Social Question

broncosgirl's avatar

How to deal with a grumpy co-worker?

Asked by broncosgirl (712points) August 9th, 2010

I work in a big hospital that is also a teaching hospital (nurse and doctor interns). I have worked here a few months, and though I’m not the best most experienced person there, I work hard and I am easy to get along with. One co-worker in particular is very mean. No matter what you do, she won’t play nicely. You say hi, she looks at you and walks the other direction. You ask how she is, you get a short snotty remark. I am not the only one she behaves like this towards, and I get complaints from interns and co-workers alike about this woman. So I guess my question is how do I deal? I don’t mind that for whatever reason she doesn’t like me, but the childish behavior has no place in a professional environment as an adult. Do I speak with my supervisor? Do I ignore it and let her continue to treat myself and others badly? Minus three friends she works with, no one seems to be able to do anything worthy of getting her to be polite. It rubs me the wrong way because it is unecessary, and I would love to know any advice you have for me.

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14 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I have taken on these sorts in the workplace as a personal challenge: not only to be unfailingly kind to them but to go out of my way to be courteous, helpful, and even warm to them. I have actually made friends of them. I think treating them sweetly and with sincere caring is really the only solution. They must be very unhappy to act that way.

For sure, the opposite will never work, and neither will attempts to force them to behave better. Leave that to their supervisors.

Even if they don’t end up loving you, hugging you, and giving you presents, or crying when you leave, you won’t be the worse for repaying rude, boorish behavior with sweet gentleness.

Likeradar's avatar

Is her attitude effecting your work?
If not, I don’t think there’s much you can or should do.
Not being friendly isn’t a crime. If her short and snotty comments are getting you down, you can make the choice to not hear them by not asking her any more unnecessary questions. Don’t be mean, just disengage.
In pretty much every work situation there’s going to be someone who rubs people the wrong way. Just make the decision that it won’t bother you anymore, unless it directly effects (affects? I never know) your work.

Jeruba's avatar

affecting . . . affects

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

How do you change someone’s personality?? Good luck with that.;)
I’d ignore her…or if I got bored,play around with getting her to talk people like that can be fun to experiment with if you have the right mindset

ucme's avatar

Kill her & do it now before it’s too late. It really is the only way…..........with kindness I mean. What? Oh you didn’t think that I actually meant you should kill her? No no no no…..perish the thought ;¬}

marinelife's avatar

You can try Jeruba’s way or you can try not engaging with her at all except when it is forced by work.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

First recognize only you can allow her to rub you the wrong way. So she’s a grump, don’t let her make you a grump as well. Once you get that in your mind, she shouldn’t bother you. Let her do her thing, you do your thing.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The challenge in dealing with different personality types is that it normally isn’t something against standards. It’s one thing if the patients complain about her bedside manner and a whole other matter if it is co-workers. My advice is that if you do need to vent, go to your supervisor and expect nothing more than someone who will listen to you. Talking about it with other co-workers is nonproductive.

Unless you care enough about this person to pull them aside and let them know how it makes you feel when they act in this manner, there’s not much more you can do. You might even learn something about them. Jeruba’s advice is the proper way to go, and it should come with the disclaimer of, “expect the worst, and hope for the best.” It is difficult, if not impossible, to change someone else’s behavior. And as a friend says, “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

One more thought. Maybe she is a no-nonsense person who is totally focused on her patients/workload and finds the small chit-chat distracting and a waste of time. Both my SO and I are like that to some degree. I try to live by The Platinum Rule – “do unto others as they want done to them”. I used to go into work early in order to plot out the day, get some immediate tasks done, and then as co-workers started rolling in and wanted to chat about their weekend, I felt less stressed about getting to all of the work-related items that needed to be accomplished. It was a small sacrifice to make if it made them happier.

kevbo's avatar

The reality is that nearly every work environment, and especially those fostered by large employers systemically turn a blind eye to childish and rude behavior. I don’t know why, other than managers not seeing it as an actionable priority, but that is the way it is. Unless she is screwing up with patients, I would not expect change you can believe in.

I’ve been there, and I understand what a damned energy drain it can be. I’m sure it’s more difficult in your case since so many interactions are face to face instead of by e-mail, phone, etc.

Unless you’ve dealt with abuse and/or dysfunction before, you really can’t recognize it as such. That probably factors in here. This person is playing by different rules that are normal for her. Some people like this will only respect you if they sense you are playing by the same rules. In a twisted way, you barking back validates their point of view which, in turn, validates their identity. So then you are okay to deal with. I’ve found myself having to do this from time to time with my gf who has baggage, but I do it in a way such that she knows I’m joking, and we can laugh about it. So I don’t have to fight with her for the billionth time about why her sister isn’t a supermodel and she isn’t a dog. I can just say “yes, you are a dog; I hardly know why I’m with you” and we can laugh and move on. Just an illustration.

So regardless of your tack, recognize that the challenge here is minimizing the energy drain on yourself for having to deal with this person. If doing nothing or the same will not reduce the drain, figure out what will and how much of a drain you can live with.

jca's avatar

i have had coworkers that had reputations as being rude and cold, and i found that when i said hello and went out of my way, they would warm up to me, and we turned out to have great relationships.

however, if i go out of my way to be nice to someone, say hello, etc., as you have and still get the cold shoulder, then i ignore them from then on, or maybe say hello and leave it at that.

CMaz's avatar

Give that person a hug. Get them an ice cream.

YARNLADY's avatar

Follow the advice from @Jeruba . I once found out the rudest, grouchiest woman at work was working because her husband was terminally ill, and they had no insurance or savings. She hated every minute she had to be away from him.

papasan's avatar

Some you can just ignore and some you just have to set straight. It depends, some people are just miserable and have a need to share that misery. It’s a whole different story when that some one is your boss and you are forced to set limits on just how much abuse you can take.
Some can be disrespectful, rude and mean. It is at this point when you must confront that individual and set him or her straight, other wise you will be just as miserable if not more so. If you show respect for others, there is no reason why you shouldn’t receive it in return.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I do have a co-worker that used to be like that. I would say hello to her and ask “how are you” or “nice day, isn’t it” or whatever, even though she didn’t respond. And I would do it every time, just as pleasant as ever. It was my way of saying “f*** you! You can’t ruin my day.” But whatever, she started also exchanging polite conversation, and now we even sometimes will chat.

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