my bombastic coworker is pushing me over the edge

A reader writes:

I have recently started a new job in an industry that when people get into, they typically stay there for life. I’m not fresh out of high school, but I’m on the early side of twenties and have no experience in the industry. I’ve been very self-conscious about that fact while I attend my two-week training course as there’s people from all different branches from head office IT to frontline staff to personal sellers. (This is the basic training everyone in the company does.)

After day two of the training course, I’m about ready to kill one of the students, Cersei.

We have very different jobs (hers is more senior), and our jobs aren’t even the same department and we won’t work at the same location later, but this is a company where you meet and work with people from other locations a lot. Chances are I will see her again, and if not, I still have ten more days I have to deal with her.

The problem is she’s very self-centered and an arrogant know-it-all. During the introduction exercises, we had a one on one moment to meet. She gave no time for me to introduce myself, but instead bragged about herself and her experience. Over two days she’s loudly bragged to everyone no less than seven times that she’s worked 30 years in the industry, and after learning my age she’s started to announce to people that she’s “been in the industry longer than some people in this room have been alive.” She also has gone on a rant about how she’s an extremely valuable asset (again mentioning how many years she’s been in the industry) but all these “young kids” (aka, people my age) are coming in and doing the jobs people should ask of her and that’s why she left her last job.

Even more annoying is the fact that in part of the training, there was a moment where I opened up and revealed that I had been suffering financial problems lately due to some stupid choices (we work in finances). Ever since, Cersei has been going on long and loud lectures (not directly to me but in discussions as a group that I am part of) about people who don’t budget and are financially irresponsible.

She also likes bragging about all these what-ifs of what she would do in this situation or that. When we had a head of (her) department tell us a story of how he dealt with a certain client, at lunch she went on about everything he did wrong in the story and how she would have done things differently. She detailed this very negative plan of how she would knock some sense into this financially irresponsible person, only to have a woman who has worked with this company for years (she’s doing the training as a refresher course but is the kind of manager both Cersei and I would report to) explain all the things wrong with that plan.

Finally, she’s a time waster who just won’t shut up. We have run out of time on certain presentations because the presenter will ask a question which Cersei answers and then rambles on about how awesome she is and her experience. She cuts off the presenters when they try to move on from the question, and worse of all is she’ll ramble about a detail that is important only to her that they can’t do a thing about now. She delayed our tour of head office for five minutes because she would not stop telling the head of IT about not being able to reposition her desk (in a building on the other side of the city) like it’s supposed to do.

I know that we all have to deal with difficult people and I won’t really see her again after this, but please help me. Our trainer isn’t doing anything, and I’m ready to strangle Cersei.

Really, all you can do is sit back and enjoy the show.

To be clear, it makes sense that you’re infuriated because her behavior is genuinely infuriating. And if you had some ability to do something here — if you were the facilitator or her boss or otherwise had some authority over her — I’d have lots of advice for you about reining her in. But you’re not, so the best thing you can do is to shift your mindset and pretend you’re at the circus or a play about dysfunctional offices or watching a training video about the un-self-aware, or that you’re an anthropologist studying an envoy from another planet.

Seen in another light, Cersei could be great entertainment for the rest of the time you’re stuck with her. I know that’s not an especially kind viewpoint, but it’s one that will make your next two weeks more bearable. (And really, she forfeited any right to generosity in your private thinking about her when she decided to insult you. You should be kind externally, of course, but your private thoughts are your own.)

Also, know that everyone else is seeing what you’re seeing and probably finds her just as annoying as you do. This is not the kind of behavior that only you are picking up on! It’s very likely that everyone else is internally rolling their eyes and thinking “OMG NO” when she starts monologuing or moralizing yet again.

In other words, Cersei is destroying her own reputation here, and she hasn’t even gotten out of training yet. I don’t know why your trainer is choosing to hand her so much rope to hang herself with, but some people are bad at taking control of their room when a participant runs roughshod over everyone else like this.

So just get through the remaining days with whatever mental reframing works for you, and then enjoy your freedom. Yes, you’ll run into her again, and she probably won’t have improved (unless she has a boss who addresses this forthrightly), but you won’t be stuck in a classroom with her all day, every day, and she won’t be your problem to solve.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 416 comments… read them below }

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      For real though. I had to train one of these people, and we invested 14 weeks in her (we’ll call her Joanne) before we ended her contract early because it was clear there was no training her. I frequently (to friends, not coworkers until it became clear this was unsustainable) described her interruptions to my explanations of her job tasks as “me trying to lead the horse to water but not only will she not go, she’s kicking me in the face the whole time I’m trying.” Joanne was loud, told stories on top of people trying to teach her things, would not ask questions when she didn’t know something and would instead guess badly at it on deliverables that took longer to correct than it would to do it yourself from scratch. She alienated coworkers and her superiors, who have since changed how they conduct interviews to avoid this having happened again. She also had a special “confused” face that made the recipient feel as if she thought they were a f*#@ing idiot.

      Tl;dr – Just sit back and watch, as Alison recommended. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with her much in your job after, and if you do keep your emails short, don’t give her any more personal information. Every office has at least one of these, it’s best to just laugh privately at them and not give them much other thought.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        She also had a special “confused” face that made the recipient feel as if she thought they were a f*#@ing idiot.

        The “bless your heart look.”
        I have a coworker who has mastered that. Not mastered the tasks I’m instructing her on, but somehow, I’m the effing idiot. (she’s started here a about 15 months after me…20 years ago)

        1. Imaginary Number*

          I can definitely relate. It’s a rare combination of skills to be completely incompetent yet somehow be able to make everyone else around you feel like an idiot … but it does exist and it’s horrible to deal with.

        2. SJ*

          I actually HAVE that face! It’s really quite an excellent tool when used correctly! It must convey pity as well as your opinion of idiocy and probable inbreeding of the recipient. It is NOT to be used lightly and used extremely sparingly at work. I love the name, ‘bless your heart’ look…but I call it my, “Here’s your sign face!”

          1. Elfie*

            Yeah, I have a strong suspicion that I have that face too. I’m also blessed with a fabulous RBF, so I guess I’m a visual joy to be around!

          2. JustaTech*

            But do you use it when *you* are the one who is confused about something that someone else is training you on? That’s what makes it weird. Like, I totally get wanting to use it on someone you’re training, but not as the trainee.

          1. Grapey*

            Not the op, but in my experience asking about ‘challenging’ interactions with users/coworkers/trainees brings out how people feel about those that they need to help.

            Our department is about 50% end user support, and while we ALLLLL know about the “ID 10 T” and “PEBCAK” error codes, it’s not best to use them in an interview where we expect people to be on their best behavior. I had one guy roll his eyes and go on about the ‘illiterate morons he *had* to help’ in his last role. We set him aside and ended up hiring the woman that showed redacted before and after PDFs of the documentation she created to help reduce user support calls.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              I’ve gone my whole AAM life seeing the username PEBCAK and having no idea where it came from. Learn something new every day.

            2. But you don't have an accent...*

              I prefer “PICNIC” myself (Problem in Chair Not In Computer). We also like to say “There’s a loose nut behind the desk”.

      2. AKchic*

        All you can really do is Grey Rock them. When they want to get argumentative, J.A.D.E.

        They really believe their own made-up hype.

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          Exactly. Can you imagine being related to Cersei. Horrors! Or having married into her family? I don’t know which would be worse.

          All the Thanksgivings, all the Holidays. All the shrill, grinding awfulness.

          LW, if it helps you to be thankful you are *not* related to her while enduring her existence on this earth the next two weeks, consider it.

          Just imagine if she was your partner’s mom. Or your aunt. Or your mom’s best friend.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      Thanks for the laugh – I am so stealing the “They live in cubicles and feed on your anguish” phrase. Because I have encountered my share of these, and that is a PERFECT description.

    3. Emily K*

      In my former life in academia, you would see highly educated Cerseis who will attend a conference presentation and then raise their hand during question time and spend a bunch of time describing their own only tangentially-related research and then end on some weak question that presumes to justify the self-promotion, like, “Have you ever considered doing that?”

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        “This is a comment more than a question”
        [monologue on own pet topic]
        “Have you ever considered that?”

        1. Drew*

          I once saw a speaker shut that down immediately: “Luckily for you, there’s an online form for comments at the link right here!” [points to PowerPoint slide, still on screen] “But this time is reserved for questions, so let’s take one now.”

          You would have thought the poor comment-not-questioner had swallowed an entire watermelon. It was glorious.

          1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

            That would be a thing of beauty to see. Closest to the best I saw was the speaker listening through it and then asking, “Was there a question in there?”

            1. Gamzatti*

              Heh. When I was in college there was this guy in one of my classes who would go on crazy long tangents about the Food Network every time the professor called on him to ask/answer a question. After a few weeks she would just look at him and say “not if it’s about the Food Network” any time he raised his hand. The professor was one of those people who attempts to mimic your lip-movements when you talk, but that’s another story.

              (It was somewhat obvious that he was on the spectrum, so other students were more amused than annoyed, but holy shit was that a time waster.)

          2. The One and Only Me*

            Funny story: I have a friend who loves to comment on everything even if it’s not relevant. She belonged to a WW group and told me that she loved it because she could share her “tips” with others. I was visiting her and we were in this little coffee shop. The woman behind the counter looks at my friend and says “do you do WW?” My friend recognizes her and says “Yes! What happened to you? You stopped coming.” The woman shook her head, handed us our drinks and said “I found another meeting because you never shut up. Have a nice day.”
            It was like she had been waiting her whole life to say this to my friend. LOL!

          3. Bagpuss*

            You get a similar problem at literature festivals and cons. I was once at a Neil Gaiman event , and at the start of the Q&A he started by telling a brief anecdote about a very long winded comments and highlighted that a question is a short, interrogative sentence or two. (I’m sure he described it better than I can, but it was good to have someone call it out in advance)

        2. Turtle Candle*

          You know that fairy tale where frogs and toads drop from the evil sister’s mouth when she speaks? Everyone who says “This is not a question, more of a comment” at a conference should immediately be afflicted by that for at least a week.

          1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            I have a friend threatening to Cosplay at Local Con as ‘This is more of a cormorant than a question”

        3. OP*

          The problem is she never gets to the “have you considered that” because she will not shut up about how awesome she is.

        4. The Other Katie*

          One of the best panel moderator actions I’ve ever seen was someone who responded to “this is more of a comment than a question” with “This is the time for questions!” and immediately called on the next person. It was amazing.

      2. twig*

        These people pop up in Ukulele workshops too. They act like they are going to ask a question of the instructor, and instead start a lecture that they think is related to the topic at hand.

        They know what they’re doing: One of these individuals referred to it as “Guerilla teaching.”

        DUDE. We didn’t pay to listen to random audience member — we paid for instruction FROM THE INSTRUCTOR! If you want to teach a workshop, talk to the conference organizer! Don’t take over someone elses workshop!

        1. Snark*

          I used to do guided climbing trips. They show up there too. “Uh, bro, can I ask why we’re using Camalots? When I’m on sandstone I really prefer the solidity of a stopper and this route really reminds me of this gnarly 5.12 I was leading on in Indian Creek and wakka wakka wakka wakka….”

          1. Snark*

            NARRATOR (Werner Herzog): “In reality, where nature does not care for your ego or your delusions, using a stopper on zis sort of route would result in your plummeting to a meaningless death.”

            1. Drew*

              “By all means, please demonstrate your technique!”

              OK, you can’t actually allow students to plummet to their meaningless deaths, but the thought sustains me.

            2. Anonicat*

              I’ve been imagining the narrator from Jane The Virgin for this kind of thing, but Werner Herzog will be so much better.

              “Did the admin assistant thwart the coordinator’s unrecognized genius? Did they pass this way thousands of years apart? Or did they work side by side as friendly colleagues (while the coordinator bitched about the assistant behind her back to everyone in the office)?”

          2. Josh S*

            “Because the dynamic response of a Cam exerts more pressure when you fall, keeping you from killing your dumb a$$. That’s why.”

        1. Hellanon*

          “Hmmm, that’s an interesting approach. However, what we’re going to be doing instead is x, y, z because it generally gives better results.”

      3. PB*

        UGH! Yes. I am also in academia, and see this all the damn time. There’s one scholar in my field who’s really well known and does this all the time. Since he’s a big name, no one wants to wrong him. When he starts talking in a conference, everyone seated in front of him starts nodding. Everyone seated behind him starts rubbing their temples and mouthing “Oh, God.”

        1. Cactus*

          There was a woman like this in my grad school cohort. She was NOT a big name (she just thought she was), and still, nobody with authority wanted to step in. She could start a conversation talking about the something on-topic and end up discussing hiking, her ex-boyfriend, Napoleon, Scotland, canned fish, and any number of other things. It was exhausting.

          1. Ms. Alex*

            Oh yes, I think I had a class with her in college, where she started every feedback to the book we were studying with something about her Venezuelan fiance. The professor must have adored her because he let her go on and on, while a few others of us just internally rolled our eyes. And then the Venezuelan fiance actually attended the last class and a couple of us just lost it.

          2. Ms. Alex*

            I should clarify – she always just referred to the guy as ‘my Venezuelan fiance.’ I’m not sure I ever heard his actual name.

      4. Freelance Accountant*

        I attended a general-interest lecture a few months ago about a local museum collection that features exhibits related to the first world war. One of those “comment disguised as a question” people tried to get on a soapbox about talking to and including actual world war one veterans in the process of creating this exhibit.

        World War One. 1914-1918.

        I think the presenter was speechless and trying to figure out the kindest way to shut her down, but someone in the audience helpfully yelled out “They’re all dead!” before the presenter said anything.

        “Comment disguised as a question”-er tried to save face and pivot to a comment about the input of veterans in general, but the presenter had already moved on.

      5. Scotty_Smalls*

        Confession time: My mom is like this and I have to watch myself not to be like that. My mom will go off on 3 tangents when given a chance to speak. I try really hard not to monopolize question and answer sessions at work with my suggestions

        1. The One and Only Me*

          At least you know you lean towards this and are really making the attempt to not be like this. Not everyone is as self aware.

        2. Hellanon*

          Ooof, yes. It’s always amazing to me how many current issues in really any field can be solved by references to how they did things in a New England boarding school 75 years ago *rolls eyes*.

        3. Le Sigh*

          Ugh, this is my dad and an inherited family curse I bear and work everyday to supress. Why couldn’t I just have the nice hair color w/o the need to give advice on everything?

      6. Anonymeece*

        Ugggh. I see those every conference. The worst was one where I was facilitating a guest speaker, and I asked, “Does anyone have any questions for JohnSmith?” and a person did the “more of a comment…” and proceeded to critique the guest speaker’s speaking skills. It was mortifying. Thankfully the guest speaker took it in stride, but seriously, as soon as I hear, “More of a comment” from now on, I’m interrupting, “Nope, sorry, this is for questions only!”

        1. Sarah*

          I wish I could remember who the author is that did this (because this is SO painfully common at literary festivals), but a man started to say that and she said, “No, next question,” and looked to whoever was next for the mic. She is my hero.

          1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            A recent local convention featured the kazoos of shame. You’re making a comment, rather than asking a question? YOU WILL BE KAZOOED BY THE PANEL. It went in my bag of tricks, right next to one I saw at a history conference where people who overran their slots got THE CLAW, as the chair of the session raised his finger, and eventually began stalking towards you, finger outstretched.

      7. First time poster*

        My dad is a minister, and this is also an issue in memorial services that have a time for sharing. Most people tell a sweet or funny story about the deceased or speak about the person’s good qualities and how much they’ll miss them. However, a good 20% choose to take the time to tell a long-winded story about themselves that just happened to have the deceased peripherally present. The other stories are usually good enough to not abandon the practice, but it makes me crazy every time it happens. There’s limited time, and you chose to take 10 minutes to tell us all about you?

        1. WS*

          At the funeral home we attended for both my grandparents, they had a beautiful set of windchimes hanging in the corner. They would chime them by hand at 5 minutes and 9 minutes, and after 10 minutes, do an extra long series of chiming, thank the speaker and bring up the next one! It was actually a very soothing sound, but highly practical.

    4. VictorianCowgirl*

      I honestly don’t understand why OP can’t su something like “Trainer person, can we move on from this and finish the session now please?” Or “it would help me out a lot if the tangents can be kept to a minimum, and this is a tangent and I’d like to continue the training presentation now” or something along those lines? Not addressing Cersei, but tree trainer in those moments?

      1. Le Sigh*

        Well, framed that way, I worry it could come across as publicly criticizing how the trainer is running things — which might not go over well (even if accurate), esp. when you’re new and very junior.

      2. OP*

        Because the new VP of all Retail banking (aka the boss of our entire department’s boos) is in the class with us. I do not have the guts to stand out in front of him like that.

        1. Redhead*

          That’s probably a good call. The trainer or VP should be handling her better, but it’s not on you. Remember all the suggestions from this thread for the future so you can handle it when you’re in that position, but not now.

      3. desk blanket*

        It could hurt the credibility of the trainer to call it out in front of the group, and OP says below they don’t want to do this in front of their new boss. But they could approach the trainer one-on-one during a break or after class, and frame it in terms of their own learning, like you suggested.

  1. Eulerian*

    The good news here is you are very quickly learning a very important life skill – how to cope with people who think they’re better than you. You’ll come across people like her again – though, hopefully not as bad.

    Learn to keep your cool, give yourself permission to not take her seriously, and you’ll actually come out a lot better for it.

    1. starsaphire*

      Yep. I really love Alison’s take on this: pretend you’re at the zoo, watching the chimpanzees screech and fling their, uh, “opinions.” Stand out of range of the “opinions,” and enjoy the show.

      1. JokeyJules*

        While I’m proud to have been able to adopt this outlook, the one drawback is that you have to try to stop yourself from laughing

        1. Carrie*

          I had to mute myself on a conference call right before I burst out laughing at a ridiculous monologue from one of these individuals. Glad I pressed the button in time.

              1. Vermonter*

                I did actually whisper-hiss “shuuuut uuuuuuuuup” to my manager without covering the phone once. Luckily he didn’t hear me over the sound of his own voice.

            1. Specialk9*

              Someone on a call today didn’t realize how well the mic was working. The big boss (on the call) talked for awhile and she snidely, said, quietly but audibly, to her neighbor “yeah thanks that really didn’t answer the question”. We all just kind of closed our eyes.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I’m fond of rolling my eyes and making faces at the phone while I’m on conference calls, when someone’s going on and on. Occasionally including flipping the phone off.

            Caveat – do not do this if you’re also on video. That does not end well. No, I’m not speaking from experience, why do you ask?

            1. Hellanon*

              … if you’re also on video.

              Which is where having practiced a look of compassionate patience comes in. Downside to that skill is that people who know you well will come sidling up to you afterwards and whisper, “You weren’t really listening, were you?”

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Shout out to OP for writing to Alison instead of finding a group of people who are less cautious and more vocal of their feelings. I’m sure there are a few lunch/coffee break groups who discuss Cersei’s latest lament. OP hasn’t found or joined them. Good for you. They are there as well, and will do you no favors by jumping on the band wagon.
      Trust when Alison tells you, everybody knows Cersei is a jackass. Nobody thinks she has more to offer the group than the presenter does. Nobody appreciates or respects her one woman show.

        1. MassMatt*

          I get Alison’s advice but a lot of this is on the trainer. This blowhard is monopolizing class time and presumably people are not learning what they need to know. Maybe the training is a waste of time anyway but IMO it could be worthwhile talking to the instructor and saying hey, stop letting the blowhard run the class.

          1. Observer*

            That’s true. But as Alison notes, she’s not talking to the trainer, or her advice would be very different.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I was at a three-week training once for social work where we were all brand new hires. One of the participants made racists comments just about every time she opened her mouth. I was appalled and could not understand why the trainer wasn’t shutting that stuff down. We show up the following Monday for week two of the classes and the racist student was gone. The trainer briefly explained that she liked to evaluate people the first week and make recommendations to their respective managers. Turns out, that student was fired over the weekend for that behavior in training. We remaining students were all complemented by the trainer for keeeping our cool in the face of the racist comments because, as future social workers, we’d meet all kinds of clients and we wouldn’t be able to necessarily shut down a client who used that kind of language. (I disagree with that since I’ve had experience since you can indeed respectfully and politely shut that down but at the time I thought it sounded good.)

            It’s only Day Two in OP’s class. Maybe the trainer is giving Cersei rope to see what she does with it.

            1. Wintermute*

              This is a good point, it’s sometimes better for the organization to let them build a strong case for firing someone in their probation period because they’re not behaving appropriately than to shut them down and not be able to build that case.

              Sadly, it doesn’t sound like Cersei is doing anything worthy of immediate termination, like racially charged comments, and too few employers view routine misbehavior like hers as actionable.

    3. willow*

      Another life skill to learn here – don’t share personal info (your finances) on a grand scale, to general work acquaintances. The Cerseis of the world will use this against you to embarrass (as you have found out), or to actually attack. (I am in martial arts. If someone is complaining about that sunburn they got at the beach, you can bet that when it’s time to spar, I will be slapping those shoulders. They gave me info about a weakness I would otherwise not have known about.)

      1. Snark*

        My wife leads regular, and pretty hardcore, krav maga practice sessions. New guy once made the mistake of talking about how sore his shoulders were. The entire rest of the class was like FRESH MEAT

      2. OP*

        I made a more detailed account of why I told that information somewhere in another comment, but it was a slow burn reveal that was appropriate why I revealed it. The short of it is a series of exercises the entire class told increasingly personal stories surrounding the idea of not judging our customers for their financial mishaps and seeing how everyone makes bad choices with money and needs help sometimes.

        1. Oculus Rex*

          This sounds like a rather poor teaching exercise, if the point is to have participants reveal such personal information to one another. My opinion of this “training” and the faciliator is dropping with each new nugget of WTF you reveal!

        2. Observer*

          I get what they were trying to do, but I agree that it’s a trick tactic, with a LOT of potential to go bad.

          I’d try to avoid this kind of revelation in the future. Despite what the trainer is telling you, it doesn’t always go well.

          Also, given that you made this reveal specifically because of the demands of the trainer, and the point was to make people LESS judgy, I’m sude-eyeing the trainer. If for no other reason than if you want people to open up you had better make it safe for them to that. If not, people are NOT going to share. Of course, there is also the (not so) little matter of his responsibility in the matter, too.

      3. Specialk9*

        Seriously. Please don’t talk about your finances at work, except in really careful narrow ways, like “hey do you know which of the 401k options have the lowest fees?”. But really, don’t tell people that you messed up your finances. Especially not if you’re a woman. Especially especially when talking to a group of people who will blow away like dandelion seeds to all the parts of the company and potentially shape opinion about you.

    1. No Mas Pantalones*

      Yup. Just let her dig her own hole. Imagine all of her monologues are a shovel digging deeper and deeper. She won’t be there long.

  2. SheLooksFamiliar*

    There’s a Cersei in every office, workshop, conference, networking meeting…privately roll your eyes, know that others see the Cerseis of the world for what they are, and ignore her. You are going to be just fine!

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          Okay, go home everyone. The internet has been won today and there is nothing more to see here.

    1. Slartibartfast*

      What’s fun is when there’s two, because they tend to cancel each other out. I once had the two most high maintenance Cersei type clients come in at the same time, interrupting and trying to talk over one another for about five minutes til they both got fed up and stormed out. It was a thing of beauty.

      1. froodle*

        Oh gosh I saw two of them go at it once, it was like Godzilla versus Mothra and it did *not* restore balance.

        1. Wintermute*

          the problem with having Godzilla and Mothra battling it out is that the rest of the session’s participants end up playing “man on Tokyo bus #3”

      2. WS*

        I used to work with two of them, and they spent the whole time battling each other for office supremacy, so the rest of us could quietly say, “Uh huh,” and go on with our day. One of them was eventually fired (it turned out she didn’t have a qualification she said she did) and the other one was devastated.

  3. Bea*

    Thank God it’s just training and this boar won’t be in your every day life! This is one of those obnoxious personalities you’ll find here and there, they never ever listen to reason so just ignore and internalize.

    She’s a pathetic person who is an attention seeker. I had someone who sucked at everything once tell me something about “doing this longer than you’ve been alive” and believe me, they still couldn’t even fill an expense report correctly or give me receipts without badgering. Bless their old hearts.

    1. Eulerian*

      Yeah, it’s amazing how often ‘doing this longer than you’ve been alive’ really doesn’t mean ‘better than you’.

      I suspect Cersei’s deeply insecure – why would someone who’s so confident in themself feel the need to keep going on about how awesome they are?

      1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        You hit the nail on the head. I’m obsessed with “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and there’s a section that mentions how someone who is happy or confident just IS and doesn’t feel the need to prove that they are to other people. It’s also a good example of how if someone truly is all the things they say they are, their work would just speak for itself and there’d be no necessity to shove it down everyone’s throats.

        1. Eulerian*

          Yeah, I have that book. You’ve just given me another reason to actually get it off the shelf and read it.

          1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

            I LOVE it! Probably more than a normal person should, but I flip through it and reread sections I highlighted whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself or worrying about stuff that’s meaningless. His sense of humor isn’t for everyone, but the main message is solid and applicable to everyone.

      2. annejumps*

        I was just about to say. She sounds like she’s wildly insecure and acting out, terrified of being replaced by younger employees.
        Not to excuse her behavior, of course.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          SO MUCH THIS. It’s really, really difficult to find a drop of compassion when you’re desperate for someone to just Shut UP, already.

          But if it helps, Cersei is terribly insecure, and the only way she can cope is by trying to show that she is So Much Better at every opportunity she can find, seize, or manufacture. Someone who really is that awesome probably doesn’t feel the need to rub everyone’s nose in it, and to reinforce their perceived status every single time.

        2. Formerly Arlington*

          As someone closer in age to Cersei than OP, I totally agree and wish she’d stop giving 40+ people a bad name. The insecurity is so obvious it’s embarrassing!

      3. Bea*

        Yes, it’s often snobs need to keep trying desperately to show they’re “better” in some way. My response is usually internally making a list of me vs them. Rarely do they actually come ahead.

        I’m extra salty towards these people because my own grandmother was like them. And I disowned her for it.

      4. ComputerD00D*

        “You’ve been doing this for 30 years? Bless your heart! I think it’s so great to see Senior Citizens keeping their minds agile with work!”

        We had one of these in my first IT job. He knew so much more than the whippersnappers. Even though he’d never touched a computer that was smaller than a refrigerator. All of his experience was from the early-mid 70s. This training class was held at the start of 2012.

        He lasted two weeks.

      5. FD*

        I suspect Cersei’s deeply insecure – why would someone who’s so confident in themself feel the need to keep going on about how awesome they are?

        It reminds me of a bit of an observation from when I worked in hotels. People who are legit rich–you generally can’t tell. There were a few people that stayed at the hotel where I worked who seemed like normal, everyday people, and later I found out that they were millionaires.

        People who insist on bragging constantly about how rich they are, and how expensive all their crap is? Are way more likely than the average person to have their CC decline.

        We had one person who EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. he stayed would insist on standing at the front desk for twenty minutes telling us how expensive his car, equipment, etc. was, but inevitably when you’d try to authorize his card, we’d have to spread it over 4-5 different cards to get him checked in.

        1. Bea*

          I live a life where I’ve had to tell multiple business owners I need a different card because the one they gave declines. Oh the stories you’ll hear about all the compromised cards and I’m just internalizing my smiles. I’m not new, I know you’re not paying your bills for whatever reason.

          I even have Nobodies try to blame their personal assistants and “accountants”.

          1. Chinookwind*

            For the record, I did have a boss who learned that an AMEX can be declined, but only if the A/P guy deems it not critical to pay the balance on time. I have never felt so bad for my boss (because it was a business dinner with clients) and we solved this from happening again by having me monitoring all bill payments for our office.

            BTW boss didn’t give the waiter a B.S. story, just handed his personal card over without comment. That is how the rich deal with this type of issue.

            1. Bea*

              Another AP person who just made the list…

              There are certainly folks who are declined due to idiots in accounting or a compromised card, it’s that kneejerk reaction to fight the person telling you it’s been declined I’m crotchety about.

              Your boss must not have been high enough to fire that jabroni on AP which is unfortunate and reason 736 why I’ll never work where AP makes its own rules.

          2. FD*

            And I mean, I even get it with one card–it’s actually pretty common for credit cards to decline if you forgot to notify the card company that you were going out of state (it’s a fraud protection thing). But more than one at the same time? Yeah, no.

        2. Antilles*

          That’s because in order to get truly rich, you often need to go through a phase where you cut every single corner you could to save a penny. That’s why even after people become ultra-wealthy, there’s still some lingering absurdity like “Warren Buffett still lives in the house he bought in the 50’s”, “Bill Gates refuses to use the dishwasher to save on electricity” and other absurdities – even though they could easily afford to do something else, the mindset of ‘do I really need to spend that money…?’ still lingers.

          1. AKchic*

            There’s nothing wrong with practicality and continuing to live sensibly frugal, even if you have money to literally burn.
            My life motto is: I’m broke.
            Doesn’t matter what I’m doing with my life, doesn’t matter what I’m buying, where I’m living or what I’m driving – I. Am. Broke. Flat out broke. Don’t ask for money, don’t ask me how my finances are, don’t you dare hint about a loan or bemoan your financial state. I’m broke and I will agree about the sad state of affairs and complain too. I am not a bank for my family or the fairweather “friends”.

            It generally works. Some people have questioned my financial state and they get a blank look back. Sorry, how I afford things is a matter of intergalactic diplomacy and international trade laws prevent me from divulging. Most back off, confused.

            1. Cucumberzucchini*

              This is my SOP as well. I’m broke. Always. Even sometimes with my parents, well specifically my mom. I’d like to tell them when I’m doing well, but it’s better to just not get into the money side. It’s not that they’d want money from me.,, My mom just gossips. A lot.

            2. The Other Katie*

              Ditto. I never mention anything I spend money on, how much it costs or anything else. If someone in my family really honestly needs something I’ll “take it out of my savings”, but I know them and their spending habits and all of the above and just no.

        3. JokeyJules*

          ah, isnt working in hotels fun?
          One man wasn’t the highest tier of our loyalty and rewards program, and took multiple items from the not free and clearly labeled “market” we had, and we saw it all on the cameras and in person. So we would put it on his room. It wasn’t much, just a few waters, and cookies and crackers. I think the total came out to like $17.
          When he sees the charge added to his bill he was LIVID. He comes to the desk shouting about how he is RICH and IMPORTANT and how do we not know who he is?!!?!! He’s “a CEO” and we shouldn’t be charging him for the items in the first place. We should just be happy he chose to stay here. (I googled his name and found nothing, btw. not even a linkedin)
          After my manager gets involved, we ended up needing to use cash and 2 different cards to cover the $17 tab. Fun times.

        4. NW Mossy*

          Also, wealthy people tend to place a very high premium on their time, and often are willing to pay more for something to waste less time.

          Standing around bloviating about oneself is a supreme time-waster. It only is worth spending time on if you give a crap what others think, and the wealthy generally don’t need to worry about the opinions of others all that much.

        5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep, this is definitely my experience too. Clients who feel the need to tell me that they have SO MUCH MONEY invested with us and we should be BENDING OVER BACKWARDS to make them happy… well, they’re never, ever even within spitting distance of our actual high-asset tiers.

        6. Wintermute*

          Having worked at a private lake club around people that had varying levels of obscene wealth it really depends.

          You are absolutely accurate about old money, and people with truly obscene amounts of money no matter the source. They tend to be very frugal, actually, even though money to them is like clean water. Most Americans can’t internalize what water scarcity is like because every time they’ve needed it they’ve just been able to turn on a tap and there it is, as much as they could ever possibly use. Maybe if they wanted a MASSIVE amount of water like to fill a pool it took a bit of special attention, but mostly they never had to worry about where the water to cook dinner or take a shower was coming from.

          For these people, money is like that. And they don’t waste it on principle, though they’ll spend fantastic amounts when it’s worth it to them– and you really never know they have it.

          People that are modestly wealthy, just like people that have had some modest career success in this analogy, tend to be like Cersei. It’s truly impressive when you see one of the later put one of the former in their place though, because there’s a certain kind of shade that you learn growing up among the society pages that is both undeniable and totally deniable, completely classy and absolutely devastating to the ego of someone who’s demanding “do you know who I am” to someone who’s an heir to a 20th century industrialist that is in the history books.

          1. The Other Katie*

            I suspect this might be due to the nature of a private lake club, which one either belongs to because family or whatever (old money) or for bragging rights (new money). New money folk with no need to brag would never find themselves there in the first place. As a former tech person, I know a lot of geeks who are sitting on mountains of cash and assets from multiple Silicon Valley buy-outs or showers of stock options, spend money on shiny computer kit or expensive private hobbies like flying microlights, or the really rich ones went and bought a house in London or SF or something, but still wear the same cargo pants and freebie t-shirts they’ve always worn and give few outward signs of the number of zeroes in their bank accounts.

        7. Sarah*

          OMG this reminds me of a dude we had stay with us once. (I worked in a boutique hotel in a major city in the UK that was hosting an internationally-known event at the time.) He spent MONTHS reaching out, reminding us he was [famous actor]’s brother and very wealthy and asking for all sorts of accommodations and recommendations. It got to the point where a month before his arrival we were all 100% done with him, but we had our customer service faces on and treated him like the professionals we were.

          When the time came for him (and his sister and their parents) to check in, the father went to put his card down and we said, “Oh, no worries about that, [annoying dude] said the trip was his treat so it will all be charged to his card.” The sister burst out laughing and said, “Oh will it? Our dad pays that card, just take the card he’s offering now, the money will all come from the same place.” The parents and sister were an absolute JOY to have in the hotel. The brother? Not so much. Everything was wrong, he wanted to be completely catered to, and every minor inconvenience was met with, “For the amount of money I’m spending, you’d think I’d at least get…”.

          And then for a month afterwards he emailed about how great everything had been and how he couldn’t wait to bring his whole family back the next year. I was SO glad I knew I’d be gone.

        8. fairy*

          I play a lot of video games, and while there’s the occasional douchebag in the highest ranks, the guy who brags how much he’s destroying the enemy every game or how good he would be if his stupid teammates weren’t holding him back, usually just sucks. hard.

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I find that treating it like a show and framing it as insecurity is both satisfying and effective. It helps you disengage with the bad actor, makes you a little more empathetic (without being a pushover) in dealing with them, but lets you let them dig their own graves. You also get the bonus of watching someone behave like a maladjusted toddler, which can be amusing in a sad-clown way.

        As Bea notes, there are Cerseis everywhere in life, and you will definitely have to live/deal with one. It’s great that OP reached out to Alison and has the chance to deal with a Cersei up close and personal, because this hobgoblin will keep coming around.

        1. Empty Sky*

          I use the same framing and it helps me. My job frequently involves getting buy-in from a lot of disparate people, and I run into somebody like this every once in a while. The trick is to remember that it’s about them and not you, and try not to take anything they say personally. If you can figure out what it is that they are insecure or worried about, and find some way to help them out with it (or at least an acceptable way to express sympathy or solidarity) you can often get them on your side to some extent. Very often they are used to being ignored or shut down for obvious reasons, so this can be quite effective. You don’t have to like them, but if your job depends on their cooperation then it’s a useful skill to have.

      7. EditorInChief*

        That’s an uncalled for comment. No need to be ageist. Ceresi would be annoying regardless of her age. How is this comment allowed to stay posted?

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Alison doesn’t see every comment.

          If you want to flag something for her review, the best way to do so is to reply to the comment in question and include a link in your response so that it goes to moderation.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            FYI: I’ve already done that, so no need for anyone else to. (My comment is still in moderation so she’ll see it eventually.)

      8. Toxic waste*

        Omg this: “doing this longer than you’ve been alive’ really doesn’t mean ‘better than you’.”


        This sums up my current coworker- though unfortunately we have to work together and not just during training…. She thinks that she is entitled to everything just because she has been with the company for X years.

      9. Not So NewReader*

        ‘doing this longer than you’ve been alive’

        “And you are still doing it? No big promotions? Must be you aren’t very good at it. Maybe you should change fields.”

        1. OP*

          Actually she let is slipped that despite those 30+ years, she still hasn’t reached a manager level. She went on about how she wished she could mentor a young person but no one would give her a chance. I certainly won’t sign up to be her Sansa.

        2. AsItIs*

          ‘doing this longer than you’ve been alive’

          “Really? That’s so sad. I’m soooo sorry. And there you are with all us newbies, doing the exact same thing. ” (fake concern on face)

    2. Boom Chicka*

      Do we work together and I don’t know? I have a coworker who loves to talk about how long she’s been doing this work as though it means she knows more than me, even though she couldn’t do 95% of my job if her life depended on it (but I can do hers and often have to correct her mistakes).

      1. Bea*

        No, thankfully I’m certain we are talking about separate people. It’s sad that it’s an actual personality trait shared by many:(

  4. Myrin*

    Oh my, OP, that sounds like no fun at all.

    But really, what immediately came to my mind before I’d even finished your letter is what Alison writes in her middle paragraph: this is such – to borrow from the headline – bombastic behaviour that I can absolutely guarantee you that you aren’t the only one who sees, hears, and is annoyed by it.
    And while I so feel you on the agonising thought of having to spend another week in close quarters with this woman, maybe it’ll help you to think of how you’ll be relatively free of her after that and the only person this will really affect in the long run is Cersei herself.

    1. chaphust*

      Agreed! It took years for me to get this. Earlier, I’d think “Hmm, everyone else seems fine with this difficult person. It must just be me.” only to hear all the complaints from so many different people after the difficult person left. Now, in most cases, particularly in a situation like this, I’d think “Wow, you’re embarrassing yourself in front of people all across the organization. Wonder how long you’ll actually last.”.

      1. Renna*

        Am I the only one who gets really bothered that people like this “get away” with being so annoying? It might be immature, and something I’m trying to not be bugged about, but if the Cerseis annoy everyone, and no one says anything when EVERYONE has an issue, they just go on bothering the entire planet because no one ever corrects them. Where is the justice?!

        I know people being annoying isn’t really that big a deal in the grand scheme of things but it really does get under my skin. I loathe that people like this never change and apparently never get any incentive to do so.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          There are usually consequences, even if you don’t see them — consequences to things like reputation, references, network, people willing to work with them or go to bat for them, promotions (there’s a reason she’s still doing work that more junior workers keep taking over), etc.

        2. Observer*

          As Alison says, that ARE consequences. Always. You just may not see them. What goes round comes round.

          If the company does decent feedback on the sessions, it will be soon. Otherwise, it may take some time, but it WILL happen.

          Especially since this Cersei is so indiscreet – she’s spending lunch with a bunch of people in her department *incorrectly* bashing her manager’s handling of a situation? That’s what’s commonly known a career limiting move.

      2. boop the first*

        Oh geez, this is how I felt about a family member who was always a jerk! He kept bringing home strangers, and my other family members kept inviting him to things and I just Didn’t Get It. I was just a kid, and it felt a bit like gaslighting, made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Like maybe I did something to deserve feeling like garbage around this person.

        Later on, for the first time I was with other family members on my own, because suddenly I was a lone adult, and finally I was hearing all of the complaints that must have gone on as soon as we would leave. Turns out, they were only being nice to the jerk in order to keep him from isolating us from everyone! What a damn relief that was. I really did think I was crazy.

        It really helps when people are being jerks to you, to be able to shrug it off because finally, you know that they don’t have the kind of power to influence crowds that they think they do. I really wish I could have learned this at a younger age, when grade school was so difficult socially.

    2. OP*

      I actually caught another classmate openly rolling their eyes during one of Cersei’s rants the day after I sent this letter.

    3. Wintermute*

      You raise a good point, if dealing with her eight hours a day for a few days is tiring, imagine how exhausting BEING her must be…

      While it’s true that some people have stress and other people are nonsymptomatic carriers, her behavior speaks of someone that’s deeply insecure and unhappy.

      1. Khlovia*

        “Some people have stress and other people are nonsymptomatic carriers.”
        Stealing it. So very stealing it.

  5. Claire*

    She sounds really insecure and angry that she’s in a training course, so she’s trying to reassert her values. not that it isn’t annoying, but this is definitely not the behavior of a secure person, if that helps make her feel less daunting

    1. sfigato*

      Yeah, she makes me kinda sad. Clearly it is someone who is feeling really insecure, probably in no small part because she is on the older side and has been laid off and is trying to compete with people half her age. I feel for her, even though these types of people are exhausting.

    2. OP*

      No, I don’t think that’s it. This is a course that *everyone* has to do. Seriously, we have one of our new VPs in the class. It’s awesome; we roleplayed customer service scenarios and I got to pretend to be an angry customer yelling at him.

    3. CM*

      Yeah. I think it could depend on whether this new job is a step up or not. If it’s a step up, then maybe this is the behavior of someone who’s excited and also kind of disappointed to be treated the same as everyone else during intake. If it’s a step down or a lateral move, I agree the most likely explanation is that she’s embarrassed to be there or feels like she’s having one of those dreams where you have to go back to high school or something, and she just wants to scream, “I got out of here already! I already did this!”

      And I think it’s relevant to bring that up because one of the things that’s really helped me tolerate the Cersei’s of the world (and it’s true, there’s one in every group) is understanding that all this loudness is the cry of a person who feels really small and doesn’t have good enough social skills to handle it without alienating everyone else.

  6. Submerged Tenths*

    You and Cersei may not ever meet again . . . because it sounds as though she may get herself fired once her blowhardness encounters the real world. Alison is so right: sit back, enjoy the show, and note the responses of any higher-ups who are also witnessing this woman’s outrageousness. That will give you valuable insight about who in your organization actually solves problems and who lets the inmates run the asylum.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Every time she opens her mouth, it’s just one more nail in her coffin–enjoy the fact that Cersei is doing it to herself. Saying anything to her will be pointless and you don’t want to be the one known for getting into a pointless arguement with That Person.

  7. CaliCali*

    Like others have said, you’re going to encounter these types throughout your entire career (whether you stay in this industry or not). Make it your goal to work up the chain so you have some authority to shut them the hell up.

    And yes, everyone sees these types for exactly what they are, but avoid the temptation to get too deep into a Cersei Sucks sh*t-talk fest with your fellow classmates (because, well, I’ve been there too).

    1. chaphust*

      Yep, that’s another thing I’ve learned. If you get a reputation for never gossiping, never trash-talking anyone, when you do have a complaint, it carries a LOT of weight.

      1. Butter Makes Things Better*

        So, so true! Being sparse with complaints does up your credibility factor. Of course, it still matters what your complaint is and how you frame it. And sometimes building that rep can take years and years. (Even three years into one job, I was told to make nice with a colleague who leapt from his chair and got in my face like he was about to bar-fight me, a small female. I guarantee “make nice” wouldn’t have been the solution if it had happened a few years later.)

  8. Bibliovore*

    Also a perfect example of what not to share in a work group.
    I may get heat for this but in “my thirty years” of work experience (yes that is in ref to Cersei) do not ever, ever, ever share personal experience in any group situation.
    Even in the most “touchy/feely” non profit/education/training/ school/ anything.
    Have surface stories ready for these instances.

    1. irene adler*

      Next time Cersei talks about her 30 years in the industry, I ‘d ask her about what her retirement plans are. Clearly, 30 years is quite a long time. She must be very close to retiring, right?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I was shaking my head in disbelief when I saw this, and I started working in my industry close to 30 years ago myself:

        Over two days she’s loudly bragged to everyone no less than seven times that she’s worked 30 years in the industry, and after learning my age she’s started to announce to people that she’s “been in the industry longer than some people in this room have been alive.”

        Maybe because I’m in IT, this is something I would never, EVER admit to in a workplace. Is it different in finance?

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yeah, it’s pretty different. While finance isn’t an unchanging field, there’s a certain amount of value in longevity… as long as it’s paired with good sense and the ability to learn from everything you’ve seen!

        2. chaphust*

          Me too. I work in technology as well & have gotten to an age where I avoid making any pop-culture references. It’s not fun, but when I was the age of many of my co-workers, I would have thought someone my age was beyond ancient.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        30 years in her industry….

        So when is she going to start learning people skills? any time soon?

        OP, humor, it’s a powerful tool.

    2. sheep jump death match*


      You never have financial problems. Instead, you “know the difference between wants and needs.” Or “gotta retire somehow!”

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Upvote this if I could. People are making small talk. Keep it small.
      “How did you hear about this job?”
      “I found it online. I was excited by X in the job description.”
      “I found it online, thank god, because I really need to make more money. I can’t seem to save with school loans and my car payments.”
      Are you from this city?
      “Yes, I grew up and am happy I can stay local because I really like the area.”
      “Yes, because I really never want to move. My family and friends are here and I could never move away from them.”
      Just some things to think about. Because you are going to be meeting a lot of new people. Keep it simple and impersonal. Everyone will be happier.

    4. Sara without an H*

      Yes, a thoughtfully curated collection of superficial anecdotes is very, very valuable in any situation where you’re expected to do “ice breakers” or “team building” exercises.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        Oh, but you’ve got to have a few rehersed! My hubby was called upon to do the introduce yourself bit, but he was the last one because he works in IT support and was late to the meeting as he was dealing with an urgent support ticket. The exact words out of his mouth were “Uh, I’m Joey (not his real name), I’ve been here 4 years and I like kangaroos.”
        For the record, he does NOT like kangaroos, and he could not for the life of him explain where that sentence came from. He’s now (occasionally among the colleagues present at the meeting) known as Kangaroo Joe.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I did not know about this term! This is amazing. This subthread just saved me from a lot of awkward moments in future team-building events, when, nine times out of ten, I freeze.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I get a lot of mileage out of the funny thing the dog did yesterday. And people don’t seem to notice that I have not really share anything of any importance.

    5. LQ*

      Strong second to the surface stories. Having a suite of them ready to pull out at any point is super helpful. I’m in the process of moving and I’m milking this so for so long. It’s the only thing anyone knows I’m doing with my life right now even though there are way bigger emotional and other things happening. They will never know because moving! And it’s lightweight enough to be a 2 minute story, or an excruciatingly boring 5 minute story, and it’s detached enough that it’s not going to dredge up emotional baggage. Have a set of these in your back pocket.

    6. LKW*

      Sometimes I explain that I have 20 years experience but sometimes you need to do that to remind people that how things used to be is not how you might do things now.
      I had this today where we were saying how you used to define your process then build custom technology and then people realized that was expensive. So the Old Way is not better than the New Way. Sometimes I have to use my age and experience remind people that I’ve seen both and that they need to get with the times.

    7. Carpe Librarium*

      Perhaps we could start a thread in Friday’s open post for favourite surface stories or icebreakers.
      Or maybe Alison would like to make it a separate post.

    8. OP*

      Made a full explanation in another comment, but there was a legitimate reason to share my story, and I wasn’t the only one doing it. Plus it was a slow burn as I revealed tidbits of the information over several days (the reason I got the job is that the banker giving me the loan to pay off my credit card debt actually referred me for my job and is the reason everything was put into motion.)

      1. Workerbee*

        Sharing your story is okay, I think–people want to work with people, not faceless job titles.

        A sort-of silver lining is it also helps you flush out the Should Be Avoided types really early.

  9. Mockingjay*

    Ignore Cersei, politely as possible. When she rants, simply say “Thank you Cersei” and move on. Make sure you interact with the rest of the trainees. With such a wide range of company staff present, use the course as an opportunity to meet people and ask about their roles. You can make some valuable contacts and gain a better understanding of your new company’s functions.

    And don’t let Cersei’s monologues distract you from absorbing the info that is being presented. This is info the company needs you to understand in order to succeed.

    Kudos to you on your professionalism!

    1. OP*

      >Kudos to you on your professionalism!

      Um… I ended up writing an evaluation (we do one every 1-2 days because the classes are broken into modules) where one of my comments was basically “stop letting people interrupt the class and go off tangents or else I’m going to end up killing Cersei.” The full sentence isn’t verbatim… but “or else I’m going to end up killing” part is.

      In my defense, it actually worked, and the next day the instructor was shutting her down.

      1. desk blanket*

        this is great! I made a comment up above suggesting you do something like this (private communication between you and the trainer), glad you already had the chance to do so. Between this evaluation piece and the entire construct of a training for everyone at all levels, it sounds like your new organization has a good culture!

  10. Zona the Great*

    Or hope that someone else drops a small, “please shut up!” and you don’t have to! I’ve been in these situations before. Sometimes there is a person in the audience who can’t not say it. Those are great times.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          There’s a specific reason why I chose this user name and it would surprise nobody who knows me. :)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I like the advice about surface stories upthread.

      The personal finance one might, one day, be worked into a valuable “lessons from my past” anecdote. But the bad decision needs to be well in the past, and people need to know other things about you to give it the right minor-thread context.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I accidentally blurted out something like that once and was immediately embarrassed. Our resident meeting hog would always talk over others, even the presenter, to share what she knew (or thought she knew).

      At this meeting, the university travel office was presenting to our college to tell us about a process improvement that I’d been wanting for a long time, but that our college accounting office wouldn’t let us do. The head of travel was just about to tell us that we *could* use this process when Ms. Chatty chimed in to elaborate on how to do it the old way. I blurted out, “She’s just about to tell us right now!!” (think Izma from The Emperor’s New Groove shouting, “I NEED TO HEAR THESE WORDS!”). Several people gasped, and then chuckled, and the interrupter shut up and the presenter carried on with the meeting.

      1. AKchic*

        Our resident Chatterbox, Negative Nelly is quite the uh… specimen. She *just* “medically retired” a few weeks ago (and we aren’t sure if she did that to save face because she was forced out, or what).
        Dominating safety meetings, group lunches, would crash union-sponsored lunches (she is not union, she is corporate, and therefore *not* invited to these and knew it), wandering around the hallways before her ankle surgery, generally making a nuisance of herself.

        So many stories. Half the crew refused to bring/eat mashed potatoes in her presence again after her attempt at a seduction with mashed potatoes the Christmas before I arrived. How she wasn’t slapped with harassment write-ups is still a mystery, since it was reported, and everyone saw it.
        She was no longer allowed to drive herself to work (we’re on a military installation) because she reeked of alcohol every morning and the gate crews were alarmed (she failed at least two sobriety tests in the previous 12 months at the gate, and half that time she was at corporate away from our office because our building isn’t ADA compliant and she needed ADA accommodations for her ankle).

        Mornings aren’t my best time. I’m still in a lot of pain, my meds haven’t kicked in, my caffeine hasn’t kicked in, and having this whiny, derailing person interrupt the safety briefings to whine about her problems and brag about her trip to “Cabo San Lucas” (in a fake accent and everything, pronouncing it ‘Cah-bow Sahn Lew-kahss” while still having a nasally twang…) I started getting snarky. Not my finest moments, I’ll grant… but nobody else (looking at you, managers leading this chickenpoo operation) was dealing with her.

        Every derailment – “what does this have to do with the topic at hand?” “Can we get back to the safety briefing so we can get out of here and get to work?”

        She stopped coming to my office to whine a long time ago. I told her I wasn’t paid to be her friend (she got mad I wouldn’t accept her friend request on facebook).

      2. Sarah*

        I have definitely lost it a little bit with a colleague at one point and, after being interrupted for what felt like the hundredth time, interrupted her back and said, “Or I can finish my sentence,” and stared at her until she shut up.

    3. Prof. Kat*

      In high school, I had a totally wonderful teacher, Mrs. M, for Calculus. She knew her stuff, she was hyper-organized, her pedagogy was totally on point, and she genuinely cared about all her students. Even our resident loudmouth, Dan. As the semester went on, Mrs. M tried every (professional, appropriate, pedagogically sound) trick in the book to get Dan to STFU and let her lecture, but finally, she just gave up one day. She let out an exasperated, “Shut UP, Dan!” The class broke out in a round of applause.

      (This may sound a little like bullying, but trust me: it was necessary. Every teacher we had tried the “right” way to get Dan to stop talking over their lectures, and this was the only thing that worked. I like Dan and am still in touch with him 13 years later, but he seriously needed to STFU sometimes.)

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Sounds like the kids I used to work with in karate – there was a local ADHD doc who’d send them over to us to learn self-discipline. You *had* to be blunt with them because they simply didn’t realize they were acting up until you pointed it out, and then it was “ooooh, I was doing X again, wasn’t I?”

    4. chaphust*

      My husband did that. We were going to college at night — four nights a week for years. We were both taking this really interesting class taught be a knowledgeable, good instructor. This one guy, who my husband privately nicknamed ” Mr. Wizard” would interrupt with his thoughts & opinions on whatever the topic was causing the professor to not be able to get through everything or causing the class to run long. Finally, since the prof wasn’t handling it & we had an hour-long drive home & had to be at work early, my husband sat right behind the guy & just started whispering to him when he started up “Will you please SHUT UP!”. It did work. Not great, but it did get theses classes back on track.

  11. Artemesia*

    All this. She is shooting herself in the foot here.

    BUT never ‘open up’ about personal things at work and especially during training because you are also establishing your reputation. You don’t want to be known as the one with poor financial sense, or the dysfunctional family or recovering from X serious disease. Maintain privacy about your personal issues. A story about poor financial choices is just a poor choice for sharing in this type of environment.

    1. Bea*

      Agreed. I think these are two separate issues.

      One is a person who is insecure and acting out making everyone uncomfortable to say the least.

      Then the blabbermouth holier than thou person latching on to an over share.

      If she were in your department, this could be so much worse.

    2. Antilles*

      That’s true and definitely something OP should avoid in the future. But given OP’s youth, I don’t think it’s a major mistake; making a couple bad financial calls in your early 20’s isn’t something that most people will judge you for.

    3. Snark*

      Absolutely. Give her no rope to hang you, and all the rope she needs to hang herself. That means no disclosures about your age, personal history, work history, nothing, nada.

    4. Hobbert*

      100%! College is a sharing environment and everyone is immersed in that culture so it makes sense to assume that’s how the world at large is. OP, it is not. Coworkers can be wonderful, lovely people and you can enjoy working with them but their loyalty is, ultimately, to themselves and to the company. As yours should be, as well! Keep them at arm’s length while you’re getting used to the professional world and establishing your reputation. When you’re brand new and share a story about financial issues, you’re “the new person with financial issues”. No one knows anything else about you so it seems like that’s all there is to know. After a few years of hard work, a story like that is just an anecdote because people know your reputation.

      Side note- Cercei is also establishing her reputation. Everyone knows she’s a twit. Just ignore her as much as you can.

    5. Mazzy*

      Realizing she is shooting herself in the foot.

      This one is hard and I’m still learning. Sometimes when you see someone behave like this, it’s easy to think they’re getting away with it if you don’t see the behavior called out or discussed.

      But I’m learning that people do notice and these things eventually come into play in their careers. Are they immediately fired and never given a raise again? No. Are they passed over for promotions or plum assignments or not invited to meetings where management wants results quick? YES. It just takes time to see it happen in action.

      In my case, the Cersei is a guy who comes from a silver spoons background and who just sincerely believes his limited experience trumps all of our experience. He’s worked at a few big companies, but if he worked as hard at those companies as he does here, he didn’t actually get a huge amount of experience. I’ve caught him multiple times trying to tag his name onto projects and ideas he didn’t contribute to, or pretend to have experience in stuff that he’s just read about or tangentially worked on. It took a long time for other people to realize his BS. None of that came from me, but from him inserting himself in conversations that were above his level, and management realizing he had nothing to offer to the conversation or project. Or worse, he’d just give his two cents and then not contribute any work, thinking he was beyond the work hard to prove yourself phase.

    6. LizB*

      +1. If you think an anecdote is really going to add something to a discussion — like your firm is planning their marketing to young people assuming they will always have done X, but you think they should also take Y into account — you can always bring up “a friend of mine” or “several of my classmates from college” who experienced Y.

    7. OP*

      There was a justifiable reason for me telling this information. I didn’t pull out a megaphone and yell to everyone “hey, guess what?” I very slowly revealed this information over a few days at appropriate intervals when I felt it appropriate.

      The first day we were asked to share how we learned about the job. I said that the banker who did up a loan I got told me of the opportunity.

      At the start of the second day we were doing an exercise to demonstrate not judging our customers and understanding everyone has money issues every now and then. We were told to stand in a line and each person had to say something personal about a bank financial thing we’ve done (got an overdraft on our account, maxed out credit card bill, skipped paying a bill one month, and so forth) and everyone who had done that stepped forward so we could see who else shared our issues. With every case there were at least two people who ended up stepping forward. Since I was near the end of the line, most things had already been said so I put out “I’ve had to take out a loan to cover my credit card debit.” Three people stepped forward.

      Day three we went very deep into how our business stands out from the rest and we were asked to share our personal stories with the company. Stories were told like how the company helped cover someone’s mortgage payments for a few months after their husband suddenly died and now they were a single mother of three. Other people talked about not being able to afford a car and the company gave them 10% interest on a line when usually it’s something like 18%. Since I had been bonding with many of the people there and the nature of the stories being expressed, I told my own story of how the company helped me through a rather desperate situation.

      It’s not a poor choice to share a story about poor financial choices when that was the exact purpose of the exercise. So Cersei wasn’t just targeting me, she was targeting *everyone* who confessed their past money troubles. In fact, when it was her turn in line, she originally pitched her thing as “I have never missed paying a bill” and the instructor had to get her to pick something else because we were talking about times we didn’t make a good choice with our money.

      1. Slam*

        I think what you shared was appropriate and nothing to be ashamed of. Cersei just sucks and would latch onto anything to be negative.
        Your job and company sound great, don’t let the Cerseis of the world ruin it.

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    When faced with a Cersei, blessedly in limited contact with you, it can help to view them as an interesting anthropological exhibit: “What interesting dominance behavior! And that right there would be the threat response.” Let it roll off your back, because she is not your problem.

    Also, reinforcing Alison’s: “Cersei is destroying her own reputation here.” You need to stand back and make sure your fingerprints are nowhere near her spiral.

    1. Nea*

      This is the best idea ever! I’m going to apply it – and see if I can get my mental voiceover to be Richard Attenborough. Because if I can’t keep a serene distance, I can at least suffix the dominant roars with “Welcome to Jurassic Park!”

  13. KR*

    There might be an opportunity for feedback at the end of the training session, where you could say that you wished the trainer did a better job of moderating the discussion or something to that effect.

    My sympathies. We had a similar person in a recent meeting we all had to attend across the country.

    1. Amelia*

      My God yes. I know from personal experience that, as the facilitator, you dread these sorts in your training sessions, but come on! This is their job. The facilitator really needs to do a better job of clamping down in this behaviour. Now, I’m not saying it would be easy…

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yeah, OP says they have two more weeks. At some point, the facilitator is going to have to find a way to side-trace Cersei if anything is going to be salvaged.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes, please provide this feedback. I have zero patience for presenters who can’t take back control of the session.

    3. OP*

      Actually, I’ll send in an update when I’ve finished the course, but I ended up doing just that (the training is broken into modules, so every 1-2 days at the end of class we do an evaluation) and low and behold, guess how much better the instructor was at shutting down Cersei the next day?

  14. Dust Bunny*

    Sit back and be grateful you’re not the insecure weirdo that she is.

    Seriously, this stinks, but she’s doing more damage to herself than to anyone else.

    I would not, however, share any more personal information than you absolutely have to when she is in earshot. You can never trust people like this.

    1. MtnLaurel*

      I hired a Cersei years ago, and it was disastrous. However, now her reputation is preceding her, and it is now amusing to watch her implode. Take the long view and silently enjoy the show when it starts. And it will.

  15. Random Obsessions*

    As Alison said, enjoy the show.
    But also, if you’re concerned about missing content because Cersei’s monologues are taking too much time, see if you can get friendly with the instructors and get the information you miss from them.

  16. Birdee*

    I wonder if the presenter is not stepping up because no-one else is contributing when they ask the group a question. It’s a killer when you are presenting and all you can hear is crickets when you ask the group a question. I know when I present I appreciate anyone piping up (but I do shut down the ramblers -nicely!).

    1. willow*

      Yeah, the crickets are really demoralizing. Maybe, OP, when Cersei is in mid-ramble, you could raise your hand to give the facilitator a visual cue that someone else needs something answered, might make it easier for them to cut Cersei off. “Thank you for your input, Cersei, but I see we have another question. Yes, OP, what is your question?”

    2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      As a student, one of my pet peeves is when an instructor asks a really easy question and expects someone to raise their hand and answer it. I’ve long thought that being super eager to answer easy questions is a surefire way to come off like a Cersei: either like you have something to prove, or like you like to hear yourself talk. I think the ideal way to run a class is to cold-call on easy questions, then open up the questions that require thought to give anyone a chance.

      1. LQ*

        I’ve had sessions I’ve been to where I wanted to make a sign that said, “Yes, I know the answer, yes, you can call on me, no, I don’t want to be THAT person.”

    3. feministbookworm*

      Oh god, I’m always SO worried about turning into a Cersei in trainings where no one else is participating. I feel so bad for trainers/teachers who are getting nothing from the audience, that even if I’m not all that interested/excited about the topic I still end up being one of the most active participants because I just can’t stand the painful crickets.

      If I notice that I’ve responded or asked more than a couple questions in a short span of time, I start counting quietly to myself up to 15-30 in the hopes that there are folks in the room that just need more time to process before they come up with an answer or comment. But it is so painful.

    4. Fiddler*

      Eh, I’ve been teaching forever (lol, call me Cersei) and there’s nothing wrong with a long silence. A good teacher will sit comfortably with the quiet — many people need to think before responding. The problem is that Cerseis feel compelled to fill it, or pounce on the opening. It’s the teacher’s/trainer’s job to redirect or silence the Cerseis so that others have that opportunity. That’s a big problem here, not just that Cersei won’t STFU.

    5. OP*

      Actually the group I’m with is very good at discussions and asking questions. We even ran short during one presentation because we had too long a discussion.

  17. Phil*

    Sometimes one just has to see the entertainment in these situations. This person isn’t affecting your work life now and probably won’t in the future, so just use her as a powerful example of what not to do and laugh, hopefully internally.

  18. Elder Dog*

    There’s an old comment in dog circles … X says she has 30 years experience, but what she has is 1 year experience, repeated another 29 times.

  19. Wednesday of this week*

    I notice that most of her comments share the theme of being more experienced and therefore better. The behavior is still awful, but I think what’s going on is defensiveness in the face of ageism.

    I’m in my mid-30s and have a few colleagues like this. Honestly, I feel compassion for them. They’re very aware that the working world is often unkind to people over 50, and I hear all these remarks as trying to shore up their own value to themselves and others. I have even had one coworker–who keeps saying he will retire but never does–say directly that he needs to lord his decades of experience over the rest of us, because it’s all he has.

    1. Bea*

      It drastically depends on each set up. A person with a lot of experience and is personable can be a person who everyone hopes never retires. I’ve learned everything I know thanks to the generation before me. Nobody was ever pissy that I was “just a kid” when I started at 19. I was the youngest for years.

      The ones who think that age is all it takes to earn respect are the worst. Even my dad still constantly tells me that we’re all still learning and how much he’s learned from me over the years.

      It takes back and forth and mutual respect. It also takes actually being good at your job or expertise instead of “I’ve been mediocre for 30 years! Look how long I’ve lived!”

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      I mean – the working world is pretty unkind to people under 40 as well but we wouldn’t defend their bad behavior as a result of young ageism. I can’t tell you how many management meetings I’ve sat in about “These lazy millennials, taking paychecks and going home like they own the place”

      Honestly I’ve never heard people complain about groups of older people in the office. It’s usually a specific person – never bothered to learn email Carl or nosy Ned. It’s generally not applied to groups at large as nosy and computer illiterate.

  20. Trek*

    I tend to be a bit unforgiving to these types. I don’t insult them or challenge them but usually by the 5th day I repeat what they say. ‘You have 30 years of experience. Edward did you know that Cersei has 30 years experience.’ And on and on. They want to draw attention to themselves I usually assist. I also suggest they add that to their email signature or some other ridiculous place but I can deadpan really well and don’t come across as sarcastic.

    In your situation since you are making a first impression, sit back and watch the show as Alison suggestions, and make sure you have a goal of never becoming that person.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Yes to this! Or sometimes I reach for asking the question like I didn’t hear the answer fifty times already. “So how many years of experience do you have?” For less pathological strains of repetition, this tends to stop the behavior. And if it doesn’t, at least I’ve amused myself.

    1. LizB*

      I once got myself through a class with a substitute teacher I couldn’t stand by keeping a tally in my notebook of how many times she ended a sentence with “Okay?” (e.g. “Your reading assignment for last night was through chapter twelve, okay? But we’re going to start with vocabulary, okay? And then we’ll get into the discussion. It’ll be in groups, okay?”). She racked up over 50 in a 50-minute class.

      1. Stephanie*

        I had a professor I liked in college, but he cleared his throat when he was nervous. The first week I’d tally up his throat clearing. The first day was over 100 in a 50 minute class.

  21. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    You may not have experience with offices or corporate jobs or business, but you have experiences with jackasses. Yup, those obnoxious kids in school who wasted everyone’s time performing their own autobiographical plays during class, who did nothing but complain during group projects and try to hog all the credit, who challenged everyone just to hear their own voices…Suprise. Those little jackasses grow up to be big jackasses.

  22. Lynca*

    I start to glaze over anytime someone I am dealing with says they have X number of years of experience doing what they do. It’s always used to justify whatever they’ve been doing wrong.

  23. Admin Amber*

    Let her make a fool out of herself and just watch the S#*! show. Likely this individual is not “great” at work or life and has to talk herself up.
    I use this technique a lot and it is so helpful for many situations.

  24. The Doctor*

    “When we had a head of (her) department tell us a story of how he dealt with a certain client, at lunch she went on about everything he did wrong in the story and how she would have done things differently.”

    So Cersei did her Cersei-ing to the head of HER OWN department? That could (and should) come back to haunt her at performance review time. Then again, as others have noted, she is doing this to herself and needs no help from others.

      1. Annie Moose*

        But it does sound like a manager heard it! Even if that manager won’t have any direct control over Cersei, she very well could still pass that information along to whoever is in charge of Cersei…

        1. OP*

          This manager is actually of a branch that is a small town about an hour outside the city and technically isn’t in “our company”. (We’re an amalgamation of smaller banks and her brand is different from ours.)

          However, that head of department is subbing in as my location’s bank manager until we find a new one. I’ve seriously considered “casually telling the story of Cersei’s ridiculousness to another coworker” while he just so happens to be in earshot. Probably won’t… but there’s still another week of Cersei to push me to it.

      2. Observer*

        Plenty of people heard it – including a manager level person in that department, so it’s likely to get back to him. In any case, if she’s that indiscreet, the odds of her doing something else that gets her into direct trouble with her boss is high.

  25. realitygreene*

    Thanks to my childhood obsession with Britney Spears, I didn’t have to google the word bombastic.
    But in all seriousness, OP, Alison’s advice is spot on. Sit back and enjoy the show. Take comfort in the fact that you are not responsible for managing Cersei and can ignore her completely. But Also, don’t ever share personal info with Cersei again. She absolutely will use any info you give her to undermine you (as she has demonstrated).

    1. Ender*

      Today I learned that bombastic means two different things! I’ve always known it as the British version – using overly complicated words. But when I googled it I found out it also means being a loud mouthed show-off!

  26. Anon from the Bronx*

    The only problem with letting this person run on like this is if all the training material isn’t covered or the participants can’t ask their own relevant questions. The trainers really should be taking control! Not sure what OP can do though, but I would be plenty annoyed.

  27. Cordoba*

    The fact that she frequently finds “young kids” with no experience taking over her responsibilities indicates to me that she’s not even remotely the high-value font of knowledge she makes herself out to be.

    Cersi sounds like a blowhard who inflates her own importance. This not an uncommon personality type in professional environments, they are best ignored and/or internally mocked. It seems especially common with people whose jobs have made them the king of a very small hill.

    Don’t worry LW, everybody else is onto her and find her routine to be just as transparent and aggravating as you do.

    1. Snark*

      Yeah, someone who was self-aware would not find themselves bragplaining that they keep becoming redundant because entry-level workers get assigned their duties. That’s….not a thing to be proud of.

      But like Alison says, get yo’ Jane Goodall on and enjoy the dominance display, crouched with your little notebook.

      1. Nea*

        I am absolutely stealing “bragplaining.” It’s going to go right up with “martyrbating” in my vocabulary.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My guess would be that she’s got extensive knowledge of how things used to be and is struggling to keep up with technological advances that are improving, and thus changing, things. I’ve seen this happen multiple times.

      1. The Doctor*

        Bingo! “Living in the Past” was a catchy song by Jethro Tull, but it’s totally the wrong attitude for an office. (Did I just show my age?)

        As it happens, I have 30 years in my industry and recently had a 29-year-old direct report. While teaching him the ropes, I made sure to also learn as much as possible from him.

    3. OP*

      Yeah, she keeps talking about how she wants to move to a manager level and mentor and coach new people and tell them how to do things the “right” way. Yet for some reason she just can’t get a chance to do so.

      I’m not signing up for that mentorship.

  28. Amelia*

    I like Alison’s advice to sit back and marvel at the show. I think that’s all you’re going to be able to do unless the facilitator shuts her down. But just a practical tip: if she’s really going on and on, you could start leaving for frequent bathroom breaks. Honestly, sometimes it’s the only way I have been able to cope after days on end of this kind of thing. No one in their right mind would blame you for it.

    1. Khlovia*

      I’m seeing the entire population of the room trickling out in ones and twos, until the sole occupant is the yammerer. Even the trainer has left. They’re continuing the training session out in the hallway near the restrooms.

  29. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    The anthropologist advice is spot-on. I run David Attenborough’s voice in my head during these situations.

    “Here we see the bro-dude programmer in his native environment. Notice how he disposes of his empty energy drink cans in a careless manner, thus inconveniencing the others in the room. This is a classic dominance display for his species, but watch closely as it backfires…”

  30. Student*

    Depending on the format, there ARE a few things you can do.

    If she’s delaying a tour or similar (start of a meeting, lunch, etc.), butt into the conversation to get things moving. She’s talking at the tour guide and it’s the scheduled time for the tour to start. You know she’s just going to keep chattering, given the chance. Walk up, address the tour guide directly. Say, “Hi, sorry to butt in, but someone asked me to tell you it’s about time for the tour to start!” Or, “Hey, it’s about lunch time and I dunno about you, but I’m starving – could we resume this after lunch?” There’s no reason you need to let her ego trip dominate the whole group’s schedule. Another good tactic is to walk out of a meeting that she alone is preventing from ending to use the restroom. Once one person does it, others will follow suite, and things will wrap up faster.

    When she is trying to steal someone’s limelight, by jabbering during a presentation or whatnot, then you can direct focus back to the person who’s the expert/presenter by butting in with a question to the presenter once she starts talking about how great she is.

  31. Mike C.*

    If you want to take a more active approach, a little light calling out will go a long ways here. You aren’t going to be the only one who she’s pissed off and she might learn an important life lesson. Either way, you’ll look good to everyone else in the room.

    1. Snark*

      I dunno. I have called out these types in the past – no shocker, right – and in none of my experiments with confrontation did the confronted learn any life lessons. The results tended to be exaggeratedly wounded dignity and hurt feelings, or defensive retorts.

      1. Bea*

        Yeah. These are the sorts who then haul ass to HR to complain about how you make them feel uncomfortable and attacked. I don’t bother trying to steer them anymore, let them just keep wandering into traffic.

      2. voyager1*

        I think a lot of it depends on the situation. Frankly everyone is probably on their last nerve with Cersei, and it is a 2 week training. If you call her out then your run the risk of the story being the scene you caused and being just as difficult to work with and be around as Cersei.

      3. NW Mossy*

        To intentionally mix a metaphor, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it have a come-to-Jesus moment.

        In my own experience, it’s actually somewhat more fun to watch for whatever method the universe devises for delivering the desired set-down. We live in a vast and varied world, and when it deigns to give us a comeuppance of the Italian-chef-finger-kiss variety, it is truly rapturous to behold.

    2. President Porpoise*

      A better approach might be to approach the trainer and ask him/her to intervene a little bit more, as the comments are off topic and rambling and therefore super distracting and unhelpful.

  32. Sue Ellen Mischkey*

    I’ve worked with a Cersei. It was one of the worst work experiences of my life. She had been a nurse for “longer than I had been alive” and decided to come out of retirement to be an admin in healthcare. She drove everyone including management crazy. Her rants ranged from “why should I have to press 1 for English in AMERICA?” to the good old days before millennials. Sigh. She ended up quitting because she couldn’t catch on to simple computer functions such as turning it on and powering it off. I had to CONSTANTLY help her do even simple things such as navigate to open Word. Not to dig at persons who might not be computer literate but when you spend a good amount of time bragging and berating you should at least be able to do your own work independently. She was also an over-talker. No one else’s statements mattered. Only SHE could dominate the conversation. When she resigned she had a planned lunch of which I called out that day. Ha! She left me a nasty email waiting for me the next morning after she no longer worked for the company.

    1. Temperance*

      If she was truly that computer illiterate, she shouldn’t have been hired as a health care administrator. Wow.

      I hope you printed the nastygram and framed it. ;)

      1. Sue Ellen Mischkey*

        I did share the contents to my supervisor but coworker had been written off as batty well before that. She definitely shouldn’t have been hired but how can you truly test someone’s computer skills via phone and in-person interview? They were so focused on her being an RN and what she could bring from that angle that I’m not sure they even asked about her computer skill set. When I called in on the same day of her lunch, I really was sick that day ironically.
        The nasty email was something along the lines of: “the lengths some people would go to in order to get out of a lunch.”

        1. Unreality Monitoring Service*

          “how can you truly test someone’s computer skills via phone and in-person interview?”

          Well, their resume should show what they have experience in using/doing. You can then ask specific questions about skills and experience in the interview. If that’s not enough, then you do a skills test as part of hiring. And you ask references about these skills specifically.

          It sounds like the hiring process was seriously inadequate. And why on earth wasn’t she fired, if she was so incapable of doing her job?! Management really only have themselves to blame.

  33. Sara without an H*

    OP, when she starts on one of her monologues, try looking at the faces of the other attendees. I doubt very much if you’ll see all of them expressing rapt attention and admiration for Cersei.

    Alison is right. Cersei is shooting herself in the foot, you’re not the only one who’s annoyed, and, while Cersei may be senior to you, at least some of the other attendees are senior to Cersei.

    1. LKW*

      Oh yeah, definitely watch the watchers and you will find allies.

      Not only but if you really want to dig in and go for a ride ask any of the following questions (prefaced by “You have a lot of experience, I’m curious how you would…”
      1. Manage someone who is convinced their right, even though you have clear evidence they’re not?
      2. Deal with someone who is only focused on their own performance instead of the dynamics of the team?
      3. Tries to rally a team against a lead? How do you cut that off at the knees?

      But based on your description -if you can do this in front of the trainers, leads, established employees it will be hilarious and entertaining.

      I also think the big take away is – DO NOT BE LIKE THIS.

    1. Snark*

      Vaudeville hook. “I’ve been in this field longer than some people in this room have been ali-” YOINK

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Don’t be afraid to interrupt.

      “Thank you for sharing your experience, but I don’t think it quite relates to what we’re discussing” or “I think we’re getting a bit off track, as I was saying” or “We’ve heard a lot from you already, Cersei, let’s hear from someone else on this one.”

    3. Katelyn*

      I think it varies from the tried and true “Thank you Cersei, but I’d like to hear Wilhemina’s views this time.”, to having a side word with her about how of course she is valued, but since she has 30 years experience you really need to hear from the younger people in the room to be sure they’re getting it, and can she pull it back a little bit?

      That won’t solve her being insulting at other times, but should get the conversation going. All else fails, don’t ask for a response, call on people.

    4. Perse's Mom*

      I’ve heard everything from:
      1. Opening the training session by stating you’ll be calling on people at random (because you want to be sure everyone is understanding the topic and has a chance to contribute! this can include a flat ‘if we’ve already heard from you, I’m going to pick someone else’ so she’s forewarned – but then the class will also expect you to keep to that) to
      2. Taking the egregious offender aside during a break to explain the problem behavior and that it needs to end, to
      3. Getting the hiring manager involved to remove the offender, if this is in the context of new hires getting up and running. If it’s an existing employee who’s damaging the session for everyone else, their supervisor should be stepping in – but usually 1 and 2 still need to happen first.

      Also, don’t underestimate the role something like candy or small treats can play to get everybody else in the session more interested from the start. The last session I was in, the facilitator had marbles she handed out when people contributed and at the end, the person with the most marbles (or the top 3 people or whatever) could pick from small novelty prizes.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It’s too late for Cersei here. OP, the next time she is prattling on, think about the millions of readers on AAM. Think of these millions of people yelling “booooo” and throw shoes in her direction.

  34. ManderGimlet*

    As a trainer who encounters these types frequently, rest assured that the trainers DO notice and do follow up on disruptive, rude, anti-social, or otherwise “red flag” behavior. Often, it is in the best interest of everyone at the moment to focus on the tasks at hand and then deal with the problematic person afterwards, in private. I have certainly notified new hires’ managers of inappropriate behavior in training, and in some cases never saw those employees again.

    1. Not A Morning Person*

      Yep. Similar to the advice to never be rude to the receptionist. Don’t talk over the trainer and be rude and overbearing to the other new employees in your orientation and training classes. Good managers want to know about their new hires.
      And in a situation that as not for a job, I chose not to join a group after an orientation in which one of the participants monopolized the whole orientation session. I could not imagine choosing to subject myself to that for any future meeting.

    2. RVA Cat*

      This. Plus it’s not a bad idea for the OP to say something to the facilitator. Maybe she needs a certain number of complaints to shut down Cersei? That’s an absurb policy but it woukdn’t surprise me.

      Also, as a Gen Xer just now facing age discrimination, I’m angry at Cersei for perpetuating stereotypes that will eventually harm everyone.

  35. Czhorat*

    You’re the future. She’s the past.

    Anyone with three decades in any industry is bound to have some bad habits, misconceptions based on bad application of past experience to present situations, etc. That’s life.

    True story – a bunch of years ago, I was the somewhat-veteran sitting in the cube next to a young millenial. I had neckties older than he did, and more knowledge of business norms. He’d do things that I’d shake my head at, dress in ways that I thought was unprofessional. I’d quietly roll my eyes and know that he’d pay the price in his career. He, of course, ended up getting a better and higher paying job with someone he met in what I saw as his “unprofessional” dress.

    In other words, he was right and I was the opposite of right. Those of us with a decade of experience need to learn from the younger generation. We ignore you at our peril.

    1. LurkNoMore*

      This x 100! I’m one of those that has been here 30 years and when we get new blood in here I try not to judge their actions/work method. Who knows? Maybe it’s my company that’s done it weird all these years and the new employee has it right!
      My biggest issue is trying not to be the story teller when I’ve had a couple of drinks. I have such doozies from the past that I tend to dominate the conversation. I’ve tried to institute a rule of only one story a night.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A wise person has a variety of people that they know and they can talk with. This means people from as many demographics as you can think of. Everyone has something to offer.

    3. Close Bracket*

      For all you know, he got that job *despite* his unprofessional dress. I have a friend who has a friend who wears a suit from the 70s to interviews bc reasons (I forgot what they were, it showed something about him that he thought was job offer worthy) (Oh, he was old enough to have bought that suit new, so not a young guy trying to look hip in vintage). He got a job and basically said, see, it worked. Well, he doesn’t know that. Nobody knows whether that thing they did got them the job or was politely overlooked in light of their other qualities.

  36. Utoh!*

    We have a Cersei, she is one of our users who probably holds the record for the most calls and tickets, mostly having to do with nothing except needing attention. It’s comical when she calls about something that is unique to her because she’s so proud about it! I’ve worked with her for 14 years, and she’s been with the company over 30 years and she knows exactly how she is and does nothing to change. She’s not going anywhere, so when she calls, and I answer the phone (there are 5 of us on the Service Desk, thank god), but have acquired the ability to shut off my brain to her bombastic ways and keep myself neutral. Not sure if I will leave before she does, but at least I know one of us will at some point…and I do, at times, like to play with her and *not* answer the phone when she calls…

  37. LQ*

    I was a trainer for a Ceresi. It was not my training, I was thrown into it under-prepared by a bunch of broken bones. I was annoyed and frustrated by the class and trying to manage everything at once. I assumed my annoyance with Ceresi was part of this same pot of annoyance and that I needed to suck it up. Until someone wrote on their daily evaluation that it was hard to follow the material when it was constantly being interrupted by tangents.
    Two things happened immediately after I got that eval. 1. I was incredibly relieved that it wasn’t just me and I could start to manage it as it happened because I wasn’t being unreasonable, she really was that bad. 2. I went and immediately talked to her (new) boss and grandboss. She did not make it through the full training (though ours is more like 6 weeks which includes a lot of task training and work).

    (Our Ceresi was like 25, so some of them haven’t been alive as long as yours was in the industry, they come in all flavors.)

  38. Switch Wisher*

    I had a Cersei at my teapots insurance training, a couple of them actually. In addition, the longer the interruptions, the later the training day would last and the less time we trainees had to explore the city each night. After two days of wanting to kill them, I decided I had to make a game of it instead. I dedicated a page of my notepad to tallying each interruption to see who would win. Probably not kind, but IMMENSELY more enjoyable, and probably healthier, than getting mad at the lot of them.

    1. Windchime*

      A coworker and I actually got caught doing this at a training we attended together. There was a woman who had a little related experience to what was being taught in the class, and she would ask questions that started with, “Isn’t it true that [restating what the instructor literally just got done saying]?” She would ask it in a challenging manner. Coworker and I kept tallies of “Comment phrased as a question”, “Actual question”, and “Interruption”. The instructor saw it and kind of laughed about it, and then said that these kinds of students are tough to deal with because they are hard to control, and there is the added bonus of getting bad evaluation forms from the rest of the class.

  39. Ruth*

    A fun thing to do is to keep a tick record of different things:

    1. Well Actually
    2. When I….
    3. What you should have done there is…


    We had an architect who said “Lift and Shift” nearly 100 times. When you’re about to lose your damn mind, all you can do is be silly with it.

    1. NW Mossy*

      You could also (mentally – not out loud!) try the method that reality TV sound artists use sometimes where they introduce a little “ding!” sound each time a contestant does a particular thing/uses a particular phrase. The current run of US Big Brother is using it to great comedic effect.

  40. Leela*

    We had our own Cersei when I was in college. Classes were derailed because he had to interrupt with irrelevant information that really only got across “look what i know! look what I can do! I’m the greatest!” He lost all good will with every one of us because he’d pop in out of nowhere and critique what we were doing when he really had no standing to do so (even though your Cersei has been in the industry longer it doesn’t seem like she’s absorbed the wisdom that would make her qualified to be critiquing, exposure to information is worthless if you don’t absorb and learn from it), and none of the teachers could stand him, even prompting one of the teachers to melt down in class about it and several others to audibly sigh and give a pained face whenever our Cersei raised his hand in response to any question. Eventually our Cersei stopped raising his hand and just started talking because teachers wouldn’t call on him anymore.

    He ended up dropping out of the program because of “bullying” (meaning none of us wanted to work with him on the final project because of his behavior for the rest of the year). I can only hope a similar thing happens with your Cersei but if she truly is there for life, take some solace in the fact that there’s no way you’re alone in the way you feel, and any competent manager would see this kind of bragging as a huge red flag in the interview process/trial period, and any competent manager would reign this in. Of course not every manager is competent and a lot of them will wuss out and just let Cersei do whatever, but at the very least even those managers will typically know that Cersei is the problem. Whatever the case, I hope that after these 10 days you never see her again but hear self-affirming legends down the line.

  41. Astrid*

    When the discussion goes off the rails, I’ve politely raised my hand and suggested that perhaps the person with the highly-personalized issue can address it privately after the session is over so we can focus on topics that affect the entire group. It works like a charm.

  42. Archaeopteryx*

    OP, please write in with an update on how long she ends up lasting! All of us with Cerseis of our own will give a contented sigh.

    1. OP*

      I’m already planning my update for when I’m finished the course. I sent the email Wednesday, and there have been some developments.

        1. OP*

          One of the developments includes me walking into the room the day after sending the letter, seeing our spots had been mixed around to change things up, seeing my nameplate next to Cersei’s, literally muttering “Oh Hell No”, turning on the ball of my foot, and marching up to the instructor to tell them to change it.

  43. Lynn Marie*

    If, heaven forbid, you end up in another one-on-one exercise with her, sit back, let her talk, say nothing. If she asks you a direct question, just smile a little smile and look at her questioningly. It will unnerve her, she will start blabbering again, rinse, repeat.
    And remember, in life, there is no rule that you are required to answer every question some idiot asks you.

    1. KC without the sunshine band*

      Exactly what I came here to say. Make a discreet bingo card, assigning rewards for yourself to the different ways you can bingo. It’s always nice to turn a horrible time-sucking experience into a game where you always win.

  44. Just Saying...*

    I’ll be the different one here. As I read the Letter Writer’s narrative, I couldn’t believe how obsessed he/she seems to be with Cersie. Cersie has experience and is talking to other people, so obviously the Letter Writer is mistaken in thinking that no-one wants to hear her. The Presenter asks for questions (and I don’t get the impression that Letter Writer is responding) and Cersie answers. Big deal. If you can’t handle two weeks with someone who annoys you, maybe you are in the wrong job. I was in the military and had to handle 5 months of a senior talk down to me directly, belittle my work, and make my life crappy. I kept my head low, did my job, and then moved on.

    Letter Writer, my main advice to you is this: Relax. Pay attention to the material in the training and focus on yourself. Let Cersie focus on Cersie. You focus on you. And despite what you are thinking now, some of what you hear Cersie say may come back to guide you later in life (when you are in your mid-50s and having to start a new job).

        1. Just Saying...*

          No, I am not Cersei.

          But I am in my mid-50s and have worked with 20-somethings who come in and make all kinds of assumptions and disparaging remarks about my age and reading negativity on my part where there was none. Letter Writer sounds like he/she reads intentions instead of listening to the content.

          For what it’s worth, we don’t actually know if what Letter Writer wrote is true. It’s what he/she is feeling which a whole different thing.

          1. Snark*

            Well, for what it’s worth, I’m totally reading negativity on your part right now, so maybe work on the presentation?

    1. OP*

      Uh… no. What Cersei says is not of value because typically what Cersei says is “I’m amazing, better than the youngsters, I look down upon people bad with money, and I’ve had 30+ experience.” I do listen to the material. I’ve literally written 53 pages of notes (I number the pages in my notebook) because I’m new to finance and I don’t know stuff. There has literally been nothing of value that she’s told me. What the *other* students in class have said have been helpful.

    2. Close Bracket*

      > some of what you hear Cersie say may come back to guide you later in life (when you are in your mid-50s and having to start a new job).

      In the sense of what not to do?

    3. J.B.*

      If you’re gonna ask questions they should be valuable. “In my experience, x is helpful” is very different from “I have 30 years doing this and let me tell you x is the best thing ever. None of you could do x you have to prepare for ever”

    4. RVA Cat*

      My third-grade teacher always bragged that she’d been teaching for 30 years. Her idea of effective discipline was to goad the entire class into laughing at me.
      So yeah, things change.

    5. No*

      Just because you went through and survived this:
      ” I was in the military and had to handle 5 months of a senior talk down to me directly, belittle my work, and make my life crappy.”
      doesn’t mean that it is a good or acceptable way for people to behave in a workplace, nor does it mean everyone else should suck it up if they are dealing with something less troublesome than what you went through.

  45. ragazza*

    Our Cersei was so annoying that my boss actually complained to me about the way she spoke to HIM and asked me to talk to her about her behavior. Sure, make me her boss and give me a raise and I’ll be happy to do it.

  46. I edit everything*

    I live by that quote supposedly from Mark Twain: it’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    No one doubts Cersei is a fool.

  47. Akcipitrokulo*

    Kill two birds with one stone.

    When she starts up, imagine how you’d describe it to a future interviewer about “a time you dealt with a difficult colleague”.

    1. Argh!*

      That would only be if LW actually did something effective. Whining about it isn’t effective at all. And in this situation, LW is on the sidelines, not in a position to change the situation without becoming a bossyboots him/herself.

      1. OP*

        Agreed. I feel “I silently fumed in the corner, and wrote in to an advice blog” is not the answer they’re looking for.

  48. Noah*

    I agree with all the “enjoy the show” styled advice. Also: she is almost certainly not talking about you specifically when you think she is. And if she is, so what?

    1. OP*

      Well, I mean, I’m the only person under 30 in the class, so it’s reasonable to believe the “I’ve been in banking longer than some people here have been alive” comment is a reference to me.

  49. StellaBella*

    Agree with Alison totally, and with most all of the comments here – just sit back and watch. Don’t engage. I’ve just spent a year with one of these bombastic people in a Master programme – the year has ended and all of this bombast came back to bite this guy, in a few very serious ways. Unlike Cersei, tho – I think – he was more than difficult, was also racist and sexist, neither of which worked out well. I do wish you luck, OP and hope it goes well for you in your career.

  50. Debe*

    Cersei will most likely get fired. Some people interview great but suck in the actual job. Bet the guy or gal who hired her will freak out when she shows at the office after training. But I got a feeling they have already been informed about Cersei and her days are numbered. So like Alison said, just be nice and sit back and enjoy the show.

    1. Bea*

      People also act differently while interviewing. Then they get a job and unravel. This lady is somewhat senior in position being trained with entry level folks, so her snobbery went on full display. Instead of being on her best behavior talking to a hiring team she “respects”.

      1. Argh!*

        Her snobbery is likely not a permanent personality quality. She feels insecure and she’s acting out that insecurity. When she feels more secure and has actual deadlines she’ll settle down.

  51. Just Stoppin' By To Chat*

    Ya know what I wonder – since the OP mentioned that Cersei has been in the industry for over 30 years, maybe they are self-conscious about starting over at another company, or worried about future employment until retirement, etc., and are using every chance they get to show how they have so much experience. I can kind of empathize with someone that might felt like they are the “older” person in a room full of younger hires, and be scared about their tenure at the company, or about losing their job in their late 50s, etc. (just making an assumption about Cersei’s age) However, I would still find them EXTREMELY annoying, and would be frustrated with the training facilitator for not actually facilitating…but maybe looking at it from this perspective would help?

    1. Argh!*

      Absolutely. I was laid off from a good job and took a similar job for less pay that I was over-qualified for. I hope that the good ideas I brought from the “outside” outweighed any obnoxiousness.

      It’s incredible how many truly stupid things can become ossified in an organization that doesn’t have much of an infusion of newcomers with prior experience. If LW’s employer is open to change, Cersei could well make an excellent contribution. (If they’re resistant to change, they’ll make her suffer)

    2. Observer*

      It would be easier to be empathetic if she weren’t also being downright nasty. Her comments about people who “don’t budget” and are “financially irresponsible” are pretty inexcusable.

    3. Liz*

      Yes. Yes. Yes.

      I’ve worked with a lot of folks who are nearing the end of their careers, and whenever I see this sort of behavior, it seems to be rooted in insecurity and discomfort. I don’t love the advice to “enjoy the show,” as I think there is something for the OP to learn here: empathy. At some point, OP will be 30 years into a career and surrounded by whippersnappers who have more knowledge, work faster, are more educated, and who are earning as much or more with less experience. That will feel bad when it happens. Take a second to empathize with how crappy it must feel to have 30 years of experience discounted or not taken seriously by people who don’t care what you’ve seen, what you’ve done, the wild problems you had to solve, what it was like to literally observe the evolution of paper work to digital work… I mean, what a ride!

      Sure, the way Cersei is going about this is all wrong. She may even realize it’s the wrong way to get the recognition she clearly desires, but she can’t stop herself. Even if the trainer can’t manage to take control of the room to keep things on track, as a coworker, I would recommend that OP try to approach this with empathy. Catch Cersei in the break room or at lunch and ask, “hey, I keep hearing you say you have a lot of experience — maybe you can tell me some war stories sometime?” OP could probably learn some things from Cersei, and that conversation could open the door to giving Cersei some more direct feedback that her behaviors aren’t really doing her any favors. Cersei might always be annoying, but I think OP should consider where she’s coming from and why she might be behaving this way before dismissing her as just another cranky baby boomer who’s made the youngsters are moving in.

  52. ShwaMan*

    1. Don’t let “Cersei”s get you down. They are a common form of wildlife, unfortunately, and you’ll encounter them throughout your career. As said above, try to enjoy the trip to the zoo if you can.
    2. Detach from her – no more personal shares! (And maybe not with other colleagues, too.)
    3. Depending on the environment, a private chat with the instructor might be a good idea.
    4. I echo the suggestion of raising your hand enthusiastically (with hopefully a good question ready) when she is pontificating – maybe the instructor will interrupt and you can help get back on topic. Heck, even though I hate interrupting, if the instructor isn’t helping, I’d consider what I call “semi-interrupting” – cutting off in between sentences, if not mid-sentence. “I have a question about the subject matter…”
    5. When training is done, stay clear. If you have occasion to need to deal with Cersei, be professional, and brief as possible. If she tries to suck you into an unnecessary conversation, be ready with “Sorry, I’m in a hurry. Thanks, bye!” or whatever.
    6. While I wouldn’t make a point to check up on Cersei over time, if you should learn later that she is unchanged, has improved, or got fired, that may be a useful datapoint about the quality of the organization / management.
    I remember a male “Cersei” in my training class when I started with my company many years ago. The instructor handled him pretty well, but he *still* wouldn’t shut up. They gave us a test after a couple weeks to see how we were doing on the material, which wasn’t designed to be very challenging, nor even intended to be a “make-or-break” exam. Nonetheless dude Cersei was swiftly fired right after. I was delighted, and it really raised my confidence I was with the right company.

    1. Argh!*

      It’s hard to listen to the teacher when the teacher’s time is just time for planning your next interruption!

  53. mark132*

    I’ve had coworkers who are roughly the same age as my experience, and I’ll look at some of their crazy CSS/javascript skills, and get them to show me some of it. I’m not too old to be schooled. So I don’t understand this attitude.

  54. A trainer*

    Don’t forget that you, too, are being observed and building a reputation in your new company. Be professional. Don’t play bingo or roll eyes. Observe others while she’s doing her thing. And don’t gossip about her behavior with others. Your reactions to someone like this can damage you in the eyes of others, too.

  55. Argh!*

    Ceresi isn’t the problem here. She’s just being who she is. The facilitator is the problem if the training isn’t marching along at the specified pace.

    If being annoyed gives LW some sense of satisfaction, that’s the direction for the focus and maybe even an eyeroll or glance at the watch. Even better — talk to the trainer about the time issue and ask if everything will be covered.

    But if a five-minute delay will get under your skin, you can expect to be a Seinfeld character unless you get over it.

    And if being around braggarts is hard for you, I have some bad news for you. It’s a “type.” Cersie is not a one-of-a-kind character. I work with a narcissistic braggart who wants to run the IT department even though he doesn’t have an IT job. He has some experience in IT, but he’s not the brilliant mastermind he thinks he is, and he has no clue about the constraints that our interlocking systems demand. Gradually he has become more engaged with the job he actually has, so we all hear less of his bragging.

    We were patient with him, because smart people in new situations can be more anxious than stupid people in the same situation. If you go through life being the smartest person in the room (or one of them) and then suddenly you’re a beginner, it can be difficult for them. Stupid people are never the smartest person in the room, so they don’t lose much when they move to a new job.

    Now, if she ran on and on about her kids and relived every difficult childbirth she’s had every time someone mentions children, that would be grounds for a ragequit.

    1. Mark132*

      Even if the trainer could handle the situation better, that doesn’t make Cersei’s behavior not a problem or acceptable.

  56. SadieMae*

    My grandfather (the kindest man I’ve known) told me once that when someone was acting annoying or hurtful to me, it would help to imagine why. He said people usually act this way when they’re trying to fill a need in their lives. For Cersei, I’m guessing she’s extremely insecure, especially when it comes to younger hires who she may feel will make her seem out-of-date, and she feels she needs to push down on other people to stay afloat.

    Obviously if she begins really harassing you or her behavior affects your job, you may want to take action, but at this point it may help to remember Cersei is (however cruelly or clumsily) trying to fill a need that she has, whatever that might be. If you can empathize with that, you can see her actions as pitiable – which they are – and realize they have to do with her insecurities and have nothing to do with you. Then, instead of feeling enmeshed with her and letting her bad vibes affect you, you can maybe picture yourself outside looking in and let Cersei be who she’s going to be.

    This is tough stuff, I know. Good luck, and congratulations on your new career!

  57. Cat Owner*

    I had to look up the meaning of “bombastic” because I was only familiar with it in the context of the Shaggy song.

  58. Not So NewReader*

    OP, consider Cersei your What Not To Do Guide. She has absolutely mastered everything a professional should NOT do. And it will carry her… to the unemployment line.

    If humor is not helping you, OP, then consider this: She is probably this way with friends and family. I have a family member like this. I can tell you first hand that it works into a quality of life issue as no one wants to be around the person. You know, friends/family fill in our gaps for us. I was visiting a family member who commented their cruise control quit. We said check your tail lights. We had put a new bulb in and the cruise came back. Now the Cerseis of the world will pay a few bucks for that advice because people either won’t tell them OR there is no one around to tell them. This is a very simple example involving an unnecessary automotive repair bill. This story line gets worse as they are out of the loop from all the little tidbits of information people share with each other. Family member Cersei was appalled to find out insurance companies do not pay for a new car if yours is total. Even after the explanation of book value, the disbelief was steadfast. It was a long road for them. And so unnecessary to struggle so hard.

    One thing I have done to help myself along, is to pretend the boss is watching my reaction every step of the way. In some situations it worked out that the boss WAS watching my reaction and I got cheers for staying put together while Cersei got lectured.

  59. First time poster*

    First time poster here. Years ago I was at a mandatory training for a government social work position. We had to take graduate level courses for about 2 months. There were basically 2 groups. Group 1 was those of us that were at least somewhat experienced. Group 2 were fresh out of college and had taken special course specific to the job “to prepare them.” Of group 2 there were a those who thought they “know it all, so why are we here,” and a the rational few that people don’t fit into book sceneries and some experience means something. No matter the experience or education, everyone had to take these classes. My experience was from another state, so I had to essentially relearn policies as state laws vary significantly.
    Anyway the know it all recent graduates, would monopolize the training, despite being asked to reign it in, multiple times. Finally a group of us bought coloring books and crayons to occupy ourselves when the group would derail the training. The trainers looked at our table, shook their heads and smiled when they saw the coloring books. FWIW each table was supplied with random gadgets to fidget and highlighters so the crayons weren’t completely out of place. 2 of the know it all were let go before the end of training, and 1 was made to repeat it because they couldn’t pass the test. It was actually a pretty big deal to be fired, because that group had some of their college tuition paid, including the extra prepatory classes. If they got fired they had to repay the tuition immediately.
    My point, both the experienced and recent grads can benefit from training, that’s why many fields require ongoing training. It be interesting to know if employees of OP’S company have to taken refresher or if Ms. Been there Done That, was specifically sent because she wasn’t following procedure.
    OP, bring something entertaining, but quitely unassuming to keep your self busy when she drones on and on. You might only be able to doodle on a piece of paper, but it can be therapeutic. One other thing. Karma does come back around.Good luck.

  60. Glen Garry*

    OP, one bit of advice I’d give is that no matter how exasperating Cersei’s behavior is, avoid the temptation to talk about it with other participants.

    It can be very tempting to bond over this experience and get validation from others who are experiencing it, but it’s best for you if you can just shrug it off. If you and your colleagues start grousing about her it can become a self-sustaining negativity spiral, and participating in something like that can have negative consequences for your work relationships and reputation.

    I’ve been in similar situations where people start getting really negative about the perpetrator, and while they are not wrong about what they’re experiencing, their negativity makes the whole environment more toxic than it was to begin with.

    If other participants bring up Cersei’s crappy behavior and want you to participate in a gripe session, just shrug and evade. Statements like “I try not to focus on things like that. What did you think of what the presenter was saying?” or “Well, everyone’s got problems. Did you try the lasagna at lunch?” are good to have on hand. Future you will thank you for staying out of the muck if anyone tries to tempt you into it.

  61. AnthonyPeye*

    I was hired after a subordinate clued him into the fact that I wasn’t working at the time. I wasn’t actively looking. Manager texted me and offered me a job. After psychduo interview, was hired. Basically no training, toxic work environment (unreal) . I knew within a week that this job wasn’t a good fit. Cliques, gossipy, toxic g… I was disillusioned. Brought up my concerns with manager during a rare private moment (you have no idea, impossible to speak privately) Some coworker are like vultures. One in particular has identified manager’s weaknesses and has “gone in for the kill”
    The manager is hard working, dedicated, and good hearted. No idea that he’s being bamboozeled. I’m trying to help but “vulture” has become a gatekeeper. No HR. Thanks6

  62. Stephanie*

    Oh man, I hope the letter writer comes back in a couple months and tells how things are going, and if Cersei is still there.

    I’d be right there with LW in being annoyed at having my training screwed up by someone else who thinks they’re important. Eventually I’d try and watch the show, but I’d be so annoyed for a while.

  63. Snickerdoodle*

    OP, I guarantee you everybody else hates Cersei as much as you do. I’ve seen that happen many, many times: One person detests somebody annoying, creepy, etc. and doesn’t want to say anything for fear of looking a drama queen, and then somebody else (frequently me . . . ) finally just blurts out how much so-and-so annoys them, and that opens the floodgates for everyone to say “I thought it was just me! GAWD he’s annoying.”

    Also, people like that tend to be self-sabotaging eventually. All you can do is sit back and watch. Don’t let her get to you. As somebody else said, don’t give her anything to work with. And don’t gripe about her if possible, because that will feed it and make you look bad. She’s the only one who should look bad in this situation, and she’s doing a great job of that all by herself.

  64. Kms1025*

    Honestly laughed out loud at “pretend you’re at the circus”! She’s a train wreck. It’s awful to see but will be a bad memory before too long. Just try to amuse yourself as if it’s an episode of The Office or a training program on how NOT to behave at work (or anywhere else for that matter).

  65. OP*

    Promise to send in an update at the end of the course. There have been some developments (including a part where I literally uttered the phrase “oh hell no”) but I’m going to see how the whole thing plays out. Until then, I’m going to take Alison’s advice and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

    1. Khlovia*

      This. In part because you are the junior at the training, and in part because you are a human being at the training, what you want the other participants to be thinking of you (if they think of you at all) after it’s all over is, “OP certainly handled that situation with class and dignity,” not, “How foolish of OP to bash her head against that brick wall.” You’ve already indicated on the evaluation form that you’re having an Issue with Cersei; that is the most you can, or should, do.

      Avoid. Ignore. Rise above. Maintain an even strain. Take notes. Network.

  66. Lucille2*

    Think of it this way….Cersei is another facet of training you didn’t expect. How not to behave like a professional. Just imagine in future work scenarios, what would Cersei do? And do the opposite.

  67. Sansa*

    My boss is 100% a Cersei. Something that I’ve learned working with her is that her personality is largely the result of her waning influence and power over the past 35 years, and her not having anything else in her life outside of work. She’s very much impossible to work with and because of that, she’s been demoted. But she still insists on her relevance to anyone that will listen.

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