Case Studies: My New Co-Worker Won’t Leave me Alone

By Casey Benson January 15, 2013 04:00 AM
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Case Studies: My New Co-Worker Won’t Leave me AloneCase Studies: My New Co-Worker Won’t Leave me Alone #1

Dear Case,
I just started a new job and am getting settled in my new office. There’s a woman on my team who seems very insecure about my arrival. She is constantly asking what I’m working on, who I’m working with and what meetings I’m attending. It’s starting to drive me crazy. I have no interest in stepping on her toes or making her feel like I’m a threat, even though truth be told, I could do both of our jobs in my sleep. How should I handle this situation? I don’t want to go to the boss for fear of starting trouble. I don’t want to make enemies with her by giving her a little “back off” dig. And I definitely don’t want to do less of a job to placate her insecurities. Any ideas?
-Working Too Hard for the Money

Dear Working,
Sometimes change is scary for people, sending them into a panic of what if’s, what does this mean and even a bad attitude towards new blood. Try to be sensitive to the situation, since you don’t really know what happened before your arrival. Perhaps layoffs were looming, or her job duties were stripped and she thinks your presence is another sign of the pending pink slip. It can be intimidating when a newer and shinier model arrives on the scene, potentially challenging your value. Your instincts to refrain from involving the boss or telling her to back down are good ones. Instead, try a different approach. Make friends and engage her to lend her status/knowledge/experience. It shows that you think she is valuable, you have nothing to hide, and most of all, there is plenty to learn – from her. Kindness and respect is sure to soothe her ruffled feathers quicker than snubbing would. Taking a cue from Who Moved My Cheese? the favored corporate bible on change in the workplace, you may be able to shepherd your coworker’s acceptance and flexibility during the transition, finding a new room of cheese for the two of you.

Dear Case Studies,
My friend is always taking pictures. Whether we are on vacation or in the grocery store aisles, her camera is pulled out of her bag to snap the moment. While I understand keeping things for prosperity, I feel like I must always be camera-ready, and like it. I have asked her cut the paparazzo act so she can actually BE in the moment, rather than behind the camera, but she laughs me off. Not only is it annoying, I feel like it is rude. Am I wrong?
-Camera Shy

Dear Camera,
Shutterbugs have it in their blood, snapping and posing incessantly. Maybe they are devoted scrapbookers or they have a bad memory and need confirmation of their good times. Whatever the reason, if you have asked your pal to cut it out and she laughs you off, she obviously doesn’t take you seriously. Bring it up when it is just the two of you and explain something like, “I know you love your pictures, but it makes me uncomfortable to always be the subject. I certainly love your company, but can we reserve the photography sessions for special occasions?” Hopefully, after the heart to heart, your friend will relent, at least in your presence. If not, you may have to concede and limit your visits with this photojournalist to the times when you feel you are camera ready.

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