Leadership

Familiarity can breed contempt among co-workers

If familiarity breeds contempt, then the modern workplace is a veritable petri dish for derision. Since many of us spend most of our days in the company of co-workers, how can we resist the urge to let everything about them irritate us?

If familiarity breeds contempt, then the modern workplace is a veritable petri dish for derision. Since many of us spend most of our days in the company of co-workers, how can we resist the urge to let everything about them irritate us?

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The Greek fabulist Aesop is the one who is most often credited with coining the saying "Familiarity breeds contempt." It is also the first historical evidence of an ancient office cubicle system.

Oh, I kid about the cubicle. But it is a fact that the daily, forced proximity of a bunch of people with only job roles in common can be a breeding ground for hostility and irritation. When our Programming and Development blogger Justin James polled his fellow programmers about what stresses them out the most, the prevailing choice was co-workers/management. Why?

The fact is that many of us spend more of our waking hours with our co-workers than we do with our families. Over time, the interesting quirks and behaviors of our co-workers can become insanely irritating. But what can you do? Well, it depends on the behavior.

If a co-worker is constantly fielding personal calls at the office, that behavior is unacceptable and should be changed. In other words, you are justified in your irritation. But if a co-worker happens to have an irritating laugh or is a serial sneezer, for example, then you're better off finding a way on your own of assuaging your irritation because those behaviors may not be controllable. In other words, you'll need to change your own expectations.

I found this interesting nugget on a Web site called thebecompany that talks about why people get irritated:

What does someone who is irritated go through? He or she is in a situation that does not call forth the expected outcome. There is a difference between a standard or expectation, and what really happens. So far so good. Only, this is not the end. The personality of this person wants to change this situation that so obviously does not meet his personal standards and values or ways in which he can expect pleasant or right outcomes. He wants to make such a change that the outcome then can make him feel in charge again, while his world reflects his standards and values as close as possible.

The more controlling a person is, I imagine, the more irritated he is when the actions of others don't reflect his expectations. So, when a situation arises, ask yourself first if the behavior needs to change. Be objective. Does it interrupt your work and that of others? Does the behavior impede your productivity and others in the office? Or is it merely something that reminds you of your horrid ex mother-in-law? Explore your motivations. If you're irritated for subjective reasons, take a deep breath and think of something you really like about the "offender" instead. Change your expectations -- it's easier than changing other people.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

84 comments
Randy1953
Randy1953

I once had a team mate who liked to come in my office and "break wind". He was the type who loved to show disrepect to authority. The last time he did it I told him to get out and go "pinch a loaf". The smirks and laughter of his coworkers embarrased him more than me and now my office is "fart free"!

shameemakhtar
shameemakhtar

We have one very interesting philosophy to counter that and that goes beyond the office space and applies for every other relationship: whenever you find something bad about someone, ensure you find ten good points to counter it. At the end of the ten points you will notice that true, for these ten points, the one bad point is not so bad after all...

cycladelec
cycladelec

Hmm - familiarity??? contempt??? might help if they were defined. I don't think the post really talks about either - just matters to consider when working together. And a single response poll about stressors is not evidence to build a case for annoyance or irritation. They may overlap, but are not the same. Generally annoyance over little things arise out of a deeper sense of dissatisfaction over something that is not necessarily work related. Communication and effective leadership and management should be promoted rather than "change your expectations"

sp4566
sp4566

Excellent insight!

jon
jon

The reverse can also be quite true. I was recently "asked to resign" from a major (or so they think) credit card processing company in Sydney for precisely this reason. The rest of the "team" were the "Friday pissup" types, going to lunch at midday and not coming back, etc. I prefered to go home to my two young daughters, which made me "not a team player". After 18 months of being ignored and ignoring other less competant members of the team, I was told to "jump before you are pushed".

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Do your job and leave the butt heads behind. I made sure I had a white board and kept a running total of the days of my engagement with a company. When one of these morons would stumble into my office I would tune them out, smile and look at my count down number on the white board, just waiting for them to run down and leave. I was a contractor once, before I became a consultant. This was what opened my eyes after seeing a number of companies and noticing that I could take home much more money being independent and take less crap. When you as a contractor stand back and watch you notice that 20% to 30% of the people in a compnay are dragging the rest of the lazy idiots along. Work for youself and leave the dead weight and politics behind. Why help pay their salaries? If you have to, work for very small companies, they can't afford the morons and either don't hire them or fire them when they see their true colors. Consulting was my best move, more pay, less hassle, little politics etc. etc. The trade off is you really, really have to know your "stuff" and be very sharp at the business end. This contempt issue becomes a non-issue as a consultant. I have actually had non-contact written into my contracts if there was an especially egregious, obnoxious idiot at a location. They assigned a keeper for this moron to keep him out of my way. Sweet!

cbellur
cbellur

The thing that really tears it with me is when managers who are hands off doubt technical facts and offer ridiculous solutions that they pull out of their asses. We had a really bad manager who was hands off, but I guess was insecure, so he pretended to be hands on. So everyone on the team would agree to a solution, and he would doubt us, and propose something ridiculous. People protested, but in the corporate world you follow the chief. This guy has been removed from his position, and we're still cleaning up all the idiotic ideas that he forced on us, because it took too long to get him ousted. The other obnoxious thing is that this manager would agree with only one engineer, who was equally clueless, but had decades of experience with irrelevant technologies (to our application). But none of them knew better, and this engineer just wants more power. Clusterf#$k is the term that describes this best. Or "Allegory of the Cave" for those who are into Plato. I just can't get enough Plato, personally... But yeah, this guy couldn't tell the differences between the shadows and reality, and he trusted the shadows...

travellingpolander
travellingpolander

I had a new comer boss whom I have to report with, but rather than addressing his IT concerns with me (and that of the whole organization) - he goes rather talk to our HR "IT" know-how for solutions than to me. So much for delegation...

dbecker
dbecker

The people I work with at my level are a delight. They are reasonable to work with and I often take difficult situations to them to assist me in making personal decisions. There are centuries of competent available here. My "roommate" is originally from India. We have the greatest discussions together, and, he has a really GREAT sense of humor. It doesn't hurt a bit that he is one of the most brilliant guys ever. He's made life here a greater joy. The only people I can't endure [that well] are those from management and HR. The primary problem, I think, that we just can't get along is that they are absolute liars. That just makes things so difficult. There's not much call in the technical work I do for such folk -- and I must say, they not only aren't that much help at all, but you can't depend on them for much of anything. There are two fortunate things, though. First, we've all learned to work around them and keep the place going in pretty good shape. We know they are the enemy and make adjustments as necessary. The other thing is the amusement they provide us. It is so GREAT to have the DSM-IV handy to specify exactly WHICH mental disorder they have so we can find the right prescriptions to work around them and get our job done [even when they completely corrupt the budget and make it near impossible]. It would be better for us all, of course, and for them, if they got the treatment and meds they need, but in the world as it is today, who can tell the difference between management behavior and that of those who have been properly diagnosed and are in competent hands of mental health professionals.

jhoward
jhoward

I make sure I go to lunch as much as possible to avoid everyone.

jkameleon
jkameleon

... by such utterly unimportant things as co-resources, you don't belong into IT in the first place.

pgit
pgit

Don't forget, you are irritating to others as well. That's what I concentrate on, am I being irritating? If so, how can I prevent it? I know an office that's all ganged up on one of the other workers, seemingly randomly. It's almost like a pride of cats, seeking to drive out this "extra mouth to feed." They'd successfully driven out the low man on the totem poll and have now set their sights on this one. They claim they're motivated by the irritating things this person does, but the examples they give, it turns out, are not based in fact. How's that for "irritating behavior;" a collective hatred that's developed because it inadvertently works toward job security...

brianmilke
brianmilke

I have worked in many different situations, the cubicle farm, the private office area, and the communal area where everyone meets to figure out their day, and returns for spare parts, job reassignments, and to change to go home. In any of these situations, there will always be people who irritate me to no end. The silver lining to this storm cloud for me is to laugh. To realize that this is human nature to feel the way that I do, and it is human nature for that other person, the one who is currently irritating mem do do whatever it is that is irritating. The potential to find unplesantness in someone else is far greater than the need to find something funny or good about that person. It is simply something that we have been trained to do all out lives. How often has there been a situation at work where something gets broken, and management doesn't look for ways to prevent this from happening, changing the way things are done, and instead looks for someone to blame? This is the same sort of behavorial thinking that brings us to loathe the person for whatever is irritating you. You are blaming them for how you feel. You feel exactly the way you CHOOSE to feel. No one, and no action from anyone can change that. Stop looking for someone to blame other than yourself for how you feel and instead, look for ways to change the way you look at things, and you will be much happier for it. If someone is an annoying talker, yet demands silence when they are working, think of what it must be like at their house. Imagine 3-4 bratty kids talking it up during movies, dad's quiet time, or whenever the situation demands silence and yet there is just the din of family life. Think of what he has waiting for him at home, and your mood should change immediately. Don't be sorry for that person, just laugh at the situation. Irony is too much fun to ignore!

david.walker2
david.walker2

I DO work witha a serial sneezer. Not just three or four sneezes, but upward of 10 at a time. I call it sneezing for sympathy. The way I keep my team members from the "familiarity breeds contempt" stage is simple: We work together. We do not socialize. No after work drinks, no weekend get-togethers. I don't know where they live, they don't know where I live. I've found it works best this way.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

I simply keep in mind that that everyone else around me is probably just as human ... and therefore as fallible and imperfect ... as I am. There are a lot of things about others that can bother me, if I let it. But a work place is a work place. And I have neither the right nor the reasonable and logical expectation that everyone else has to look, smell, speak, think, act, and believe just exactly as I think they should. Or to then think there is something necessarily wrong with them if they do not meet MY expectations. At work, as long as the behavior or characteristic does not DIRECTLY interfere with my own work, I ignore it. If I do not, and CAN NOT, I consider it a matter of my own, personal failure and weakness. A lack of self control and self discipline. The only real fault present ... is mine. That's just the way I look at these things.

mattohare
mattohare

It's not just familiarity, but basic respect and communication. We all have our issues. We all have areas to grow. First we have the respect, then we make the effort. The difference between good and bad working relationships has really come to that.

jck
jck

When someone will expect you to be quiet near their work area and openly show it with aggressive actions, yet when they want to come chatter outside your office for 20-30 it is their right. God, someone's mother needed to be slapped for letting someone grow up thinking that way.

denniscolburn
denniscolburn

Interesting post. Working closely with people can be challenging. You don't get to choose all of your co-workers like you choose your friends.

erysipelothrix
erysipelothrix

There are two things that really seem to bother people at my office (besides a nasty disposition): 1. A loud cackling (almost screaming) laugh. 2. Know-it-all exaggerators. I work with many scientists, engineers, physicists, and mathematicians who have up to PhD levels of education but are extremely humble and decent people. We have a few younger employees who feel the need to brag, exaggerate, and lie about their accomplishments. One in particular is a real douche bag and is oblivious to the fact he is the brunt of many jokes. He would have to be 500 years old to have his feigned level of experience.

snideley59
snideley59

I spent the first 14 years of my professional life as a contractor working for the Feds as a systems engineer. You know, taking a lot of different software developed by different groups and integrating them so that they "played nice" with each other (both the software and the respective development teams. Got to the point where I discovered that when I got promoted to project manager, my typical solution to an issue was to work longer and do it myself, since it was easier to do that than to get some lazy SOB to actually perform and I was getting no support from the customer management up the line (the Feds, recall?). So I fell back on my hobby, which was/is computer system administration and networking and decided to start my own business. This is when I discovered that although I am very technically proficient, I absolutely suck as a businessman. Not a good combo for things like meeting mortgage payments, etc. So I'm back working for the Feds as a contractor and doing very cool technical work in the IT field, and avoid management duties like the plague. I am far better suited to being technical lead on large projects than assuming a management role. Of course, by virtue of this stance, I have allowed potential promotions to pass me by since I refuse to join the Powerpoint Engineer career path, but I'm happy. Also, as a result of this stance, I've met the gamut of aspiring managers. Some are actually very good. These get promoted up the chain to where they lose contact with your technical ability. Often the backwash created by these justly deserved promotions sucks in a lot of tech "wannabees" who should just go bask on their "kiss ass laurels" and let me keep the diesels running rather than making me implement decisions which I know to be foolish. They usually last long enough to make the job of cleaning up after them difficult, but not impossible. So I would agree with mikifinaz1 with the exception that I suck as a businessman. Without that skill set you can be the most technically proficient dude that there is, and still fall on your face

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Chuckle, nice if you can pull it off and still get all your work done. I don't go out to lunch. I'm a brown bagger. I'm not fond of most fast food joints and regular restaurants take too much time for a work day lunch. Unless its a business lunch. Fortunately, for me, these days I am "out of the office" most of the time. And like it that way. In my line of work, I'm hired out to customers to do work for them. So mostly, I'm at some customer's location. And when I do need to do some general office work, catch up on my company paperwork, etc ... most often these days I do that at home, sitting at my desk in my den. Gotta go in and attend meetings from time to time, or for training sessions. But I generally stay out of the home office as much as possible. That way I can avoid office politics, the various cliques, the inter-departmental back stabbing, and so forth. Can also avoid someone important asking me silly questions like, "What's your opinion about ..." Gad, I try to avoid that. Because if asked, I'll give an honest answer. Which is likely not what the person asking wants to hear. The way I like things ... "Where's Osiyo?", answer, "Oh, he's over at a customer's building working his tail off. That project will be on time, within budget, and will work fine and last a long time." That's all they need to know about me. All I need to know about them is that when I call or send an email requesting parts/materials they'll be obtained and sent to me promptly. Oh, and that they sign my check on time.

ottersmoo
ottersmoo

I am going to beg to differ with the people who seem to think they have complete control over their feelings. Bull-pucky. To say that you ALWAYS choose how you feel about something is to say that you are an island. That you are completely unaffected by other people around you. That you have completely detached yourself from the human race. Don't get me wrong, I believe in taking personal responsibility for my own reactions to things but I will not make the claim that I never get angry over what someone else says or feel love and laughter because of what someone else does. We ARE human and emotions are part of being a human being. And one human being affects another human being. I just think there are respectful and mature ways of dealing with the irritation you feel in any situation and THAT'S what you choose. You don't choose to be angry - you choose how you deal with it when someone makes you angry.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

I had to quote that. It's SO TRUE. I find myself looking for irony JUST so I can find the humor in it. I do this most often when I put on my politcal glasses (and regardless of what end of the political spectrum you are on, you can find and laugh about irony).

debposton
debposton

I am with David. The workplace is the workplace. I do not socialize on the outside with them. You spend 8, 10, 12 and sometimes 16 hours a day there....I do not want to go eat supper and talk about work for another hour or 2. I am fortunate to have a door...and I close it A LOT. I am not ugly to them...we talk at break and between visits to the copier but I have found that I go to work to work is the best for me. The one issue that bothers me the most is all the drama. Somethings are better left at home or at least not spoken. Gossip will kill your team and in my department...that is not permitted. We talk accomplishments and we discuss how to improvement our failures (we learn from our mistakes), however, only if it is work related.

mattie289404
mattie289404

Dang don't beat yourself up over it, sometimes it is them and not you..I hope you don't think all things in life that don't go your way are your fault, that would be a miserable life.

Andrew Houghton
Andrew Houghton

The person in the cubicle across from me, I recently found out, is like this. I'm collaborating with another colleague on a new architecture that requires that we have impromptu conversations in either of our offices to insure we are in sync and things are not overlooked. The person across from me expects people to be quiet near their office, but will talk in the aisle or other co-worker's office about work and non-work related topics. Since they didn't like me collaborating with my colleague about our work related project, they sent a cease and desist e-mail to our respective managers. They never bothered to talk to either of us first, so we were blindsided by situation. In something out of Dilbert cartoon, I'm not allowed to talk in my office. When I get phone calls, internal or external, I have to divert them to voice mail and answer them by e-mail or call them back from another location. When someone comes in my office to talk with me about work related topics I have to tell them that we can either talk in their office, walk down 4 floors to the cafeteria, schedule a conference room, or they can e-mail me. When this recently happened I was livid with this co-worker. They didn't have the decency to talk with either of us to give us a chance to rectify the situation. I think I'm a pretty reasonable person and I can understand a person being irrated if we were persistently talking about non-work related topics, but we are collaborating on an active project. Rather than inflame the situation I decided to take a deep breath, do a little introspection and haven't said anything to this co-worker. The situation is a little difficult to swallow and at this point I somewhat feel that I'm being punished for actually doing my job. Given this timely article I'm trying to figure out whether I should just let this go and live with the consequences or this is something that I should persue with this co-worker or not. One thing for sure is that this co-worker has lost my respect. I will treat them in a professional manner, but will never trust them again. FYI, I did ask my manager if this co-worker has a problem with work related discussion happening around them, why don't they move their office to some place where there is less discussion. Response, wasn't an option, and neither was moving me to another office.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

Intimidation is a tough one to deal with and frankly, that's not one you should have to work with. It's hard to "call out" a person like that. What if they're serious when they say "shut up or I'll rip your lips off". I know a couple of meatheads that are just that serious (though not in my office). I'd like to hear someone comment on this...a creative thinker. Not so much a revenge way of dealing with him (for example, letting all the air out of his tires while he's working) but a professional way. This bully-type of situation isn't even possible to bring up to the boss. The person is not going to get fired so now that you've "ratted on him", he's going to single you out with more aggressive actions. VERY uncomfortable but certainly doesn't need to be tolerated. Anyone got a way of handling this?

user support
user support

I think these 2 types of people can be found in many work places, not just IT. I worked in auto parts in the 70's which consist of a counter area, floor space, stock room and back office for the safe. My co-workers and I worked long hours and also spent off time doing leisure activities like playing pool, going bowling or having BBQ's. Whatever the annoying behaviors were they didn't effect us for very long. Since I have come into the IT field in 1999, I have been in several types of cubicles and the ones that are 6 X 6 right on top of each other with the walls acting as speaker amplifiers help focus the distractions directly at you. We all had one ear phone headsets but no music to deflect the noise. Some of us would go out to lunch occassionally or talk sports to diffuse some hot situations but no one went to any leisure activities outside of work time.

VEH
VEH

"He would have to be 500 years old to have his feigned level of experience." We have a guy in our office who has done every job on earth--just ask him. Pilot, graphics designer, programmer, test track driver, yada yada yada. Another co-worker has compiled a list of every job this guy says he has done. It's up to 40+, and the 50-ish dude has worked here for more than 10 years!

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

I can control my emotional response (feelings) to a given situation. The control is not always perfect. Nor is it always instantaneous. That is to say, someone may do or say something that might send a flash of irritation through me before the thinking, logical part of my brain analyzes the situation and comes up with something better than a purely subconscious, animal response. For instance, last week a coworker said something that caused an immediate, strong emotional flash to shoot through me. One of those unpleasant momentary urges ... to rip his head off and pi** down his windpipe. Then I did a mental double-take. Took a second look at him and saw the deep sunk eyes, signs of weariness, and remembered his wife of 35 years has what might be a terminal illness. I'm not particularly fond of this guy in any event. But he is human, a fellow human. This all happened within a second, maybe less. And I went from that flash of anger to what I hoped to be patience and understanding. This wasn't just controlling my response, it was a purposeful changing of my emotions ... feelings. Anger disappeared and was no longer felt by me. Okay, I'd been jabbed by a sharp needle, but was that anything compared to what he must be feeling and having to deal with? My conclusion was NO, of course not. What I'd felt was nothing, nothing at all. A minor annoyance of no importance whatsoever. So my only response was, "You must be tired, Bob. Your wife had a rough night?" It was his turn to do a double take, and to back up mentally. He sighed and nodded. Then took a deep breath and and mumbled something to the effect that what he'd just said was maybe a bit harsh, what he meant was ... And I listened as he re-stated his meaning. Put that first incident out of my mind completely as if it'd never happened. "We ARE human and emotions are part of being a human being." I agree with you. But being human also means that we are capable of more than being simple animals acting solely on the basis of instinct and emotion. As humans, we can not only control our RESPONSES to a given stimulus, one can learn to control the emotions felt in many cases. Not perfectly, of course, but in large measure. This is not the same as bottling up one's emotions. One can do that, but then one risks an outburst or emotional flood at some point which might not be good. I'm talking about trying to achieve an understanding of others, an attempt to see through their eyes. To walk in their shoes, as the old saying goes. It isn't necessary that you agree with them or their perspective, or their beliefs or habits or preferences. It is only necessary to come to grips with the idea that its okay for them to see things differently from yourself, to behave differently ... in their own way, and so forth. After all, what rule is there that says everyone must be the same, believe the same, and act the same as any one of us as individuals? Is there one of us so good, so perfect, and so great that our own personal preferences for how people should look, act, and so forth should be the only acceptable way? And if someone else does not conform to our personal expectations or preferences then there must necessarily be something wrong or evil about them? Just my opinion, not worth anything more than that. Which is to say, not worth the price of a lousy cup of coffee.

brianmilke
brianmilke

Without the knowlege of choice, we go through life blaming oter people for how we react to situations and how we feel about them. When we know that a person's certain action makes us choose to feel irritated, or worse, choose to act on that feeling, we have the ability to change how we feel and move on. Without choice, we are simply reacting to stimuli, which takes us out of being human, and makes us the animal. We have the choice to simply act on that stimuli, or to reason it out, and find a better response. Reasoning is what seperates us from the rest of the animal world. If you say that your feelings are caused by someone else, then that is not feeling, but reacting. Reacting, or the "Knee Jerk" response, is the reason why there is so much rage and violence in the workd today. The so called eye-for-an-eye view towards things is the basest animal response to any stimuli. We, as human beings, have the ability to rise above that. So often, though, we do not, and that's where I believe you are coming from. You say that you do not choose to feel a certain way. If you are not choosing, then who is? You are in control of only one thing in the world, and that is yourself. Every thing else that is lumped under "control" is an illusion.

pgit
pgit

I'm not sure you were replying directly to my post above... ?

LisaSweet
LisaSweet

You can only choose how you react, and really that's usually enough. :) However, there are some really tough nuts to crack out there, that won't stop until they get a reaction they can understand, and usually that would be a negative response of some kind. Which again is how you react and your choice, but sometimes what you really want to do is just not flinch. Which may be what the initial respondant on this thread really meant. Of course, I may just be full of "Fantastic!".

LisaSweet
LisaSweet

Watch out about that, if you like irony, it will like you right back. Then you will find that it seeks you out, just to see how far your appreciation goes. Kinda like Job.

mattie289404
mattie289404

Maybe you're only talking abour work. and maybe when they are around you they only talk about work..but behind your back they're probably saying 'What a jerk' he only talks about work, he must not have a life.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

I'm in no way attacking here and I say that for clarification because the written word has a way of coming across wrong in forum topics like this. Not to mention, I tend to paint extreme examples. ;-) I don't see how "drama" can be controlled in a work environment. We're a complete package. I can't come to work after finding out my parent has cancer and just force a gleeful smile on my face and go about my day acting like my personal life doesn't affect me. Likewise, when I go home at night and I've had a really bad day, my dogs ribs are going to be sore (that was a joke). I'm genuinely curious. How does management achieve such an environment? I picture a holocaust style prison camp where if anyone speaks up about there personal life, a whip is cracked or a Lugar pistol is pointed at the back of their head while they're told to NOT discuss that at work. Is there another way? Where is the line drawn between "drama", "gossip", or "sorry, I'm having a bad day"? In theory, I can see how it would only help the work environment, but how does management disect this "complete package" as I refer to employees?

KMacNeil
KMacNeil

What Osiyo53 was saying is that we all choose our own reactions to everything around us, which I agree with 100 percent. As long as what the other person is doing will not harm another person and is legal, then let them go ahead and do it. It doesn't have to bother you unless you let it. We all need to learn to respect the other person's right to act the way they think it right, even if we don't agree with it. Think of it another way...maybe you annoy them, too; maybe they want you to change to their way of behaving.

mattie289404
mattie289404

You mean this guy has enough juice with management they can put a gag order on you at work? Sounds like disrepect, and reflects on what management thinks about your place on the totem pole..confront him, confront management and be ready to look for another job..what's next? cut off pay for time in bathroom?

cdaly
cdaly

I work with all men - not terribly uncommon in IT unfortunately - and have co-workers who insist on hanging around in the hallways (near my cube) talking about golf and football and other boring "guy stuff". I can ignore it up to a point but after 5 minutes or so I just shout out "Girls, enough chatter - go back to work". As you can well imagine, they just LOVE being called "girls" but it works. They shut up and go away. Funny - you would think they'd learn to go blather someplace else (where I couldn't hear 'em) but they never do.....

jck
jck

I don't get bullied. I'm big, so to bully me you either need to look like Hulk Hogan or be able to fire me. Hence, why I put up with crap from my boss. But, the person who does this is VERY female, VERY loud, and VERY selfish in her habits. She is a favorite of the boss, and I do plan on telling my boss when I leave here eventually that she is one of the reasons because of her inconsiderate attitude in the workplace. But, that's still at least a year away. So for now, I'll just avoid her and if she needs help I will avoid that too. :)

brian
brian

I am "near 50" and I literally have had more jobs than I'd care to admit or put on my resume. I have seen other people's resumes where they "job hopped" every six months - whether on their own or given the boot, who knows? If he's been there a Decade, then it's unlikely he's one of those types. His manager *could* pull his resume from HR, and verify the jobs he has had - if it is appropriate. No sense wasting someone with oh so much TALENT! He reminds me of a character in a British TV series, Red Dwarf, Lister (the lowest ranking crewman on the ship) when he talks about having gone to college: LISTER: I've read books. RIMMER: Uh, Lister, we're not talking about books where the main character is a dog called "Ben." LISTER: I went to Art College! RIMMER: You? LISTER: Yeah! RIMMER: How did you get into Art College? LISTER: The normal way you get into Art College. The same old, usual, normal, boring you get in. Failed me exams and applied. The snatched me up. RIMMER: Ah, but you didn't get a degree, did you? LISTER: No, I dropped out. I wasn't in long. RIMMER: How long? LISTER: 97 minutes. I thought it was going to be a good skive and all that, you know? But I took one look at the time table and just checked out, man. I mean, it was ridiculous. They had, they had lectures at, like, first thing, in the afternoon. We're talking half-past twelve everyday. Who's together by then? You can still taste the toothpaste. If your person has the same "failure rate" as Lister, there are THOUSANDS of jobs he could have done (and failed at miserably) in no time at all! It's also fun to toy with them - Ask if he knows anyone still working there or keeps in contact with. Start writing those down and see how often certain names shows up. He's bound to clam up once he realizes you keep asking the same questions. Or, Tell him you've heard of an opportunity which needs a bunch of these "skills" of his, and ask him for a resume...

rebeccaaward
rebeccaaward

Perhaps he got fired a lot before he got the job with your company? ;)

KSoniat
KSoniat

We actually coined the phrase: The least, the most, the best, the worst or knows someone who is... Once you identify them they can be fun to toy with. If it is good, they will do better if it is bad, they will do worse or if you get fairly obscure they have a "cousin" who outdid you. We actually had a discussion of camel jockey's in Egypt (we all knew we were exaggerating) but the person kept escalating regardless of how absurd it got! We also gave new meaning to word "Fantastic". If we told them that was bull** they would get offended. Instead we would say "That's fantastic". They were not offended, but we felt much better! :)

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

On a similar note, I used to be more highly critical of others than I am now. Then with age and experience, I discovered that I am not nearly so perfect and smart as I used to think I was. Ahhhh, youth ... back then I thought I was so smart. Now, I've come to the understanding that it was really innocence and ignorance ... instead of superior intellect and knowledge. As I've grown older I've learned that the more I know ... the more I understand just how much more there is that I do not know. Which is not a bad thing, actually. A better understanding of my own fallibility, imperfections, and ignorance has lead to my making fewer mistakes these days and a greater tolerance for the failings and imperfections of my fellow humans. Nowadays I often laugh at something stupid others do or say ... not because I'm making fun of them ... but because I'm thinking, "Oh Geez, I've done that!" And not seldom I'll walk up to the person concerned and tell em so, "Ahhh, don't worry about it. When I did that, I did it even worse than you just did, with worse consequences."

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

Yes, I agree. It's very similar to the old adage, "when you point a finger, 3 point back at you". I use it as a gage for my own life. If I find myself laughing at irony (or disliking something about someone), I've conditioned myself to ask myself, "Do I do that?" It's frightening how often I can find that same trait/habit in myself. It took parenting to really understand and appreciate this wisdom. :-)

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

I also tend to not discuss much about my personal life at work. Some, but not much. The folks I work with know I like to go fishing, am an avid vegetable gardener, and this or that little tidbit here and there. But very FEW know anything more than that, except what I'm like at work. As when I'm at work, I concentrate on work. For me, its not a social club. "but behind your back they're probably saying 'What a jerk' he only talks about work, he must not have a life." They might say or think such a thing. But then, why would I care, if it were me they were talking about? They're perfectly entitled to think anything they wish. And such types probably will. It tends to be their nature. However, among the more mature and experienced people I've known, such types are more likely to just assume that person who speaks only about work matters at work is the type to keep work and his/her personal life separate. One never knows. And making assumptions quite often leads one astray. For instance, one fellow I used to work with. He never talked about personal matters. Was he a jerk? I don't think so. To him work was work. When at work he concentrated on that. And did his job to the best of his abilities. And he was quite good at his job. One of the best I've seen. His personal life? I happen to know that almost ALL of his free time when not at work was spent with a wife and a son who were both disabled. Taking care of them took up most all of his free time and emotional energy. What little time and emotional energy he had left, was mostly taken up by coping with the cancer he himself had. It was not a subject he was given to speaking about at work. He was not looking for sympathy or pity, did not WANT any such thing. And was not one given to burdening others with his problems. He just did what he felt he needed to do, and took things one day at a time, doing his best. I worked with him for a couple years before I found out about his home problems. Only found out about them at all because he had an issue at home. His furnace/air conditioner failed. He knew I used to be a repairman for such, asked if I could recommend somebody and what it might cost him. He made a good salary but much of it was eaten up in special medical needs for his wife and son. So money was tight. That much he told me while asking for the recommendation. So I told him that maybe I should look at it first so I could tell him a more accurate answer. As it turned out, I went over to his home, looked over the equipment. It was repairable. I went back home and got my stuff. I keep a fully stocked set of tools and such for air conditioning and furnace repairs. After all, one never knows. I might need to go back to doing that sort of work some day. Anyway, I did the repairs for him at the cost of materials. I was the least I felt I could do for him. He tried to pay me and I refused. I felt he didn't owe me a thing. While there I saw him smiling, puttering about the house doing the cleaning and cooking. Tending the flower garden he maintained specifically for his wife. Taking tender care of her and his son. Etc. To me, just to see that, was more than payment enough. Okay, maybe someone, or some busy-body group with nothing better to do at work, might have thought he was a jerk. So what? Did what they THINK matter?

debposton
debposton

To be honest, I think the knowledge that I do not or should not discuss my personal life makes me as well as other more productive. Now, most people I work with are type A personalities...so we do not feel comfortable talking about our personal lives. If someone was a "social" butterfly, my office environment would not work for them. I buy cakes for birthdays and often will bring in treats for meetings and such but we are not really outgoing. Oh, don't get me wrong, we are nice and well, we work extremely well together. I know the "work is work" atmosphere helps us to focus which is what we enjoy. You stated 20/30 mintues ...that would not work for us. We are a busy IT shop...there is no way we can afford to allow this to happen. At the beginning of meeting, while we are waiting for everyone...we are type A so we usually start on time (LOL), we will discuss the weather, sports, or food...but very limited. I have worked in several large companies. This environment works great..I have experienced others and I like this one. I feel so much more productive at the end of a day and well, I like that! Good luck on your new job!

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

I have to admit; since this is my first office job I think I'm just mildly naive about all this. I've just assumed that in an office, you sort of need to get to know each other on a personal level in order to work in such close proximity. All the other jobs I've ever had (before my technical education) have been more-or-less 8 hours per day of solo work. I think I'm being enlightened right now. In our office, most wear their emotions on their sleeve and are quick to talk about it when they come in the door in the morning. In fact, I think 1 or 2 of them look forward to it. Also, while it doesn't happen every day, it's not uncommon to see 3 or 4 of our 11 employees huddled around a desk for 20 or 30 minutes tackling somoeone's personal issue. If they did it every day, the boss would say something because he's not a pushover but he is willing to let those personal relationships exist in the office. I'm curious how much more productive our office would be if we had strict rules about that behavior. I also wonder how employee morale is affected, comparing your environment with mine. Thanks for sharing.

debposton
debposton

No, it is not a prison camp. We are very busy all the time. I guess there is an unwritten rule that suggest we focus on work. We do talk personal stuff but at breaks, lunch etc. We know when someone is a having a bad day or does not feel well and we ask...but we do not dwell on it or push them to answer. I have been in both environments and to be honest, we are more productive and efficient in this environment. It works and it is good. The staff is aware that the manager's door is open and if personal information is shared, it stays in the that office.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

I guess I interpreted "aggressive actions" as a big bully-type intimidating the smaller minding-my-own-business-type. Not a lot different in your situation though, because as you pointed out, she's a "boss favorite" and you can't get too confrontational with the boss (or favorites). Hopefully when you inform your boss about this, it will be received and changes will be made for those left behind after you leave. Good luck with your current job and with your next opportunity.

hampson
hampson

You did not give new meaning to the word, you did something even better: used its proper meaning in an appropriate manner. From Dictionary.com (second only to Wikipedia in reliability), the definitions of fantastic: 1. conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque 2. fanciful or capricious, as persons or their ideas or actions 3. imaginary or groundless in not being based on reality; foolish or irrational 4. extravagantly fanciful; marvelous. 5. incredibly great or extreme; exorbitant 6. highly unrealistic or impractical; outlandish 7. Informal. extraordinarily good If they are not offended when told that something they said was fantastic, they just don't know what the word means.

KSoniat
KSoniat

Good point. My first occassion - and where the phrase was coined was actually my roommate in college. One cannot "hide" that for 1.5 years. In my office co-worker experience it is usually someone who is in a medium position but yearns for more and blusters to try to increase importance. True intellect and wit would be required to reverse it, features lacking in the above mentioned folks.

melias
melias

Shortest redundant statement in the english language I'm right. heh

furdog22
furdog22

what if the guy that is "The least, the most, the best, the worst or knows someone who is.." is just screwing with all of you?? It seems that every company has that guy...an old I.T. Director of mine was that guy....

LisaSweet
LisaSweet

I see you belong to the euphemism of the month club. Meeeee too. I call some of our little rocket scientists "Individualistic Free Thinkers", they all think it's a complement.

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