General Question

Fernspider's avatar

Work conflict, how should I deal with this?

Asked by Fernspider (3597points) April 25th, 2010

Should I deal with it at all?

I work in an open office environment where no members of the public have access.

I admit to being a bit of a clown in the office and am liked by everyone who immediately works around me.

Around the corner, a woman works in a different department who is (from my observation) quite high strung. She stomps around and literally jumps by fright when others come near her at the kitchenette to grab a spoon or whatever.

I don’t really talk to her, barely see her and definitely have no work or non work related correspondence with her.

She recently had a falling out with the other woman in her team (team of two) who now has to sit in our department because things became so tense between them.

This morning, I was about to conduct a judicial conference over the phone when two people in our floor were discussing their weekends loudly. I asked if they could conduct their conversations in another area or more quietly due to my phone obligation. The woman who I have been referring to (we shall call Alana) suddenly said as she was walking past “Oh the nerve, like you are never loud~” in a really rude way in front of everyone. She continued walking back to her area as she said it – very passive agressive in my opinion.

Everyone is saying I should let it go but I personally feel a heightened sense of emotion. Anger and disbelief really. I want to confront her and tell her that I thought her comments were bullying and unprofessional. That if she has an issue with my office conduct, she should address it with me.

What would you do? What is the best course of action in your opinion?

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29 Answers

netgrrl's avatar

Meh. Don’t give her what she wants – the idea that her words could have affected you in any way. Do the bigger thing in this case and shrug it off.

cockswain's avatar

I would let it go. If you went up to her to discuss a flippant remark made in passing several days ago, you will appear to be very confrontational and petty. It sounds like she annoys the crap out of you, so you give her less grease than you might someone else. The time to address something like that is calmly and reasonably as soon as it happens.

Fernspider's avatar

@cockswain – I agree… that is why I want to address it now. It happened about 20 minutes ago. One of my collegaues has suggested talking to her tomorrow but I feel like leaving it will seem petty.

cockswain's avatar

Oh. I assumed it happened on Friday or something. I guess if you’re going to say something, now is the time. Just remain super calm and smile a lot. Even if she gets worked up, continue to smile. She’s unlikely to say anything like it in the future if she thinks it could bring even a mild confrontation.

Trillian's avatar

Oh hell no. This is unacceptable. It’s too late now, of course. What I would have done is to cover the mouthpiece of the phone and say “We will discuss this in front of…. when I am finished with this call.”
You then give a heads up to the supervisor that you want to address a behaviour with a co worker in front of a witness. In the supervisors office, calmly but with a no-nonsense attitude, you point out the behaviour only, say that it is unacceptable and that you consider it a personal attack. You will let it go this time, but she is now to understand that any further unsolicited comments directed at you or about you will be written up. Or whatever the office policy calls for. you then ask her if she has any questions or would she like to make any statements. Shake hands, thank the sup, see if the sup has any comments, close the meeting. Do not discuss it with anyone else, then or ever.
You’re right. it is passive aggressive in that you would be reduced to calling after her back. Keep it professional and let her know that this sort of thing will not be tolerated. If she has any issues with you, she is welcome to discuss them in a professional setting.

Fernspider's avatar

@Trillian – This was my initial reaction (action to take). Is there a chance that I may appear childish to the superior/management? Like I am one of those employees to makes a big deal out of insidences like this.

I remember when I found a post it note on the door to the womans toilets saying “Dear Friend, there are cameras operating in the womans toilets. From Anon.”

I was really freaked out and ended up taking the note to the boss and he laughed and said it was probably a joke and shouldn’t make it a big deal. I found out that it was a joke but I thought it was inappropriate.

marinelife's avatar

She is probably in trouble doe to the conflict with the other co-worker. Obviously, she has a problem interacting with her fellow co-workers.

Lacking @Trillian‘s option (since the time has passed for that), I would go to the supervisor and recount the event and ask him or her to speak to this person.

filmfann's avatar

This would be my approach:
Bring in donuts or something. Take them to her desk, and give them to her (enough for her to share with the office). Tell her you are sorry about the other day, but it was a business call, and you needed to sound professional on the phone. Tell her you are sorry that it upset her, if it did.
By doing this, you are keeping a good work relationship with her, you are making her feel like she was right, but also reminding her of the importance of professional conduct.
You might even make a friend.
To confront her, and tell her off will accomplish nothing, and will just build hard feelings.

Fernspider's avatar

This is the other problem, her boss is a person in the office that I am friends with. He is very unconfrontational. He was there when it happened and I calmy told him privately that I felt her behaviour was uncalled for and unprofessional and that I wanted it dealt with.

He has told me to let it go and not address it with her. My only option is to approach her boss’s boss… now that will be kicking up dust!

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just concentrate on your work and let others work on thiers.

marinelife's avatar

@Rachienz If you boss has told you to let it go, then you have no choice but to do so. Do NOT go over your boss’ head to the boss’ boss over this. You will come out looking very bad.

Fernspider's avatar

On a side note… the man I asked to quiet down while I was on the phone is a man that Alana has an obvious infactuation for. She apparently followed him to the lift to ask if he was ok. He of course was ok but he told me afterwards that she can be a bit strange.

Fernspider's avatar

@marinelife – her boss and my boss are not one and the same. My boss is on sick leave today. Her boss is a friend of mine in the office. Just makes things complicated. Like mentioned before, we work in different departments in the same office. Different reporting lines completely.

Trillian's avatar

@filmfann‘s suggestion is a good one. My time in the military gives me a stricter idea about what is acceptable and what is not. Take that into consideration when you read my comments. That crap would not fly in a military setting, but I sometimes forget that I am no longer in the military.

Fernspider's avatar

Thank you everyone for assisting me with my dilema. Now that I have vented to you all, I feel much better and think I will let this one go.

If a pattern occurs and further unessesary comments are made, I will take the issue to be personal and make a complaint.

cockswain's avatar

you could switch a bunch of common letters on her keyboard around. there’s also a program out there somewhere you could download to her computer that will periodically turn her mouse pointer into a middle finger for a moment

Fernspider's avatar

@cockswain – LOL – slowly make her think she is losing her mind… hmmmm

deni's avatar

i would do a “psh!” and then let it go. if she says anything else like that, then i’d confront her.

jazmina88's avatar

Let it go…..let your friend, her boss said.

It is not good to bring up matters like this, ever. remain professional.

zophu's avatar

The best thing you can do with a passive aggressive person you’re not responsible for is to not be bothered by them. Or make it seem like you’re not bothered by them. If you’re lucky, she’ll gradually escalate her aggressiveness, look the fool, and learn a lesson.

Response moderated
DarkScribe's avatar

The time for any sort of response was immediately, not hours or days later. At this stage – let it go. You will just look petty and foolish if you continue.

Fernspider's avatar

@thriftymaid – I am a third grader. Your advise is so helpful and not very antagonistic whatsoever~. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it is nice to get advise from others who are not emotionally fueled from the situation.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You could send her manager an e-mail, explaining that you were trying to conduct a judicial review (which I assume you are paid to do) and asked coworkers to keep their private conversation from being boisterous, and you feel Alana’s insinuation that loud voices from coworkers is appropriate background noise when you are trying to conduct business.

Or you could just let it go, tell your manager about it, and hope that the thin ice Alana’s skating on breaks underneath her sooner rather than later.

Cruiser's avatar

You essentially have a no win situation. Not everybody will get along in a company that is a simple fact. Some people undies are just too tight and will let other people get under their skin. This lady is a Johnny come lately to your turf but you also bend the protocol of a business “environment” with your loud antics and that is hardly defensible in front of supervisors. Her behavior is childish and less than professional but IMO not something that can be enforced to change. People are entitled to their opinions and the bigger person would consider why that persons feels the way they do about you and or the situation at hand. It takes a lot to back down from a conflict and just let something perhaps not worth the aggravation slide!

thriftymaid's avatar

@Rachienz . There will be an Alana in most every office. It indeed sounds more like elementary school stuff than office stuff. Also, if someone who worked for me came to me to “tattle” on “Alana,” my opinion of the tattler would immediately lower. My advise was, and still is, be an adult in the office.

skfinkel's avatar

I agree in general with @filmfann in that I would treat the situation in a positive way—bring her something to eat that she likes and you can share. Talk with her one on one and tell her you didn’t realize that you had been bothering her in any way—now you are glad you know and you will tone it down. You can make a friend of her and not develop an enemy.

lilikoi's avatar

I am assuming you were conducting this conversation over a landline connection at your desk. In this case, it is reasonable to ask others to pipe down so you can take your work-related call.

“Alana” may have been joking and meant no offense, but you perceived it as rude. Maybe she is not good with people. Or, maybe you are really loud and you do the same thing as the two having the conversation all the time and inconvenience her or other people in the office. You said you were an office “clown” and perhaps others find you disruptive.

Let it go – or risk earning yourself a reputation for being high strung and uptight – and ask yourself whether or not your voice level in the office is always appropriate and if you are always respectful of others regarding non-work-related noise / banter.

martyjacobs's avatar

On the whole I think the advice here is sound. However, if someone was rude to me at work I’d let them know I was unhappy, but in a diplomatic manner. If you let people get away with this kind of behaviour, then they’ll just start to think that behaving in this manner is acceptable.

If you feel strongly about the matter go to your line manager and ask him to sort it. This is what they’re paid for, well partly. Sounds like you might have done this already?

If the problem persists and your line manager does nothing about it, tell him you’ll have to go to your HR department or his line manager. Give him another oppuritunty to address the issue. If he doesn’t, go and speak to HR or his line manager.

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