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Can't handle work people


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Hi there

I have real trouble dealing with conflicts at work and always over think comments by colleagues. There is one i dislike and who has just started with us and felt she was patronising of me today. To cut a long story short, my boss asked me about something and i wasn't sure even though this used to be my area of expertise and she pipes up that my other colleague would know as she is transfering over there. 

I also have a colleague joining our team who i have had trouble with and i am dreading it already. I was enjoying this workplace until these two have joined. 

I lack confidence in my work just now and in myself. I think i habe inposter syndrome. Plus, I think i may take comments too personally and think that others are always judging me so harshly especially of i don't know something etc...

I am seeing a therapist right now. I have been bullied at work in the past and feel like i lack assertiveness skills and confidence. People have conplimented me at my work but i always feel like they are just saying that to be nice. 

I always care what others think of me and worry i don't look competent. Spoke to my friend about what happened today and she advises that it was unlikely a dig at me and that even if it was then why should i care. I guess i just hate working with those i don't like and have difficulty with. But surely it is a fact of life that we all have to deal with toxic people in the workplace? I just don't know how and i let tjem grind me down. I fixate on comments and let it eat away at me.

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Two things.  Check out the website -askamanager.com - it's a generally good site for what you're referring to  I think short of being abused or harassed at work here's my second thing which helps me a lot -what my mom said to me many decades ago -I started working about 35 years ago give or take.  She said "your thank you is your paycheck" -meaning your expectation at work should be simply to receive the paycheck you're supposed to and if you do -that is the reward, the approval for your work.  Because of work I've made lifelong friends, because of work I met my husband and became a mom, because of work I've had incredibly awesome professional accomplishments and worked with some incredibly smart and talented people -I've mentored and been mentored.  But I didn't feel entitled to any of that.  It was simply an added reward.  

Go to work.  Do your work.  Focus on your work.  Be on time, be reliable, be professional, be accountable.  You do have to have a thick skin at most jobs.  If you are harassed or abused by all means take the appropriate steps or decide not to -your choice but yes that is different.  What you described doesn't sound the least bit  toxic.  You are making assumptions and you are choosing to react in a highly sensitive way and that at some point could affect your career because people will have a hard time working with you if you actually show that level of sensitivity.  And won't want to refer you for internal promotions or external opportunities.

You can control your reactions and I hope you choose to build that thicker skin.  Good luck and I'm sorry you're upset and stressed.

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I have all sorts of nasty experiences with colleagues as do my parents, husband, sons and everyone.  It comes with the territory.  Get used to it! 

There will ALWAYS be people whom you don't admire yet you're lumped together whether it's at the workplace, other times in your personal life such as partners' (or spouse's) relatives, friends, in-laws, etc.  This is the world we live in and often times you have no control over various personalities or characters whom you don't approve of.  Some people are unacceptable, intolerable, very rude, obnoxious, unkind, indifferent, apathetic and inconsiderate.  This is how society is. 

Granted, in extreme cases, contact your HR (human resources) department if your organization has one.  Examples, are all forms of harassment. 

If it's a "he said, she said" and you are thin skinned, then you can't do anything about it.  Just remain very professional, "keep your nose to the grindstone" so to speak, remain well mannered, polite, gracious, kind yet it's perfectly fine to be a bit aloof and frosty for your safety's sake.   Enforce healthy boundaries for yourself.

I like what Batya33 said about her mother saying the paycheck is a thank you.  My mother said to the effect of "you earn every penny of your paycheck the hard way" meaning you have to endure and tolerate a lot of _ _ _ _  in order to earn your weekly paycheck and survive in this world.  Putting up with a lot of _ _ _ _  is what it takes to put food on the table.  It's not all chirping birds and butterflies at work.  I too had to put up with a lot of _ _ _ _ at work, during my numerous work travels and I've heard and seen it all.  I've had to put up with a lot of _ _ _ _  while traveling 3,000 miles to and from home 18 times within 2 years.  Each business trip was 2 weeks long.  It is a dog eat dog world.  Grow accustomed to it.  Be strong and most of all, hang tough. 

Don't allow others to ruffle your feathers or get a rise out of you.  Be better than that.  Don't get so emotional because emotion clouds your judgment and causes you to feel very sensitive.  Don't take other people's comments personally.  Know that so many people are crabby, very irritable due to their personal lives, insecurities, perhaps sadness of all sorts and stories you don't know about.  You are clueless about them.   Not that it's an excuse but generally unhappy people are frustrated, insecure, unkind and unconscionable.  They will take it out on you.  Learn to brush their snide comments aside and carry on.  In other words, become very resilient and bounce back.  Don't pay them any mind.  Go about your business.  Don't give them the attention they do not deserve. 

Change the way you think.  Do your job to the best of your ability, earn your money, go home and pay your bills.  Psyche yourself into thinking more robotic-like because it's mental strength.  Btw, it's a figure of speech before anyone takes it out of context.  I've found that when you visualize your own strength, it helps change your mindset tremendously and other people won't get to you anymore.  You learn to be kind to yourself and give yourself self-respect.  Everything else falls into place after that.  It's a process and good thing your therapist is helping you along the way. 

I was once you long ago.  I was so naive (with all due respect), sensitive and took everyone's inconsiderate,  and unkind comments personally as if the world was against me.   I've since changed.  I never allow anyone to get the best of me anymore.  Don't feel so defeated.  You're better than that.  Rise above it.  Be strong and TOUGH.  This is how you survive. 

 

Edited by Cherylyn
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6,000 miles round trip for each 2 week business trip (18 times within 2 years) included interacting with unpleasant colleagues.  Some behaved well whereas others not so much.  😡 

In your lifetime, you will encounter a lot of people whom you're not fond of or despise.  They may try to smash your spirits but don't allow them to.  You can be just as tough if not stronger than they are.  If I can do it, so can you.  It's not that hard nor difficult.  Practice makes perfect. 😋😊 Outsmart them at their own game.

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Don't automatically assume a new coworkers is going to be a problem.

Honestly, though, if you have a problem with a coworker, that's one thing. If you have trouble with ALL of your coworkers...maybe its you?  Some people on purpose go hunting for conflict. 

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Don't have any drama in your life.  Become a dismissive person internally and don't engage if it's not worth your time, energy and unnecessary stress. 

In my current midst, there are a few people whom I'm not fond of yet I need to cross occasional paths with them.  I have a rather "blah" attitude.  I don't give them the time of day.  I'm too consumed with my daily life and after all is said and done, I'm too exhausted to care.

Learn to distance yourself from people who don't ring true, who are perceived as insincere, fake, phony or pretentious.  As soon as I sense that the other person is indifferent, apathetic, ignorant or all three, my attitude suddenly shifts from interest to frosty and aloof within a second. 

I'm well mannered and very peaceful.  However, I don't give anymore of myself than that.  Don't give life and oxygen to people who don't particularly care about you.  It works both ways.  Let those feelings or non-feelings be mutual and it's fair and even.  No harm, no foul.

Develop this same mindset and you will no longer allow others to get under your skin anymore.  You ought to try a new tactic as it has worked wonders for me.  Change the way you think and follow through.  It's very empowering.

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The day you stop caring about what most others think about you is the day you'll be more happy and at peace.

For me, I don't care too much what my coworkers think of me. I know a lot of them think I'm quirky/weird but I don't really care. As long as they can work with me and I can work with them (I'm in a supervisory position over most of my coworkers), then I'm fine with it. I care very much what my boss thinks (considering, you know, she's in charge) but that's about it.

Who gives a rat's a__ over what Jenny in Accounting thinks of you? Or Doug the Manager? Or whatever? You don't have to see or interact meaningfully with these people outside of work. Keep it about work-only. They don't have to know much about you personally and vice versa, so their opinions really do mean very little.

Get your work done, go home, and enjoy your money.  Coworkers are coworkers. Leave them at work and don't try to make them into your friends or care about their thoughts like you would your friends. 

Edited by Fudgie
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It helped me tremendously when I grasped that work is NOT a therapeutic environment.

That's not cynical or 'bad,' it just reminds me to avoid internalizing or personalizing ANY behaviors of others on the job. Their function is not to serve me or to meet my emotional needs, I'm just there to perform a service. I can do that in a cheerful way that lets everything roll off of me while I enjoy my time doing that, OR, I can turn this paid time into a drama that matters all too much.

When you can form interests and passions and relationships outside of your job, you can minimize the emotional importance of anyone or anything on the job.

Think 'resilience' and invest less in what others think of you. They MUST matter to the degree that you choose to make them matter. So? Choose differently.

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:44 AM, CrazyWife said:

I have real trouble dealing with conflicts at work and always over think comments by colleagues.

I lack confidence in my work just now and in myself. I think i have imposter syndrome. Plus, I think i may take comments too personally and think that others are always judging me so harshly especially if i don't know something etc...

I always care what others think of me and worry i don't look competent.  I fixate on comments and let it eat away at me.

^ I think the biggest problem is all of the above.  Perhaps it's not so much all of your colleagues, but more a case of your own personal issues as you state above.  That's where the problem lies (imo).

You say you're seeing a therapist.  Have you discussed your low self-esteem and lack of confidence with her/him?  This is definitely something you need to address with a therapist.

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Learn to detach yourself from your coworkers.  You are there to work, remain professional, well mannered, respectful and that's it.  Divide and differentiate your life from work to your life outside work. 

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On 4/20/2021 at 8:44 AM, CrazyWife said:

I have real trouble dealing with conflicts at work and always over think comments by colleagues. There is one i dislike and who has just started with us and felt she was patronising of me today. To cut a long story short, my boss asked me about something and i wasn't sure even though this used to be my area of expertise and she pipes up that my other colleague would know as she is transfering over there. 

...

I always care what others think of me and worry i don't look competent. Spoke to my friend about what happened today and she advises that it was unlikely a dig at me and that even if it was then why should i care. I guess i just hate working with those i don't like and have difficulty with. But surely it is a fact of life that we all have to deal with toxic people in the workplace? I just don't know how and i let tjem grind me down. I fixate on comments and let it eat away at me.

You weren't sure though. If you're not sure, someone else might be and that is not such a bad thing. Working with others means learning to build together as a team and incorporating ideas that are valid, sometimes brainstorming ideas that aren't or are not as up to date.

The key idea is working as a team. I would try as much as possible to avoid the myself as an island mentality because this is what sets you apart, isolates you and also creates a level of dysfunction in the team. It should be a team environment as much as possible. Has your therapist mentioned anything about this(ie, foregoing the individuality or self-isolation, focusing more on teamwork)? 

The other thing I wanted to note was the use of your words "hate working with those I don't like" or "toxic people". As soon as we attribute these negative associations to people, those negative associations gain a foothold and gain negative space in our mind. When I feel myself thinking along these lines or momentarily annoyed at certain situations, I have to stop myself and recognize how I'm framing the situation or how I'm attributing negative characteristics to otherwise neutral or not-so-sinister individuals.

You can learn to meter out or temper the way you affix meaning to people who may not deserve that kind of intense meaning in your mind. These are active ways to reframe and add perspective or more depth to understanding the whole situation. It works better from different vantage points, not just yours alone.

Those other workers are there to earn a paycheque, as are you. Sometimes others might have something valuable to add also that you might not have that day. Part and parcel of working together.

Edited by Rose Mosse
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  • 3 weeks later...

I think I'll echo a lot of what others have already said, insofar, focus on your work. Focus on what you do, on what you can do to feel more competent in your work. For instance, learning something new (if that applies), relearning what you feel you forgot. And not be afraid to not know, but take the steps to find out 
Not so much to feel adequate in your colleagues' eyes, but your own. You can find areas where you can be of service to others based on your expertise

As far as your relationship with them, my 2 cents, is to go the route of humility in a sense. If anyone makes any negative remark, take the high road on it. Personally, I've found it to work.
This next one may not seem productive or even valuable on the surface, but I've found that if I try (and I mean, try) to go out of my way to do little kind, helpful things to those i don't like, the relationship changes over time. We might not end up liking each other but we can tolerate each other better and actually work more productively together.
A little example of that: where I work, we work pretty independently, we need to get our own stuff set up and organized. There is one coworker that rubs me the wrong way more often than not, but I'd try to make sure he has his stuff waiting for him or his space is tidied up, if I got to work before him. It has worked because, in response to that, he has helped me in return in setting up, or getting food, or discussing work and giving me ideas. It's not always like this, but there have been upsides. Just thought I would throw that idea out there.

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It's ok to not know everything, and to say you don't know. Don't judge yourself too harshly about that. Honestly, I'd rather work with others who will be honest when they do not know rather than the type who will say they know all the time yet pull it out of their butts just to try and save face. You can always follow up an "I'm not sure" with a "I will find out" if it's appropriate and within your scope. 

For you, I think working on your confidence is the key here. Seeing success and progress in your work and interactions is going to build up that confidence after being torn down in your previous workplace. There are ways to set yourself up to succeed, and it's good to celebrate the little steps as you go for yourself. Don't depend on the outside validation, feed yourself and you'll see a big difference in how you weigh what others think. You can shake out the info that helps you to do better, while leaving the personal kind of opinions and dislikes as chaff. It's the shift from your personal self being up on the line at work, to it just being about your role in a work related capacity. The funny thing is it's easier to learn, adjust, adapt at work when you aren't bringing your self worth to the table (that isn't up for debate or scrutiny!). 

 

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