Author Topic: Annoying CoWorker does it again - new situation, new question p24  (Read 7624 times)

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Shopaholic

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2012, 01:58:51 PM »
These sorts of 'petty things' are exactly what your supervisor is there to handle. Sounds like coworker doesn't respect you and has no problem displaying that. Time for a sit down with your supervisor there to mediate.

The thing is - we're grad students. We're both thirty-ish (yeah I know, hard to believe..) Petty things are the last thing I am supposed to go to my supervisor about.

Shopaholic

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2012, 02:02:15 PM »

It sounds like the two of you are in a bad loop. You rub each other the wrong way, and any of the patience that you might summon up for other people, you just can't find for one another.

Maybe there's a way to break that loop--somtimes the unexpected can do it. But you would have to be willing to make a major mental shift. Not that easy, especially in the face of hostility, and when you feel you're sort of justified. Also not easy when you really don't have any long-term stake in getting on better footing (as you might w/ a sibling or roommate).

But you also might e able to slow down or STOP the loop, even if you aren't interested in reversing it. I like the "take a sip of water" idea.

You're right (as usual  ;)).
Most of the time I try to look the other way. She walks around the lab yelling, bustles around me when I'm doing something incredibly delicate, takes my pens... I shut up and move on (and complain about her to my friends).
But when it comes to being unprofessional or downright unethical (like the previous thread), I can't let it go.
Unfortunately I am not a very good communicator and I can't tell her anything without raising the hostility levels...

 

CharlieBraun

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2012, 02:31:08 PM »
These sorts of 'petty things' are exactly what your supervisor is there to handle. Sounds like coworker doesn't respect you and has no problem displaying that. Time for a sit down with your supervisor there to mediate.

The thing is - we're grad students. We're both thirty-ish (yeah I know, hard to believe..) Petty things are the last thing I am supposed to go to my supervisor about.

If it's interfering with the lab work, and your education, then it's not petty.  And frankly, you just have trouble handing this, as you yourself admit. 

You are loathe to get the supervisor involved?  Imagine about how well it will go if she goes to the supervisor.

That is the job of the supervisor.  There is a reason they hold that position.
"We ate the pies."

Deetee

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2012, 02:58:49 PM »
I think it is best to get the supervisor informed early, but not neccesarily involved. Just mention as part of another meeting that you've had some issues with her taking your pens and other peoples office supplies, trying to use your equipment even after multiple people told her it was in use and you find her a bit hostile to work with. Then say that you will talk to her again, set up a sign up sheet.. etc..

Then at a later meeting you can say that you are really having difficulty communicating and would it be OK to start copying the boss on all emails as she keeps claiming people have agreed to things they haven't.

Bosses don't like to be blindsided and need info to work with.

Lynda_34

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2012, 04:06:26 PM »
In one of my jobs I supervise two shifts a week.  I tell staff, if you don't let me know I can't help you and I can't address the behavior.  They are getting better at telling me things since they also see that I act on them.

Most emails also have a BCC (blind cc feature)  I use that feature when I'm e mailing another supervisor but I also want the director to know about it.

Good luck, you've not worked this hard for this long to be derailed and when you finally get a job in corporate America you're going to run into this a lot.   

fluffy

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2012, 05:33:50 PM »
These sorts of 'petty things' are exactly what your supervisor is there to handle. Sounds like coworker doesn't respect you and has no problem displaying that. Time for a sit down with your supervisor there to mediate.

The thing is - we're grad students. We're both thirty-ish (yeah I know, hard to believe..) Petty things are the last thing I am supposed to go to my supervisor about.

Part of being 30ish is learning how to deal with difficult people. Look at this as just another part of your education.

Your coworker is annoying/childish, but don't stoop to her level. By yelling and lecturing, you're bringing yourself down to her level and ratcheting up the animosity and tension in the lab.

Practice counting to ten before saying something. If you don't think your calm enough to confront her in the heat of the moment, let it go for the time being and then bring it up later when you think you can be more rational. You also might need to start letting go of the more petty annoyances. Bring the serious stuff up with your lab manager and then do what you can to minimize the rest of it. If she's stealing important lab supplies from you, bring that up with the lab manager. If she takes your pens, stop leaving them where she can walk off with them.

In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to adjust your behavior as a result of her personality flaws. But you're going to find people like her pretty much wherever you go. The best way to deal with them is to limit the amount of damage that they can do.

At my last job, I had a coworker who behaved really similarly to your annoying coworker. He was awful. But, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that my reaction to him made things much, much worse than they should have been. It's hard to admit it when you're not entirely blameless, but it's also somewhat empowering. My new mantra is that I can't control other people, I can only control my own reaction to them. When someone is annoying/petty/obnoxious, I try my hardest to avoid stooping to their level. And if I don't think that I can confront someone calmly and rationally, I let it go.

VorFemme

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2012, 06:58:37 PM »
Get a pocket protector or a rubberized pen holder on a rope around your neck so that she cannot take your pen without being quite obvious about it.............or tape a big red rose to it to show that it is YOUR pen.  I go to a quilt show that has a "floral arrangement" next to the sign up sheets - the pens for the sign up sheets have various artificial flowers taped to them - they look pretty in the holder and nobody absent-mindedly sticks one in their pocket as they walk away..............nobody.  The danged flowers are too big for the pen to fit in a pocket!

As for the other - mentioning that there is a general scheduling issue for such things in limited supply as the apparatus or possibly culture media that has to be cooked up in advance (Mom worked in a lab as the professor's assistant - she was in charge of the student's scheduling and making up the various media - among other things, over time).

BCC is going to be a way to let other people know that "this" is an issue that needs to be addressed with a change in policy (say, a sign up sheet or other way of reserving equipment or meeting space in advance). 

Good luck!
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Shopaholic

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2012, 11:22:08 AM »

Part of being 30ish is learning how to deal with difficult people. Look at this as just another part of your education.

Your coworker is annoying/childish, but don't stoop to her level. By yelling and lecturing, you're bringing yourself down to her level and ratcheting up the animosity and tension in the lab.

Practice counting to ten before saying something. If you don't think your calm enough to confront her in the heat of the moment, let it go for the time being and then bring it up later when you think you can be more rational. You also might need to start letting go of the more petty annoyances. Bring the serious stuff up with your lab manager and then do what you can to minimize the rest of it. If she's stealing important lab supplies from you, bring that up with the lab manager. If she takes your pens, stop leaving them where she can walk off with them.

In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to adjust your behavior as a result of her personality flaws. But you're going to find people like her pretty much wherever you go. The best way to deal with them is to limit the amount of damage that they can do.


I agree with you. Going to Lab Manager/PI and saying "Coworker took my pens and I want you to do something" is basically saying "I'm a child and I want you to play nursemaid."
Lab Manager has already been sucked into the position of "kindergarten teacher", and she knows it. She doesn't like it, but thinks it's up to us to figure it out.
PI knows we don't get along. I had a personal evaluation meeting with him a number of months ago, and I know that he holds me in very high regard. I don't want to risk that. I told him that as far as I am concerned, as my coworker, she will get anything she needs from me professionally, and that personal feelings do not play a part in it.
Unfortunately, for her they do and she is also very unprofessional.

So far the only times I've made a big deal of things was with the poster/authorship incident and this one. I haven't approached PI with any of them, but Lab Manager knows (she didn't say anything about the apparatus incident).

She was on vacation for the past week, and got back today I studiously ignored her. It seems that she is afraid of me, as she scampers out of the way when I go anywhere near her. I don't know if that is good or bad at the moment.

I am now responsible for a major resource for our group, and if she needs anything from there (most likely on a weekly basis) she will need to talk to me. If she abuses the resource or does anything with it without my knowledge I am definitely going to PI, but I am seriously hoping that she will learn to communicate her needs on a professional level.

My pens are all marked with a sticker with my name on them. After two pens went missing I went and bought some hot-pink ones that are very eye-catching and different from the standard university ones. The pens are a minor thing, really - but eventually it's the little things that drive you mad.

Nemesis

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2012, 04:32:37 AM »
Hooboy. I remember the other thread about your co-worker.

It sounds like you both just bring out the worst in each other. She makes you respond like a first grader, and your presence makes her act like she's 5 (hiding/taking your pens? I mean, c'mon...).

As the famous phrase goes: You can't change her, but you can change the way you respond to her.

The best way to deal with her is to be as professional as possible. Do not respond to her without first filtering your words to yourself. I had a colleague like this, and I always typed out what I wanted to say in Notepad and edited it before talking to him. If it was something that required an immediate response (like to a direct question), I always "postponed" answering it by saying "Let me get back to you with that after I'm done with <insert whatever it is that I am doing>.

I like your approach with the pens. If you see her with any of them, just politely say "Janie, that looks like my pen. May I have it back please?". If she makes a snarky comment, just smile and say "Okay, but I would still really like my pen back".

Same thing with the apparatus. Don't get angry (or even if you do, don't show it). Just say "Janie, I have already booked that apparatus for <insert the period of time you need>. You are welcomed to use it after I am done." If she says things like "You are doing something else!" Just repeat with "Janie, I have booked the use of that apparatus and I am afraid that you are going to have to find other alternatives if you wish to use it now". If she insists on sharing, just tell her "No thank you".

My colleague used to be very childish - he would have probably refused to budge and just ignored me. I have so many stories about him. For example, we had a parallel computing setup which I was using (for a simulation that would take a week to run) and he pressed the cancel button on Day 5 so that he could free up the PC for his use. Or another time, he called the purchasing department to cancel my equipment order and sent an email stating that my fund was actually his, and then proceeded to place another order, using my funds! I found out when the finance manager called me to check on why the data is inconsistent! Then when confronted, he insisted he never did it, and that the purchasing department was setting him up!  ::) ::) Oh Goodness, the stories I could tell, but oh wait, I'm derailing the thread  :( :( My apologies.

Anyway, my point is that Janie doesn't sound as awful as that (I hope!) She just seems to enjoy pushing your buttons. So stay polite and don't respond and take pleasure in the fact that the more professional you behave, the more childish she may get to try to push your buttons. And the more this happens, the more the situation will turn to your favour. Currently because you are both sniping at each other, your supervisor will see it as "two people quarrelling". When you are as professional and polite as she is childish and annoying, believe me when I say that everyone will call a spade, a spade.

Shopaholic

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2012, 12:07:15 PM »
Thank you all for your responses.
I had a new situation come up this week, and I would like your advice please.

Big Machine can be used for acquiring and analysing data. There is a whiteboard where you can sign up for time slots on Big Machine. I signed up for a certain weekly time slot three weeks ago, but haven't used it because both last week and the week before the machine was being serviced.
This week I updated the date on my time slot, to make sure that I there would be no misunderstandings that I was intending to use the machine at that time.

I started working 30 minutes later than planned since Lab Manager needed some extra time with the machine, and there was no one signed up after me. I needed to do some analysis. Five minutes in, PI walks in and tells me that Coworker needs the machine NOW because otherwise her entire experiment is ruined.**

I told PI that I have no problem letting her have the machine, but that I couldn't understand why she didn't come and ask me herself.
I pointed out two things that bothered me:
1) I had been signed up for this time slot for three weeks now.
2) Why he asks me, and not her. I told him that every time Coworker needs something from me, she send either Lab Manager or Lab Technician to tell me, and that I feel like I'm in nursery school and that I think this kind of communication is not the way a lab should work.

I stressed that I understand the urgency, and had no problem giving up my time slot - but that I was bothered by the way I was asked told to vacate.

PI said that she would use the machine now, and that we can all sit down together later and talk about it.
This was two days ago, and the conversation hasn't happened yet.

As much as I would like to give her enough rope in this conversation to hang herself, I'm not great at having a conversation go the way I want it.
How do I come out of this conversation as professional as possible?

** Why Coworker needed the machine urgently: she set up an experiment without checking at what point she needed to collect the data. PI told her to contact the person who gave her the protocol, which she put off until that person told her that she should have collected the data four hours ago. This is very typical of her - she doesn't plan in advance.
Next time she pulls a stunt like this I'll be ready with "your failure to plan ahead does not constitute an emergency on my part."

Deetee

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Re: Annoying CoWorker does it again
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2012, 12:36:14 PM »

I told PI that I have no problem letting her have the machine, but that I couldn't understand why she didn't come and ask me herself.
I pointed out two things that bothered me:
1) I had been signed up for this time slot for three weeks now.
2) Why he asks me, and not her. I told him that every time Coworker needs something from me, she send either Lab Manager or Lab Technician to tell me, and that I feel like I'm in nursery school and that I think this kind of communication is not the way a lab should work.

I stressed that I understand the urgency, and had no problem giving up my time slot - but that I was bothered by the way I was asked told to vacate.

For number 2, I actually think this is a good thing that she is sending her requests through other people. It means her (bad) behaviour is more official and you get to address your legitimate concerns with a reasonable person immediatly, instead of letting annoying co-worker tell them that you were mean and ruined the data collection.

For situations like this, the best way to address it is to approach it as a research problem, not an annoying personal problem.

"I am concerned about what happened on Monday. I had an experiment planned and ready to go. In another 30 minutes I would have been in the middle of collecting data as I planned and scheduled for 3 weeks. In that case, I would not have been able to cancel my planned and scheduled experiments with no notice. Therefore one of the experiments would have to be ruined because someone did not determine when they would need the equipment. I want to make it clear that next time I will NOT be willing to set aside my planned, scheduled experiment for an unplanned one. This was not an emergency, it was only poor planning"

OK, I used the term planned and scheduled too many times, but I think that helps.

I  also find that if you can be cheery and firm you can use very strong wording. If you will be upset, use lighter wording and let your tone get things across.

However, just stoop accomadating her poor planning (but still accomadate others emergencies)