A reader writes:
One of my coworkers is constantly telling me what to do, and it’s driving me crazy! She does not give suggestions; she gives orders. She also disagrees with me on everything and insists on always having her way, both for things directly related to my work and things that are indirectly or not at all related to my work. Even the most insignificant thing will set her off. For example, we recently cleaned out some old filing cabinets, and my coworker demanded to know why I wanted to save a particular file since she wanted to throw out as much as possible. I explained why it was necessary to save these papers, and she disagreed and told me that I had to throw them out. While I understand why she wanted to clear out as many papers as possible (I did too!), her response to saving 10 pieces of paper was extreme, especially since we threw out thousands of other papers. If it were me, I wouldn’t have given a second thought if someone wanted to save ten pieces of paper, much less made a big deal about it.
In addition to disagreeing with and giving orders to people, she constantly inserts herself into conversations she overhears that she is not part of in order to express her disagreement and tell people what they should do. For example, a client recently came to my office for an appointment with me, and said he would have to reschedule because he forgot to bring money for the parking meter. I asked him if he would like to move his car into our validated parking garage (which he did not know we had), and my coworker, who happened to be standing nearby but was not part of our conversation, came over and told my client that he should reschedule his appointment with me instead of moving his car!
My frustration is growing daily, and I imagine that it is for my other coworkers as well (she acts like this to everyone, including our boss). The funny thing about this is that while I am not her manager, I hold a higher position in the company than she does, and have been at this company twice as long as she has. You would think that she would realize that I am not a clueless idiot.
Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with this? My department is small, and we all work closely together for very long hours, so it’s important that we have good working relationships with one another.
You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).