How to cope when you HATE a co-worker

<p>I am at the end of my rope. I have hated a co-worker in our tiny office since she was hired about 6 years ago. I know hate is a strong word, but actually not strong enough to describe how I feel about her. I will call her FAB which stands for something not very nice. Everyone else has felt the same and at least 3 employees have quit because of her. The boss seems to adore FAB, or is afraid to fire her. I don't know why the boss keeps her around because every single person who has worked here has complained about her. She's not good at what she does, but she does show up every day. There are only four of us including the boss. We had a fifth person who had years of experience in the field and did a fantastic job. FAB didn't speak to her for a full six months when she was first hired. Really. Not an exaggeration. </p>

<p>I have worked at this office for 23 years. I've stuck with it this long because it is near my house and was flexible for me when my kids were young. I am a single mom and it was important to work near my kids' schools. Now that the kids are grown, my parents who live in this town are aging and I feel the need to stay close by for them. Plus, if I quit, then FAB will have won. I am still single and live paycheck to paycheck. I can't afford to be "between" jobs, and I don't know what other opportunities are out there. I have a BA degree in a field unrelated to my current job, but at my age, I don't want to and can't afford to take an entry-level position. Heck, at my age, I doubt anyone would hire me to do anything.</p>

<p>I've tried crying, but that didn't help. :-) Any other suggestions?</p>

<p>It might be easier to advise if we had an idea what she does that gets to everyone. I would not let her make me quit. How often do you have to interact?</p>

<p>I don't have advice, but there were two folks at my workplace that had an "order of protection" between them!</p>

<p>Actually, I have found that FABs take care of themselves left to their own devices. Head down, smile, nod and pray. This too shall pass.</p>

<p>And naturally she shows up every day...</p>

<p>I don't even know how to explain what she does. She is dumb as a box of rocks, but you can't tell her anything. It started on day one of her employ when she was training. She would ask questions about how to do things, but then would argue with the answer of whoever was trying to train her (not just me.) Even today, she is like a trained monkey. She can go through the motions, but has no understanding of what she's doing. </p>

<p>Her husband makes a lot of money and they spend a lot of money. She makes it a point to tell us how much she pays for everything. Most of us who have come and gone are very conservative, frugal, small-town people who are not impressed by her spending. We thinks she is stupid. For example, she does not sew, but recently purchased a $6000 sewing machine. She lives in a gated community and there is always drama there and she's in the middle of it. We know because she tells us all about it. </p>

<p>Aside from not liking her personality, she is just a bully. We had a young, Hispanic receptionist, and she treated her horribly. The girl ate a yogurt that was in the break-room fridge, and FAB had a cow. The receptionist replaced it, but FAB made her life miserable. Not to mention the racial remarks behind her back. Of course, she never did it when the boss was there.</p>

<p>She makes verbal jabs at me daily, disguised in a nice way, but I know what she is doing. I just answer her like I don't get it. She attacked me in an office meeting this week over office procedure which she must have thought was my idea. It (the office procedure) actually was the boss' idea, but FAB does not know that and I did not tell her. The boss was mad that she acted that way in that setting, but I don't know what, if anything, she said to FAB privately. I love my boss, but I am baffled by her seeming adoration of FAB.</p>

<p>Today, FAB told me to mail a customer's check to a certain address. I asked her which policy number it was to be applied to. She said the one that was canceled, did you not look at it. I replied that they both were cancelled. Then we got busy. On Monday, I will have to give it to the boss and have her ask FAB for the information because I'm afraid I will tell her off. Which really sounds like a good thing, but being as we have to work together in close proximity, it would just create more tension than would be bearable.</p>

<p>And yes, she shows up every day. As do I. I haven't taken a sick day in over a year, but I feel one coming on.</p>

<p>It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that despite everyone else in the office disliking her "the boss seems to adore FAB". Certainly the "boss" must have noticed that 3 people have quit because of her. Is that a fact or your best guess as to why they quit?</p>

<p>Small offices are usually political and social minefields. It must be very stressful for you to go in every day. You have been there for 23 years so quitting is most certainly not the answer. If she has no authority over you, meaning you do not report to her, I would simply go in every day and do your job. If she antagonizes you, simply smile and go about your business. If things erupt or verbal combat becomes an every day occurrence, then I would sit down and have a heart to heart with your boss. You have been there 23 years, you most likely have more power than you think you do.</p>

<p>I think if I were you I would start a diary of some of these things that are so outrageous. There may come a time when you are asked what you think of this person, and it would be great to have some documented behavior that is obviously toxic to the group to report, rather than just giving a vague answer of dislike. And if you are asked outright by the boss, don't be afraid to speak your mind.
When I was in my 20s, we had a very negative person come on- always as sweet as pie around the male boss, but was a witch to anyone she saw as a threat. One time the boss took me out for lunch and asked my opinion of this person. I was too chicken to be honest. She really was lousy at her job as well in ways that only I knew, and I didn't say so, as I had been taught not to bad mouth people behind their backs. I look back on that as one of my biggest career mistakes. Had I been honest and not afraid to speak up, I may not have quit in disgust and probably would have had her job eventually.</p>

<p>The boss has never fired anyone; therefore, her unemployment tax (or whatever it is) is low. She knows if she fires someone, she will file for unemployment benefits and her tax would increase substantially. FAB has no authority over me, nor I over her. She is in sales and I am in service. We are about the same age. </p>

<p>This is like being in a bad marriage. In many ways, FAB reminds me of my ex-husband, but I honestly like him a lot more than I like her.</p>

<p>I just finished working on a contract in a small dept with an "FAB" that the boss also clearly adored. One of the happiest days of my life when I left. She and the boss had a sort of symbiotic relationship that is hard to describe (but I did find out that even the most innocuous request I made to the FAB for basic tasks that were in her job description were relayed on to the boss and debated between them before FAB would do anything for me). And FAB was supposed to be a lead on a project I was managing, so I was supposed to be able to request and expect certain actions from her! And the verbal jabs -- I felt like it was a great day if I got away without any backbiting or open rudeness from her. </p>

<p>I can't explain why bosses get hooked on FABs, especially when they aren't even very good at their jobs. I think in our case it was sort of like the boss was more comfortable with the devil she knew than with hiring someone else, even when that person was clearly horrible for department dynamics. I heard from others that the FAB had been rude to and driven out several others -- I know my predecessor practically danced out the door the day she left. However... I also think in our case the boss didn't really see anything wrong with the FAB's behavior, and sometime engaged in bullying or nastiness herself. Not sure if you see that in your boss or not, but in our case it explained a lot about why the FAB felt free to act that way.</p>

<p>Are you sure you can't find another position? I would not say the FAB wins if you move to a new job... you aren't winning every day you work with someone who makes you miserable. No harm in looking around a bit... you could put together a resume and create a LinkedIn account to search for jobs in your area. </p>

<p>This might be hard in a small physical office, but I would really be "too busy" if someone I didn't like wanted to brag about what they were spending or carry on a personal conversation that bugged me.</p>

<p>If she's been there six years, she is not leaving in the near future. You have probably tried every reasonable strategy to manage your feelings about her.
You could start to look for a new job just to check out the market. You have a long track record of loyalty. I think that would make you a valuable asset in a new workplace, and you could be a lot happier.</p>

<p>I would love to ignore her, but she really makes it hard. She is loud and boisterous. And a lot of times rude and crude. I am from the south where most ladies of my generation were taught to act like ladies. She obviously was never taught that. Early on, the boss did call her in and ask her to stop cursing (F word) in the office (after another co-worker complained.) FAB loved to talk down to Mary. FAB would make comments about how much she loved some expensive store and tell Mary she would like it, too, but, "Never mind, you buy your clothes at Walmart." Mary is a down-to-earth person who did not spend frivolously, but Mary and her husband are millionaires. FAB hurt Mary's feelings on numerous occasions. The boss told Mary to give it right back to her. But Mary told the boss she would not stoop to FAB's level. Mary retired a few years earlier than she had planned to to get away from FAB. I think Mary danced out the door, too!</p>

<p>The boss is well aware that we all have problems with FAB, whether or not the ones who quit told her FAB was the reason why.</p>

<p>My boss is a deeply religious Christian. She does a good job of not "preaching" to us or bringing religion into the office, but I sometimes wonder if she feels like FAB is a "project" that needs Christian influence. She has never said anything, but that's just one explanation we have come up with for why she feels obligated to keep FAB around.</p>

<p>Maybe FAB is her penance... unfortunately, this makes FAB your penance as well.</p>

<p>Just to be clear, is this a small company where the boss is the owner? Or a small office within a larger company that has an HR department? Guessing it is the first, but worth asking, as dealing with these types of issues is one reason larger companies have HR departments.</p>

<p>Boss is the owner. I do feel like the boss values me as a person and an employee. She has told me as much, which is one reason I've stuck it out as long as I have.</p>

<p>Thanks for all your responses. I feel better just talking about it. I will re-read this thread Sunday night to prepare for Monday morning! lol</p>

<p>music- I am in a very similar situation but a large company. I am guessing there is alot of similar situations at jobs. I have found that trying hard to ignore the drama and get busy elsewhere is helpful. And have something to look forward to at home helps. A new hobby, a winter sport, etc. Easier said than done.</p>

<p>
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She knows if she fires someone, she will file for unemployment benefits and her tax would increase substantially.

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</p>

<p>That's odd. I don't know about Texas, but in NY and Massachusetts, if one was fired for "just cause", one cannot collect unemployment benefits. </p>

<p>This was clearly stated on the forms to apply for unemployment in both states in the early-mid '00s.</p>

<p>Musicmom, I really feel your pain. I had to endure a jerk of a boss for a couple of years until I found an escape route. I recommend reading "The No A*<em>hole Rule" by professor Robert Sutton (just replace each '</em>" with an "s"). If you feel that talking to us here has a therapeutic effect, reading the book will most likely be therapeutic as well.</p>

<p>cobrat, WA has the same policy about unemployment benefits: one can not get a penny from the state if s/he is fired for cause.</p>

<p>So sorry your work life is miserable. I think working in a small office is tough because you really can't ignore the personalities--there is literally no way to avoid people because the physical space is too small.</p>

<p>I worked in a toxic environment for three years (crazy boss who could be extremely mean and manipulative) and finally decided for my sanity's sake I would take a huge pay cut and get out of there. I had gotten to the point that I really didn't like people anymore (and I'm a people person) and that's when I realized I needed to leave. It took me about six months to get back to my normal self and liked being around people again.</p>

<p>No job is perfect and I'm currently in a much larger office but I still have to deal with some people I don't like. Luckily, none of them are mean. This is going to sound dumb but the way I deal with them is to treat my office as a sitcom and view my co-workers as characters in my sitcom. That way I can enjoy their quirky habits and find them entertaining/endearing even though they do, occassionally, annoy me. I guess I must treat myself as a character also because I don't take their behavior personally--I just assume it's part of what makes them unique and don't let it bother me too much. </p>

<p>When I worked for the crazy boss I kept a journal on my home computer about the horrible things my boss did. I never did anything with it but it really helped me just get the words out of my brain and onto the computer. It was like verbal vomit and I felt much better after doing it. I also had a co-worker who is still my friend and we used to walk at lunch and vent. Venting helps tremendously even though nothing can be solved when you're dealing with a crazy person (or a FAB in your case).</p>

<p>Good luck and I hope you're able to figure out a way to make your job tolerable. It is horrible to be walking on egg shells all day because you don't want to be noticed by a FAB.</p>