Livid at Work

27 Jan

Letterbalm Two Angry WomenDear LetterBalm: I’m lucky to have a wonderful job, but it comes at a high cost. I work with two women who hate each other, and I’m not exaggerating. The level of vitriol and arguments is staggering. It’s just luck they haven’t come to blows. Each woman is difficult, but they haven’t shown their animosity in front of our clients – yet. Their anger has negatively affected others in the office. I’ve been able to navigate between them because I’m fairly easygoing and I’ve applied strategies on how to get along in office settings. I need to voice my concerns to my boss, but I’ll get only one shot, and the women are likely to be pretty angry at me for doing so. I need advice here.

–Fight or Flight

It’s admirable that you can get along with two such destructive co-workers. But you can’t just be polite; you have to protect your own job situation. You have to tell them in no uncertain terms to cease and desist when their animosity threatens your productivity or concentration. Tell your co-workers to do the same. The collective backbone may well shut down their nasty behavior. Ms. L.B. says you might consider pressing your advantage. Keep a private detailed diary of incidents when their actions have spilled onto other workers or affected projects, deadlines, productivity, absenteeism or morale. If the warnings don’t work, join with several colleagues (who are good, respected workers) and take your documented concerns to your boss. Something like this:

Madelyn, we asked for this meeting because there is a situation in the office between Rose and Rachel that is creating a serious negative climate. The two of them are antagonistic toward each other, using sarcasm and biting comments that have spilled over onto the rest of the team. They simply cannot control their dislike of each other. We all have told them in no uncertain terms to stop when their behavior gets so poisonous and disruptive that we can’t do our jobs well. This works for awhile, but they start up again. We’re concerned about office morale and productivity, which could have a terrible impact on client service. Here are eight documented incidents and dates for your review. We all want an effective workplace. Frankly, we need an intervention.

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