Author Topic: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?  (Read 5157 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2013, 03:16:47 PM »
You can treat her desk like a drop box. Drop stuff off, leave. Without comment, without pleasantries, without listening.

MrTango

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2013, 03:25:08 PM »
You can treat her desk like a drop box. Drop stuff off, leave. Without comment, without pleasantries, without listening.

The only issue with doing that is that the OP would need to write a note explaining exactly why she's dropping something off.

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2013, 10:17:07 PM »
Yeah, sometimes things take more explaining than what you could clearly convey with a Post-It note.  I do use Post-its sometimes, particularly when it's something that can wait.  Today I used one because normally when I get a sales order to pack up, there are address and product labels in the packet, for the box.  The order I was packing today was large and we didn't know how many boxes it was going to take.  Once it was finished I stuck a Post-It to the completed sales order that said "Need 4 more sets of labels, 5 boxes total".  That kind of thing can wait...once she has the waybills and stuff all set to go (she is the one who puts those on boxes) she can also bring the labels out with her, so it wasn't urgent. That doesn't tend to set her off.

Toots, your last paragraph was very astute; that's exactly what happens.  We (half-jokingly) wish each other luck before going to her office, and if she's cranky, we usually relay the incident.  I try hard not to because i feel like that's gossip, but I hear about it a lot from the other people in the shop.

I spoke to her today about M, using some of the wording that's been suggested, and it didn't go over too badly; her reaction was one more of mild surprise, though I'm not really sure what she was surprised at.  I don't know if she was surprised that i spoke up, surprised M had spoken up or surprised because she genuinely didn't realise she had been acting rude.

She has a lot of personal issues, and while I sympathise, I don't really feel like her problems need to become my problems just because they stress her out and she chooses to take it out on the rest of us.
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TootsNYC

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2013, 12:09:20 AM »
Yeah, sometimes things take more explaining than what you could clearly convey with a Post-It note. 

Then maybe write on it, "Urgent--come ask me about this."

Make her be the supplicant now and then. If she has to leave her office to come to your turf, she can't feel as invaded and "snuck up upon."

Just a suggestion.

I'm glad you had the talk about M. It's a great start.

veronaz

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2013, 10:47:15 AM »
Quote
We (half-jokingly) wish each other luck before going to her office, and if she's cranky, we usually relay the incident.  I try hard not to because i feel like that's gossip, but I hear about it a lot from the other people in the shop.

While I realize people in workplaces like to talk/gossip and band together to complain about a co-worker, this is not a solution.  In fact, it usually exacerbates the problem and results in downtime and lost ptoduction.

Quote
She has a lot of personal issues, and while I sympathise, I don't really feel like her problems need to become my problems just because they stress her out and she chooses to take it out on the rest of us.

Sounds like supervisor needs to refer her for help - maybe Employee Assistance Program (if there is one).  Post-it notes and avoidance aren't going to solve the problem.

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2013, 11:43:50 PM »
A small update:

She's been a lot better since our discussion about M.  I'm willing to bet she is overwhelmed with her personal stresses and didn't really realise she was taking it out on us. 

We know that she does not have a good relationship with her husband and that he travels for work and that she is always happier when he is gone.  Internally I wonder why they don't separate, since she makes it pretty clear she is miserable in her relationship, but I'll never ask because it's really none of my business.  We also know that her husband has both hoarding issue and a drinking problem and that she also struggles with drinking.  This isn't just hearsay or gossip, this is stuff she's told us herself.

Like I said, I do sympathise; she's got a bit of a tough row to hoe right now, but that doesn't mean I'm going to allow her to take out her stress on me or my shop hands.  My job is to go to bat for them, so it isn't inappropriate for me to take her aside and ask her to treat my people with more respect, particularly my assistant. 

I'm glad things are improving; she seems more pleasant these days.  I hope it sticks.
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LadyClaire

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2013, 09:16:38 AM »
I had a co-worker like that. She was so awful that even HR didn't want to deal with her. Our two departments were completely unrelated, and HR would call me to ask a question about something nasty co-worker's department was responsible for. I'd tell them "I'm sorry, but I don't know. You need to talk to Nasty about that" and the HR person would sigh and say "I was afraid of that".

Why they didn't fire her, I will never know. She was written up plenty enough times. Her behavior was just so over-the-top and inappropriate that everyone hated having to ask her anything because you never knew if she'd be OK, or if she'd blow a fuse. One day a professor asked her something and she got so angry she slammed the office door hard enough to knock pictures off the walls.

The day she quit was a relief to everyone. None of us ever did figure out how to deal with her.

Petticoats

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2013, 09:54:29 AM »
Glad to see the good update! And, for possible future use, I like this suggestion from Toots:

Yeah, sometimes things take more explaining than what you could clearly convey with a Post-It note. 

Then maybe write on it, "Urgent--come ask me about this."

Make her be the supplicant now and then. If she has to leave her office to come to your turf, she can't feel as invaded and "snuck up upon."

Just a suggestion.

I'm glad you had the talk about M. It's a great start.

Ginger G

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2013, 11:03:16 AM »
Quote
I had a co-worker like that. She was so awful that even HR didn't want to deal with her.

I work in HR and our "cranky coworker" is the lady who does our payroll, and I honestly don't know how to deal with her either!  I've tried being extra nice, I've tried being perfunctorily businesslike, and now I just try to avoid her as much as possible.  She's nasty to just about everyone except those in positions of authority over her (our mutual boss and the company CEO). 

I had a lady in my office just last week crying after an encounter with her.  I honestly don't know why our boss puts up with it.  Well, I kind of do I guess...he doesn't enjoy confrontations, she is good at the technical aspects of her job, he just doesn't want to deal with it, etc.  She's in her 60s so there's no way she will leave to go work somewhere else at this point.  Unfortunately, she has made no mention of retiring anytime soon either.  I just don't know how much more of this we're expected to put up with though, she just seems to be getting worse every year. 

VorFemme

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2013, 12:35:04 PM »
VorGuy went into the military and was supposed to go to his new base as THE X Officer in charge of the department, replacing the military officer there - there was a civilian assistant who would provide continuity between military officers in charge.

Except that she was getting older (for civil service) and the powers that be decided to give her the top slot for a "couple of years" before she retired.  VorGuy was told that he'd get the title and position when she retired.

For a little background, her elderly mother was still alive and lived with her.  VorGuy ended up leaving active duty and finding a job in the local area with a nuclear power plant a three years down the road.

When I got out of the service a year after having a baby, she was still running that office (so, about six years after her "temporary" promotoion). 

VorGuy saw an article about the time he retired from the military in 2005...the "oldest working civilian" had just retired, in their late 70s, I think it was.  It was her...and our "baby" was 21...so the "couple of years in the position" had stretched to some twenty-five years. 

Yes, she was a very cranky person...I would go over there to pick him up if we shared a car that day - it got to be easier to drive in different cars so one of us (usually me) could go home.   
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GreenEyedHawk

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2014, 12:12:18 AM »
Sorry for the threadomancy, but I wanted to update about my cranky co-worker.

I seem to have discovered the trick in dealing with her.  See, the thing is, she gets particularly scratchy about being told she's made a mistake, so whenever I find one and have to take it to her to fix (I've found several since I've been back from holidays but I can't be too hard on her after finding out her mother passed away over the holidays; not surprising she's a bit distracted) the key seems to be, instead of saying "I found a mistake" I should say "I have a question".  That way I'm not accusing her (or anyone) of having erred, just that it's me and I'm looking for clarification.

Yesterday I was checking over an order my coworker Romeo was about to pack and send out.  I checked over the paperwork and noticed the serial number listed as 214**.  I thought that was weird, as we're currently in serial numbers starting with 24, so 24***.  Sharon was right there so I said, "Sharon, is this supposed to be 241**, or did we just need to use up an old serial number?"  FTR, using old serial numbers does happen, but rarely.  Sometimes it's a long stretch of time before we sell one single unit, rather than several at once, so sometimes we get lonely singleton serial numbers that remain unused for awhile.  It's totally not unheard of, but to go back as far as 21*** when we're currently in 24*** is pretty unlikely.

Sharon just laughed and said, "Yeah, looks like I had a dyslexic moment.  I'll go take care of it."  She took the paperwork and brought it back corrected right away, no huffing, eye-rolling, or snark.  I've been sticking to my phrasing of "I have a question" rather than "there's a mistake" and she's been all around more pleasant to deal with, for me at least.
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TootsNYC

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Re: How to Deal With a Perpetually Cranky Co-worker?
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2014, 01:19:44 AM »
Oooh, thanks for the update. That sounds like a great tactic.

I think you're right, people can get defensive.