unfortunately, the kindness part goes out the window when they look at you with disgust. So I just go back to doing what I am doing, and try to win them over with my work

 

Deep breaths and emotional maturity will help you stay calm. Sometimes you're not in a position to just hand in your notice, so you need to learn how to deal with them.

Some practical tips:

1 - Interact with them as little as possible.
2 - Remain calm when you do interact with them. Stay professional. If you need to, rant to your friends afterwards, but don't blow up in their face.
3 - If it gets too much, speak to HR.

 

Oftentimes, I would get blamed for inaccuracies and issues with data representation and I would be able to find the answer either through data or some other research method that would win my argument for me. During these times of Nancy Drewing, I would be civil in discussion and made sure to document everything throughly in correspondences so it would reflect me doing my job properly. Did this constantly stress me out, absolutely, but I found solace in knowing that my receipts were acting as the shovel that they were using to dig their hole.

 

Hi,

I found that a very simple strategy works quite well (at least in France): state professionally but clearly ones feeling to the toxic person, in front of others. The 'secret' is that you are not obliged to hide your feelings, and many bullies rely on the fact you will not express your feelings.

So I have seen statements like 'I find very unpleasant you are always cutting my sentences when I am speaking', or 'I find your statement unjustly negative, I wonder if you have a personal issue with me, or a special reason to make this project of mine fail' work wonders, especially when expressed in front of a lot of people.

If you try to stay neutral and find a compromise, you will likely fail. Just expressing clearly your feelings works quite better as the bully 'scheme' is exposed in dailight.

Note that the bully is likely to answer in a way that will try to downgrade you, and you should probably have a few answer punchlines ready like 'it seems you are persisting with your ways, and I find that unacceptable'. It is worth preparing them, as, during the exchange, you may be quite emotional and not come up with an answer on the fly.

 

I work(ed) with someone who felt the need to argue with everything I said and to treat me like I am a child (even though, I am actually more senior than they are). They have on more than one occasion taken credit for my ideas or work. They also tend to exhaust me with conversation, I am very much an introvert and like to be able to focus on my work, so the extraneous conversation about their personal life is frustrating. My sister had an excellent point when I asked her for advice... she said that my coworker may be insecure, and it reminded me that there was a time in my career that I too was insecure and I was struggling to keep up... desperate to prove that I knew what I was doing and that I belonged here. She advised that I occasionally ask for their input on things that I am working on. I have found that if I ask them questions, and even add them as a reviewer on my pull requests- even though their comments make me crazy, they don't seem to be so argumentative, and they are easier to work with. As for wasting my time telling me all about their personal lives? I am still learning to say that, while I am enjoying the conversation, I really have a lot to do, and I need to focus. I have even suggested we grab a cup of coffee or something at a later time. It is important for me to feel connected to my coworkers, and I try to remember that maybe they don't really have many people to talk to. I just have to get a little better at setting boundaries!

 

I put my resignation letter on the table. They keep the a$$hole and they lost the gold.

 

Good advice when it becomes too much! Sometimes it is better to walk away from a job when you are not appreciated enough for the work you do. There are always other opportunities.

 
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Senior Data Analyst who cares too much about the big picture and less about the SQL that I’m actually writing. I like to write and have even been known to commit fiction from time to time.