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Issues with a coworker


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I started this retail job about a month ago, and I really love it. I enjoy the job, the atmosphere, the customers, the business, it's great. I only have one issue, and it's with another coworker. She's older (in 70s), has been in my department the longest, really knows the ins and outs of the department... and she's mean. I thought that maybe it is just her personality, but it's more than that sometimes. Her tone of voice is always harsh sounding, and I feel as though she's always talking down to me. Other coworkers have spoken to me about her as well, and feel the same way. The thing is, I know she doesn't mean it to sound or be mean most of the time. That's just her personality, and almost always she's just being helpful, just in her own way.


But, every once in awhile she says or does something that really bothers me. Some examples: One time I needed the key to open a glass case. I took the key, and then she stepped in front of me, and asked where I was going, which I replied, 'to open a case for a customer.' She then took the keys right out of my hand, opened another case for someone else, then held the keys out in my direction, not saying a word of thanks or anything.

Another time I was in the middle of helping a customer, having a full on conversation. Then this coworker of mine came up to us, interrupted the convo, and started scolding me about how I had handled a particular return incorrectly. She could have easily waited for a more appropriate time to ream me out in a more private manner instead of right in front of a customer! Just minutes after that I went to another register where it was just her and me and no one else was around, which I felt would have been the perfect time for her to talk to me - but I didn't say anything to her because a manager was with us.


Then today we were working together. She noticed some items out on the counter, and said, there's some stuff out. I looked in the direction she was looking, and then she said, well it's not mine so you need to put away your stuff (i.e. you need to take care of the items you were showing customers). I decided to stick up for myself and said, I didn't take those things out(I really hadn't!), and she lost it. She started saying how it's not her stuff so there's no way it couldn't be mine, etc... then walked away still talking. I felt like she was accusing me of lying to her. Turns out the items that were out were returned items that another cowoker brought over when neither of us were at that counter. At first I was mad, but I realized, it's just not worth it to argue over, so I put them away.


I always feel tense around this person because she's always watching everything I'm doing and is critical about things, and I hate working with her. I've spoken with my manager about her, it helped me feel better because my manager was understanding, but I still am tense around her, and when I do get upset, it's hard to let it go when you're in the moment, you know? I wish I knew how to let go of these little things faster. I guess I'm really just blowing off steam right now but any comments or suggestions about how to deal with day-to-day interaction with her is welcomed.

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Yeah, I've worked with some seniors that rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes they feel like they have to be bossy to still be useful, and sometimes they get "parental". Sometimes they are just stressed because of being on a fixed income and having to work to get by, not wanting to lose their jobs to someone younger.


Best thing you can do is to just be polite and take some deep breaths. Maybe as she gets to know you better, she'll relax a bit more. I've seen that happen before.... don't exclude her from staff conversations or chat, or it will get worse. When she feels included, I think she'll relax a little bit.


On the other hand, she could just be mean

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I had the exact same problem when I was working in a pharmacy. This older lady had worked there way longer than me, and thought she knew everything about everything! She was very rude and grouchy, but I usually just stayed clear of her. If she tried to say something to me, or was rude, I would stand there and let her say what she had to say, and then I'd say "ok" and walk away. I agree with you, that they don't understand how rude they are being, or how mean they are sounding. But don't be afraid to stick up for yourself! If she yells at you in front of a customer again, I would calmly say "i'm with a customer right now, but I would be more than glad to talk to you in a minute" you don't have to be mean back to her, but you can stand your ground and let her know that you aren't going to be her doormat.

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She's not terribly smart, not nice, and she's possibly a control freak. She assumes seniority in a position which could be downsized any second. (Like after the "I shall return" unwanted merchandise week.)


If you don't like her actions, simply ignore her. If she cares, she'll edit her behavior. At here age that isn't likely as she would have handled that problem already.


Counter your uncomfortable moments at work (around her) with better times around those you get along with and empathize with as they feel the same way.


This is office politics at it's simplest level. It's a popularity contest there and you win.

So take in stride and be cool. Don't let one person out of ten there blow your scene.

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COtuner- "Best thing you can do is to just be polite and take some deep breaths. Maybe as she gets to know you better, she'll relax a bit more. I've seen that happen before.... don't exclude her from staff conversations or chat, or it will get worse. When she feels included, I think she'll relax a little bit."


Then again, this might be the first strategy. It wasn't there when I posted. I like it.

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