why does my coworker hate me?

A reader writes:

I am a brand new graduate who started at a consulting firm last January. I’ve been there for about a year, and I have positive relationships with my coworkers. I am fairly quiet at work because I’m new, I am still learning from my colleagues and assessing the work environment. My coworkers have made it clear that they appreciate my work — I was voted Employee of the Quarter and given a raise within a year of working there!

However, I can’t get a read on a peer that I work directly with on my team. My peer is the same title as me and about the same age as me, and from the day that I started, she’s been cold and passive aggressive to me while being friendly to everyone else. At first, this didn’t bother me because I figured that this would change over time as she got to know me. A year later, nothing has changed, and I find her behavior to border on unprofessional. If I make a mistake at work (no matter how minor), she’s quick to point it out in a way that makes me feel bad. If I don’t do something the exact way that she would do it (but not necessarily wrong — just different), she criticizes me. In meetings, she shuts down my ideas. Her tone in her emails and messages to me are rude. If I try to make small talk with her, she gives me one-word answers. A few months ago, she sent me a job posting online under the guise that “maybe I have friends that want to apply,” but she has no affiliation with the company that was advertising the position, so I know that it was an attempt to get me to leave.

I am stumped as to why she dislikes me so much. At first, I wondered if it was because she saw me as a poor performer, but I asked her for feedback once and she told me that I am good at my job. Despite this, her behavior towards me is unfriendly. I don’t feel comfortable calling her behavior out because it’s covert, and I am afraid to tell my boss because she LOVES her.

Why would she dislike me for seemingly no reason? Is there a way to address this without rocking the boat? Additionally, how can I prevent her attitude from bothering me? It hurts because she is the only other person in my office who is around my age, and her behavior towards me has undermined my confidence/morale. Even though she’s unfriendly, I have a lot respect for her work and want to learn more from her. Help!

There are so many possibilities for what might be going on: Your voice or your appearance or your general vibe could remind her of someone she hates. She might have wanted the job you got, or some of the projects you’ve been assigned. She could be threatened by your background and qualifications, or even just the way your manager has talked about you. It could be because you’re the same age — if she was used to being the “smart young person” around the office, she could resent having you take some of that spotlight away from her. (If I had to bet, my money’s on this one.) You might have a personality trait that she can’t stand (we all annoy someone). She might have been affronted by some innocuous remark you made early on. There’s no knowing — but there are a ton of possibilities that could have very little to do with you.

Since she’s not just being a little standoffish but is being rude, I’m pretty confident that whatever is going on, it’s more about her than about you.

As for what you should do about it … well, one option is to do nothing. Try as much as you can not to dwell on her behavior, focus on doing a good job, and focus on the positive feedback you’re getting from other sources. When she sends you rudely worded messages, internally roll your eyes and be glad you’re not going through life saddled with whatever issue is making her behave this way.

I know that’s more easily said than done, and there are other options if you want to try them.

Would you be up for talking to her about what you’re seeing? There’s no guarantee that it’ll help, and it risks making things worse. But if you want to, after the next time she’s particularly rude, you could talk to her privately and say, “I want us to have a good working relationship, and I’m wondering if I’ve done something to upset you? If there’s something I did that stepped on your toes or bothered you in some way, I’d be grateful to know so I can handle it differently.”

Who knows, maybe she’ll tell you what’s going on. But it’s pretty likely she’ll tell you no, there’s nothing. She might act confused or surprised, as if it’s all in your head and she has no idea why you could possibly think that. But that won’t necessarily mean the conversation failed — it’s possible that by flagging that she’s coming across as if she has a problem with you, she’ll rein herself in. She might not realize how much she’s showing it, or might not have expected you’d call her out on it and might regulate herself more after you do.

Some people would recommend the “kill her with kindness” approach, and that’s an option too. You mentioned that you respect her work so I’m curious what would happen if you gave her some genuine, specific praise of her work a few times. Obviously you don’t want to feel like you’re sucking up to someone who’s been unkind to you, but if there are times when you genuinely admire her work (and it sounds like there are), it would be interesting to see if sharing that with her pays any dividends. If she feels threatened by you, it might thaw the chill a little. Or not! But there’s never anything wrong with giving sincere, non-condescending praise to a colleague and, if nothing else, seeing how she responds will give you more data.

Ultimately, though, I think we all have to make our peace with the fact that some people won’t like us. It’s a problem that she’s showing that to you, but it sounds like she sticks close enough to the line that there’s nothing actionable about it besides trying the tactics above … so if you try those and they don’t work, then I think you’ve got to go back to trying to shrug it off and figuring it’s something about her, not you. But if her actions ever do become more of an issue — if she’s openly hostile to you or not giving you the info you need to do your job — at that point it would make sense to talk to your manager about it.

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. Clefairy*

    I had a coworker that really just clashed with my personality- I thought my dislike wasn’t apparent until another coworker I’m close to pulled me aside and said I was treating her differently than my peers, and I had to completely adjust my approach- and I ended up actually liking her quite a bit! It really could just be something as innocuous as her finding you annoying or irritating. I think speaking to her directly is a great idea, because when my coworker told me how my actions were being perceived, I was mortified and worked really hard to change, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise.

    1. Beth*

      Sincere question – do you think it would have been worthwhile for the colleague you disliked to have said something? Maybe the message was impactful because of what your friend said.
      I worry this advice could make OP’s colleague find her even more annoying.

      1. Lacey*

        That’s my thought as well. I had a similar situation in college. A classmate drove me NUTS and I guess it was fairly clear to everyone around me, because a couple friends called me out on it one day and I changed my behavior.

        If she had done it I would have told her I didn’t know what she was talking about and I would have disliked her more than ever.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          The flip side is I directly approached two colleagues who were very obviously making fun of me in a meeting, although I’m sure they thought they were being sneaky.

          Of course they denied it but the behavior stopped and they are now polite.

          Do they magically like me? Probably not and I don’t actually care. They don’t have to like me. They do however need to be polite and professional at work.

          Most people are fully aware when they are being crappy to other people.

          People have every right to be treated with respect and to address it. I can think of a few word for people who would be called out on their behavior and then be even bigger jerks and none of them are nice.

          1. Random Dice*

            “People have every right to be treated with respect”

            Exactly. You deserve to be treated politely work.

            OP should call it out when she is rude, you can do it politely. When she does something rude in front of others, give a small surprised “whoa” reaction.

            It’s been a year of killing-with-kindness this threatened aggressive jerk. You get to call her out directly.

          2. Tupac Coachella*

            Exactly. In my personal life, I am very much someone who if I don’t care for you, you probably know it. I don’t care. At work, I care a LOT if you know it. It’s literally part of my job to be friendly and approachable. Not just to people I like. Not just to the people who are pleasant back. To everyone. I can be direct, even firm, at work, but I can NOT be rude, and would be mortified if I found out I’d come across that way, even if it was to someone who I personally thought was awful.

            (To be clear, I’m not mean or aggressive to people I don’t care for, I’m just noticeably chilly. In fact, one of the easiest ways to tell you’re not my favorite is that I avoid making little jabs at you. When you do it to friends it’s fun, but when you do it to people you don’t like, it’s mean.)

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              I’m the same way about the joking. I try to hold myself to a high standard with making sure that I’m not making passive aggressive jokes. If I tease someone gently about something, that means I’m not upset about it and feel good about the relationship.

            2. Beka Rosselin-Metadi*

              This reminds me of a former boss-I told him once I knew he liked me because he was a little mean to me (not badly, just little jabs that I laughed at and gave back to him and he laughed). He looked surprised and then laughed and admitted I was right.
              Which is why when a colleague told me that she thought he liked her because he was being nice to her, I wondered if she was long for the company. Newsflash: she was not.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          When I was new to my job, I was frequently told to ask Aconite for help. Whenever I would do so, she would send me a one-line email message that I should ask someone else.

          It finally bothered me enough that I took a page from AAM and wrote her an email describing what I was being told to do from my boss and how I was interpreting her emails (with the acknowledgement that tone is hard to read from emails).

          Minutes later, Aconite called to thank me for letting her know; she’d been having a stressful couple of weeks and hadn’t realized her tone was getting so brusque. She had even gone back over some of her recent emails and noticed that her tone had escalated some interactions with coworkers from neutral to antagonistic.

          Sometimes bringing it up directly with the coworker works!

        3. Kella*

          Yeah, I second the idea that if OP has another coworker they trust who has noticed the difference in treatment who could have that conversation with the rude coworker first, that might go over better. I don’t think it would be wrong for OP to attempt the conversation on their own though.

          I had a coworker who I didn’t dislike but for some reason we kept clashing and that started to *turn into* a mutual dislike for each other. After watching this unfold, another one of my coworkers pointed out that both of us tended to be guarded with new people *and* tended to distrust other guarded people. He recommended I try letting my guard down and being intentionally kind to her. I think he had the same conversation with her.

          This exactly did the trick and she has since become a big supporter of my freelance work and activism and 10+ years later we’re still friends on facebook.

          1. Revelation reveals itself*

            Thank you for writing this, Kella. I see me and another coworker in this exchange. I doubt we’ll ever be friends (and that’s OK), but I’m going to see if I can close the gap a little bit.

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        That’s on OPs colleague then, not OP.

        No one can control any other persons response to them. That doesn’t mean we should not address things or stick up for ourselves.

        The colleague can think OP is the most annoying person to ever breathe but she can’t be crapping on her in meetings or making mountains out of op’s errors.

        1. Roland*

          Well, OP’s goal might be “get the behavior to stop”, not “have the moral upper hand”. It’s her call, and worth pointing out that if her goal is “get the behavior to stop”, this may or may not exacerbate the situation. Which to be fair, Alison notes as well.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            This has nothing to do with moral higher ground and everything to do with stopping the behavior.

            Telling someone to not address something because the person behaving badly might like them even less is not a good tactic in almost all situations.

      3. Clefairy*

        That’s a good question and a fair point. I think it would have depending on the approach- if they had said something like “Hey, I noticed you’re frostier with me than others- is there anything I’ve done/could change?” I would have been receptive. But if they had been overly dramatic and approached it more as a “Why don’t you like meeeeee” that would have been annoying. But I’m me, not the OP’s peer, so who knows. It’s entirely possible it could implode in her face.

        1. Anon for this one*

          Have been in this situation twice with two colleagues – we’ll call them Amanda and Beth. Both situations were related to something they were doing at work which was creating a serious time zap for me (think hours of extra work created).

          In Amanda’s case, she pulled me to one side, mentioned she’d noticed I’d been in a bad mood recently, pointed out it was making her uncomfortable and asked me if it was something she’d done. I was MORTIFIED – I thought I was being fairly neutral so to hear I was coming across as so unfriendly I’d upset somebody gave me serious pause. I also told her what was annoying me (which – because I was fairly young – it hadn’t dawned on me that I could just, you know, point out that she was doing something which was having a negative impact on my work and ask her to stop). I felt like she actually listened – unfortunately, she didn’t manage to stop doing thing which was annoying me but I felt like she put the effort in, I eventually learnt tricks to manage her so thing she was doing didn’t have so great an impact on me, and I was able to reframe it from “thing Amanda does because she’s a terrible colleague who doesn’t care about my time” to “thing which is a weakness of Amanda’s and I shouldn’t take personally”.

          Fast forward a few years, Amanda and I have parted ways, and I’m working with Beth. Now, the difference here was I had pointed out the thing which was causing problems, explained to her why it had a negative impact on me and the rest of the team and asked her to stop. Repeatedly. To which she eventually came back and told me that I was too harsh on her, all I did was criticise her unfairly and I needed to back off. From Beth’s perspective, I think at this point she thought I took her feedback and backed off. What actually happened was I had enough capital to essentially turn around to her manager and go “not dealing with this – your problem now” (in politer terms, of course!) and cut back on my interactions with her. So, if Beth’s goal was to make me back off then goal achieved, but I think it would have been more ideal if we’d been able to foster a better working relationship. And in hindsight? I probably should have done more to acknowledge I’d upset her and taken that on board – it’s been years since this happened but I still regret that.

          I’m not excusing my behaviour in Beth’s situation but I think what probably made the difference is that with Amanda it felt more collegiate (as in, “there’s clearly a problem here so let’s figure it out together”) whereas with Beth it felt more adversarial (as in, “this isn’t my fault – it’s yours and you need to change the way you behave”).

          So that might be helpful to OP. But also I think I would have been receptive in Beth’s case if somebody else had said “I know Beth’s making work hard but also your approach to this isn’t really working and I think you need tone it down and ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to limit the impact of what she’s doing”, so perhaps approaching a trusted third CW or a manager to ask them if they see what you’re seeing is another way to go?

    2. Artemesia*

      Good point. I had a friend call me out on the way I was treating one of our circle — I really didn’t see it without her pointing it out — but it did cause me to mend my ways and reflect on what I was doing. I still remember what she said — and it was sort of an all purpose warning that has come in handy in the decades since. Alas the OP’s peer has not had that service done for her.

      I’d probably ask if I had done something to make her work more difficult that I could change and see what happens. Done in a. puzzled and conciliatory tone not as a reproach.

  2. Thistle Pie*

    I agree with Allison that the most likely scenario is that she feel threatened by having to share her position as “the young, savvy employee”, especially since it sounds like LW is performing really well. That might change over time as she gets used to it (thought I would hope a year in would be enough time) or as other young people are hired. This aligns with the snarkiness about not doing things her way even if they aren’t objectively wrong.

    As much as I hate bonding over negativity, I wonder if there is benign thing that LW can find to commiserate about with their coworker. I’ve found that sometimes that’s the easiest way to connect with someone who is hesitant to connect to.

    1. Lacey*

      Yeah, that was my gut reaction as well. She likes to be the young smart one and is afraid you’re taking that from her.

      1. Random Dice*

        Agreed totally. Poor OP is searching her conscience for how she failed, but the problem is that she’s too good and too smart and people respect her.

    2. Space Lasers*

      Yeah I agree this is the most likely explanation. Bonding over something negative might help. When I was in a similar situation, the closest my nemesis and I ever got was when our friendly male receptionst inched over the line from friendly to creepy and she rescued me from a very awkward interaction. Unfortunately this was several months into my tenure there and there was likely too much negative water under the bridge for us to ever be friendly. Thinking back on when I was in that situation, I’m pretty confident that if I’d ever tried to have a frank conversation with her about her attitude towards me, she would have denied it, increased her eye rolling about me to her office BFF, and then possibly have complained about me to a superior. There’s no way that would have gone well for me.

      1. amcb13*

        As someone who’s been on the other side of one of those frank conversations–there are a lot of variables that can really affect things. A colleague once sat me down after several years of working together and basically just said, “Hey, you are being unkind to me, and I want to know why; it bums me out.” On my end, it was a combination of: I didn’t realize how visible it was that I was sometimes frustrated with her, I felt like we had been pitted against each other professionally, and we had really different styles of interacting that led us both to misread each other sometimes. I really, really appreciated her just going for it and initiating a difficult conversation; we were able to talk through our stuff and she was one of my favorite colleagues from that point on.

        I’m certainly not saying that will always happen or that that will happen for the LW; I just don’t want them to rule it out.

        1. Random Dice*

          I had a hard conversation like that with a colleague. We both hadn’t been aware of how the other was taking things that we thought were innocuous. It really helped.

          1. Artemesia*

            It can also involve facial expressions; I know that what I think I am expressing is not always what it perceived, especially as I age. I remember overhearing a woman in a store say something about me to her companion — how I had just ‘looked at her terrible’ — my expression was I thought a friendly ‘no problem’ smile when we had almost collided.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          This worked for me too. It turned out my coworker was having a really bad week and hadn’t realized they’d gotten snippy.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      I absolutely would bet money that she feels competitive with LW because they are of similar age and position.

      This goes double or triple if LW also has some quality or qualification that makes the coworker feel like LW is “winning,” like:

      *LW attended a more competitive / bigger-name college

      *LW has an advanced degree that Coworker does not have

      *LW seems to have a more privileged background (does LW have a very visible prestige-label car or handbag or pair of shoes or similar? Did LW blithely name-drop an exclusive boarding school or country club or event or vacation location or sorority*? (*LW reads female to me, but I have no proof, so edit as you see fit)

      *LW has some attractive physical feature Coworker envies (my sister has always been jealous of people who can grow long thick heads of hair)

      *LW is engaged and Coworker is annoyed to be single

      *or even just that LW seems at ease and Coworker is much more anxious or has to work harder to feel comfortable at work

      Any of these — or a combination — could be happening and any of these could be something where LW thinks nothing of it, but Coworker is seething about it.

      (…or, new thought, is it clear that LW and Coworker voted for different presidential candidates in 2016 and / or 2020?)

      1. IDIC believer*

        This is my take. And once I’ve examined my behavior to be confident I’m not partially responsible, I’ve learned to accept, avoid, and/or leave. You can’t fix someone else’s insecurity or nastiness.

        I had a supervisor who felt threatened by anyone with superior experience and skills. She told me she knew I wanted her job; this was despite me clearly stating I just wanted to enjoy being a single contributor and hated supervising. She was nasty, rude and inappropriate with others but I think recognized I wouldn’t tolerate being bullied and knew my rights & options as a state employee.

        I still bent over backwards to accommodate her unwarranted fears. I even went so far as to ask our director to not praise my work in other’s presence. By his look when I said this, I knew he totally understood (he had worked with her for 15+ years). This helped, but she continued to be passive-aggressive, surly, etc with me until I promoted out (another single role).

      2. Just Another Cog*

        I, too, think it could be one or all of the above. I had a co-worker who treated me like this and like OP, also watched me like a hawk for any errors I made so she could call them out. I eventually became her boss, which made her act out even worse. She WAS the superstar before I started and struggled in her personal life. I think she was annoyed that my personal life was great and that I’d moved up professionally. My biggest problem with her was that she was so blatant in her disrespect and I could do nothing about it. Higher ups would not discipline her or let me do so when I was made her boss. I tried to talk to her about her dislike of me several times and she would act surprised and deny that she had anything other than warm feelings toward me. She would be kind for a short time, then revert back to the hatefulness. OP, this is all about her. I’m sorry people can be such jerks.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I agree this is all her. A person who goes around being jealous of random things like hair, or perceived attractiveness, or schools or accessories, is the one causing the problem.
          I wish someone had been around to explain this to me when I was young. It seemed like everywhere I went there was someone who instantly hated me and tried to hurt and cause me trouble. When I had done nothing to them and was just trying to make a living.
          After many years of wondering how to cope with this, I realized the problem wasn’t with me, it was their perceptions. They thought I was prettier than them, or had a better life than them, or better skills, or whatever. And they were wrong.
          There is nothing worse than a person who lets their jealousy and aggression fly unchecked without caring what it does to the people around them. It’s their responsibility to manage themselves, and they don’t even try. It’s the ultimate in selfishness.

          1. Giant Kitty*

            “I realized the problem wasn’t with me, it was their perceptions. They thought I was prettier than them, or had a better life than them, or better skills, or whatever. And they were wrong.”


            I’ve had it happen too. Its almost always someone who is very unhappy with life, even while having lots of objective reasons not to be, having some kind of feels about me being mostly happy with life, even while having lots of objective reasons not to be. It’s not something I can help them with, it’s not like I haven’t had a very hard life, or gone through terrible experiences, or haven’t been seriously harmed by bad acting individuals, the random events of life in general, or what we can very broadly call The System. I am just, by both nature (literally brain structure, as I am hella ND) & nurture (growing up in a family stuffed full of neurodivergent eccentrics), programmed to process these negative occurrences in a very different way. It has both negative & positive repercussions on my life, but people tend to either overlook the negative aspects or view them as something I am doing on purpose for some sketchy reason they’ve made up in their heads.

    4. Tiger Snake*

      It may even be less that she likes the cloat and more that she feels threatened because the LW appears to be doing better or learning faster than she did. Imposter syndrome sometimes shines through, just now the way one expects.

      But really, we’ve no idea and all we’re doing is gossiping. I know there’s someone in the workplace I had quite like as a person and find she does great work, but when she talks her voice hits the perfect pitch-and-volume that it physically hurts me to hear.
      That’s not her fault, and I’ve never mentioned it because you can’t change your voice, but I have to try really hard to make sure I’m not treating her any different to anyone else because just -ow, I’m in pain.

  3. T.N.H.*

    I echo Alison’s call to do nothing outwardly but can you reframe it in your head? It seems that you may have this down as a problem (or a mystery) that needs to be solved. It doesn’t though. There will be others in your career who don’t like you and eventually people you don’t like too. We have to coexist at work but nothing more. If you can let that go, I bet you’ll stop being as bothered by it.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I actually agree with this. The OP doesn’t say their gender, but I’m going to guess female or female-presenting. I’ve been there, and some women are just really threatened by other women, even those who don’t realize they’re in competition.

      It’s annoying but you can reframe it as weirdly flattering. And it makes the coworker look bad, not the OP.

      1. Observer*

        ut I’m going to guess female or female-presenting. I’ve been there, and some women are just really threatened by other women, even those who don’t realize they’re in competition.

        Can we skip the sexist garbage? Especially since it doesn’t change anything and makes zero difference.

        It’s not like only women are threatened by women, and never by men, and men are never threatened by men.

        1. Random Dice*

          Nonsense. It’s a cycle I’ve seen play out too often to pretend it doesn’t exist.

          We’re all affected by bigotry, and we can all be acting out cultural bigotry BS. It takes time to disentangle that crap, and OP and her coworker sound young.

          I agree with Charlotte that the coworker would likely not have been this threatened by a man or nonbinary person.

          1. Meep*


            I often have to stop myself from wondering if my fellow woman is mean or just assertive because of tone and what is allowed. Men who get angry appear assertive. Women who get angry are just bitches. And we are trained to see each other as competition from a young age.

              1. bca*

                She’s obviously talking about how society socializes people to think, not saying women are actually bitches.

          2. T.N.H.*

            We have no indication that the OP is even a woman though. Sure, it could be sexism (or racism, homophobia, xenophobia etc) but OP mentions nothing of the sort so that has no basis in the actual letter and doesn’t change the advice (unless it rises the the level of harassment in which case OP should report to her manager).

        2. Meep*

          This is really gross of you to say.

          As a woman in a male-dominated field, I can safely say that ignoring it doesn’t go away. It is a HUGE problem where older women are often crueler to younger women rather than standing up to the actual sexist men, because of the sexism they dealt with.

          In general, women are often taught to look down on each other from a young age. Whether it is being too girlie or not girlie enough. It is easier to have us fight each other than stand up to the men who put these stereotypes into place. It is a bias that while sexist doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist because it IS sexist.

          Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t help. Only acknowledging our internal sexism.

          1. Observer*

            Oh good heavens. Talk about gross.

            There is nothing to indicate that the CW is being sexist. Unless you are claiming that the LW and her CW are the only two women on the team.

            And regardless, the only way the OP is going to make headway is to recognize that her CW is not going to be won over, and that her best bet it going to be to PROFESSIONALLY push back on things like being criticized for things that CW doesn’t like and having CW try to shut her down in meetings.

          2. andy*

            I am woman working in male dominated field, but genuinely, most of my cooperation with other women was quite easy. I agree that at least one was very much sexist, but her husband was even more sexist (and worked at same place), so. In my experience, non technical people are more adamantly sexist and often consider their sexism to be good social skill.

            But, my experience did not confirmed the “women tread other women bad” thing. I did had to deal with auto assumption that women hate each other. But then again, that was assumption a guy made about my relationship with my female colleague – who I actually liked a lot and was my friend.

            1. Me ... Just Me*

              Exactly. I work with virtually all women. People (not just women) are insecure, have “issues”, and take these things out on others. The men I’ve encountered at work exhibit these same (common to humans) tendencies.

        3. Seashell*

          It’s not sexist to say some women feel a particular way. It’s not saying “women are all (whatever negative thing).

          Personally, I thought LW was a woman, because fewer men care if they’re liked by everyone at work. My husband cares more about that kind of thing than I do, but I think he’s outside the norm.

    2. ferrina*

      Seconding this.

      At the end of the day, the why isn’t actually that important. You can’t solve her Why if she doesn’t want you to (and she clearly doesn’t). Focus on the impact of her actions. If the biggest impact is that she looks like a bit of a jerk when you are being your wonderful professional self, that’s definitely a reflection on her, not you.

      1. duinath*

        i agree! at a certain point, you’ve got to accept that some people just will not like you, no matter how great you are. their reasons are their own, and wouldn’t necessarily make sense to you even if they explained it.

        (a friend once introduced me to a friend of hers, and i later told my mother this friend of a friend didn’t like me. my mother said i couldn’t know that! and i said, that’s fair. i guess i’m the one who didn’t like her. mom laughed. things just happen like this sometimes.)

    3. Some Dude*

      To quote a sage, haters gonna hate. Be polite, respectful, professional, and focus on doing a good job. If her rudeness/dislike of you is impacting you in group settings (e.g. shutting down your ideas at meetings) that is worth pushing back on. Don’t be a doormat, but do remind yourself this is a Her problem not a You problem.

        1. Lenore*

          LW is being bullied according to definitions established many times here.

          But yeah, just shake it off, haters gonna hate, big whoop.

          Good grief…

    4. Anne Elliot*

      Thirding or fourthing this as not a problem that needs solving so much as reframing. Early in my career I similarly had a coworker who transparently did not like me. For a long time, I was like “but why tho?!? I’m likeable! People like me! I never did anything to her!!” Ultimately I realized – and this sounds simple but really changed my worldview – that sometimes people just don’t like each other. She was not required to like me; her regard (or lack thereof) only had power over me if I let it; and honestly, I didn’t like her either.

      The world is wide. There’s room for both of you in it. Give her the freedom to dislike you without you giving a care, so long as she’s professional towards and about you. And feel free to dislike her right back, under the same parameters, if you conclude, as I did, that the other person is really just not a very nice person.

      1. Random Dice*

        Right… but this coworker is actively trying to sabotage her.

        Personally, I’d try asking a coworker who likes gossip for advice about how to handle a peer who’s rude, without naming names, just like this letter. It’ll establish you as the professional one who’s trying to navigate someone who’s hostile, and pinpoint her as the problem. When folks know the deal, her sabotage attempts won’t land.

      2. Lenore*


        The letter isn’t a complaint about being disliked.

        And since when is bullying not a problem to be solved?

        It’s mind-boggling what the commenters have reduced the LW to. Absolutely stunning.

        1. Seashell*

          If bullying means “every behavior you don’t like”, then it ceases to mean much at all.

          I’m sure we’ve all the experience of two reasonable taking the tone of an email quite differently. If someone sends you what you interpret as a brusque sounding email, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bullying you. They may have typed quickly and not meant anything bad.

        2. Anne Elliot*

          WTAF, indeed. The letter is explicitly a complaint about being disliked: “Why does my coworker hate me?” “I am stumped as to why she dislikes me so much.” “Why would she dislike me for seemingly no reason?” Apparently I give the LW more credit than you do, but they seem fully articulate enough to name the behavior as bullying if that’s what they felt they were experiencing.

          It’s mind-boggling what the commenters have blown this letter into. Absolutely stunning.

    5. Observer*

      There will be others in your career who don’t like you and eventually people you don’t like too. We have to coexist at work but nothing more. If you can let that go, I bet you’ll stop being as bothered by it.

      This is totally on point. She’s not your supervisor so you don’t have to let her shut you down at meetings. But beyond that, leave it. It’s annoying, but it’s just part of life.

      1. Observer*

        I think I understated the issue – it’s more than “annoying”. But still probably not something you can do a lot about.

    6. Lulu*

      I have another hunch that might be unfair to OP, but here goes. If you’re too bothered by or invested in whether someone likes you, it can come across as cringey or “desperate.” It might seem like “Why don’t you like meeeeeee???” If that’s the case, then working on not being bothered by it (or not appearing to be bothered by it) might actually have the desired outcome. I know there have been some people that bother me, and it’s only made worse when they reaaallllly want to be my friend.

      And I might be totally off base. Forgive me if that’s the case.

      1. Lydia*

        She’s not worried about her coworker liking her; she’s worried her coworker is openly hostile to her ideas, shuts her down, and is otherwise rude in interactions.

      2. Observer*

        I’m with Lydia on this. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. It would be one thing if CW were just rude – not OK but *possibly* explained by this. But shutting her down in meetings? Trying to act like her supervisor and telling her off for mistakes she makes, and criticizing how she does her work? No.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I don’t think it is the case with the OP; she has stood patiently back and given the colleague time to get to know her, and I can’t imagine shutting someone down in meetings just because I think they want my approval . That said, it can be effective to appear somewhat dispassionate (if the level of this stuff makes this approach bearable). You put more focus on the behaviour of the rude person if you’re low key in comparison and often the behaviour of the rude person will see them hang themselves. I am curious how visible this behaviour is to the supervisor though.

    7. Smithy*

      I agree with this, because it can help focus on the things that are professionally problematic (being shut down in meetings) and dismiss other issues that are unpleasant but can be let go (not engaging in social conversation, sending you job postings).

      Depending on how the issues in meetings are going, you can simply focus on asking her directly how she’d prefer to receive feedback in meetings. It may be that she’s seeing those meetings as a read out as opposed to a brainstorming session and she’s not open to feedback? Or it may also be that being asked a question in that fashion will clarify her reactions or flag for her ways she should change. But basically stop looking for holistic feedback, and focus on very specific work issues as opposed to more personality based ones.

      I will also flag that while this person may just not like the OP, I’ve often found that sometimes when there’s conflict like this against peers – it can be about structural frustration that the Jr. person represents but isn’t responsible for. So there’s a former coworker who as a human, I have no issue with, but personally can’t stand because our team essentially set us up to incredibly competitive with one another. That dynamic wasn’t her fault, the fact that she made choices that gave her an interesting career and work opportunities makes sense! But the reality is that those choices severely negatively affected me and that should have been obvious to her.

      All of what happened is ultimately our leadership’s fault. And I hope she doesn’t think of me as someone who can’t stand her – but she might, because that dynamic of “I’m a professional who treats workers with respect however I don’t like you” can be messy.

  4. katiekatekate*

    Or, is she just not what you expect from women? She’s not cheery and bubbly, peppering her emails with exclamations points, and never in a bad mood? As someone who’s been targeted because she’s not Cheery Worker Barbie, think this over.

    1. Toast!*

      “she’s been cold and passive aggressive to me while being friendly to everyone else.”

      I think you might be reading a little too much of your own situation into the LW’s situation.

    2. Corrigan*

      I’ve been in the same boat as you so I get where you’re coming from. An old boss literally told me one day that someone complained “Corrigan isn’t as sunshiney as she could be” which a) yeah that’s not a word anyone would ever use to describe me and b) I’m shy.

      But I really don’t think that’s what’s happening here since the letter writer says she’s not like this with everyone else. Only her.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Yeah, people wouldn’t describe me as an overly positive personality, but I also am never rude to my coworkers. I try to be as approachable as possible — when someone has a question, I answer it as warmly as I can. Is it as warmly as Jane the Literal Ray of Sunshine? No, but I get good feedback that I was helpful and people refer others to me.

        1. Corrigan*

          I’m not sure I understand this comment. I’m also never rude to co-workers, nor was I back then.

              1. 2 Cents*

                Sorry, I was totally agreeing with you! And yes, it’s been a long *checks watch* month. We’re on our 3rd illness in 6 weeks, I have pink eye from said illnesses (thanks, dear child, for sneezing directly into my face), and work is ramping up when all I want to do is hide under the covers.

    3. Don't Forget to Mute The Zoom*

      There is a pretty big gap between someone who is not outwardly upbeat and someone who appears to be targeting one particular person. If it was the former, OPs coworker wouldn’t have positive interactions with anyone but that does not appear to be the case. Let’s not excuse poor social behavior at work by saying that anyone who displays it is automatically justified.

    4. Myrin*

      I swear, an OP can give details and carefully and clearly explain situations and yet there’ll be someone in the comments going “But what if you actually just made all that up?”.

        1. neeko*

          Alison also has specifically asked people not to do this on the “how to comment” page, but people still do it. :-/

        1. ThatGirl*

          Or “here you are, trying to figure out a solution to a problem, but have you considered that you’re Actually A Terrible Person”?

      1. Siege*

        The number of updates that call out the unhelpful comments of the commentariat (not the ones that turned out not to be relevant – we can’t advise on whether you should become a llama groomer without knowing you’re allergic to wool, so leaving that out is going to make the advice bad) is really high, and it would be great if people would take that as the message it is: the commentariat (myself sometimes included) needs to not just leap to the most horrible interpretation of their own issues and problems thinly disguised as the OP’s problem.

        1. Gerry Keay*

          yup, soooo much projection happening. and I get that’s kind of the appeal of advice columns, but man it makes it hard to have a productive conversation

      2. blergh*

        I love this website but over the past year I have found myself needing to close out of the comment section more and more because of how uncharitable the commenters are. I wish I could engage more, but it’s getting rough.

        1. Paris Geller*

          I completely agree. I’ve been reading both Alison’s advice & the comment section since 2016, and while there’s always been some of this, it has gotten SOOOO much worse in the past year!

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          Same. To quote Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

          The comment section is often a circular firing squad and its helpfulness to the letter writers is certainly questionable. I wonder if Alison has ever considered just not allowing comments on certain posts. To be sure, she has shut down comments on some posts when they get out of hand. Maybe she needs to do that more often, especially when there are questions about race or gender.

      3. different seudonym*

        It’s really obnoxious, but a good 30%+ of the time it’s because the cavillers lack reading skills. I’m completely serious, and I don’t mean it in the sense merely of “failing to pay attention and exercise critical thinking.” Plenty of people in this world, including those with professional jobs, straight-up miss a third or more of what they “read” on the first pass. That’s why the LWs are always calling the boss “Cersei” or whatever–too many people would get lost if they just wrote “my boss,” “she,” etc.

        Not that that makes the poor readers any less dickish; I just think it speaks to why the issue is so intractable.

      4. MEH Squared*

        It seems to be on the uptick, too, especially in the last few months. I mean, we all bring our own baggage into the comment section, but it feels as if more people are either not reading the actual letters or not willing to give the letter writers the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Myrin*

          I noticed that, too. I mean, it’s not a new phenomenon by any means – I started reading AAM in 2014 in definitely remember that there’s always been some of that, and actually recently re-read a thread from 2017 where Alison said “this is getting out of hand and I’ll moderate more tightly for a while” – but lately there seems to be an attitude like that in the comments to almost every letter/at least one letter every day and I find that quite concerning.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      She shuts OP’s ideas down in meetings. She sent OP a job opening to apply for?!?! That’s a bit different from my definition of “not cheery and bubbly”. Also there’s no indication in OP’s letter that Nemesis is not, in fact, a Cheery Worker Barbie – she’s friendly with everyone except OP, boss loves her etc.

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        Sending the job opening is a definite – “I don’t like you. Leave” message. If anything, I think our OP might be softening things. I think when she writes that her coworker is rude, I think the coworker is probably RUDE. I’d be hesitant to talk to my coworker, if I were OP. People who go so far as to send you job openings aren’t unaware of what their doing or how they come across. I’d document egregious examples, only call attention to things in a group setting, and be prepared to address it with the boss/HR.

    6. KatEnigma*

      Not being bubbly doesn’t equal sending random job postings for companies you aren’t associated with. Perhaps you didn’t read the entire letter.

    7. ED*

      OP wrote that her attitude appears more friendly to the rest of the team though, so it may not be as simple as her not being what she expects from women, but rather that there’s a discernible difference between how OP is being received and treated compared with everyone else. That was my take away at least.

  5. Goldenrod*

    My money is on this one too:
    “It could be because you’re the same age — if she was used to being the “smart young person” around the office, she could resent having someone take some of that spotlight away from her. (If I had to bet, my money’s on this one.)”

    OP, if you haven’t already read it, I recommend the book “The Four Agreements,” which helped me a lot – especially the chapter on the second agreement which is “don’t take anything personally.” It’s challenging, but I feel like this is a case where it is sooooo clear that this has nothing to do with you – whatever is going on is 100% a story in another person’s head.

    You could even think of this person as “the person who helps me practice the art of not taking things personally.”

    1. High Score!*

      I second this. “The Four Agreements” is an excellent book, I read it years ago and it helped me put things into perspective during a rough time.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      It also, depending on the particular work environment, may be related to something about the culture. Some consulting firms I’ve worked with definitely had a Hunger Games mentality towards the entry level staff. They might recruit say, 20 recent college grades for analyst positions every single year in that division, with the expectation that only 3 or 4 will be offered continued employment. In that case, if this co-worker and LW are both part of the “New Hires of Fall 2022” co-worker could be viewing LW as direct competition to their ability to succeed and stay employed. Especially if they have similar backgrounds/experience/skills/and or demographic characteristics.

      At the end of the day, that culture is on the management, but it doesn’t stop co-workers from picking up a competitive, take the knees out from peers attitude.
      Stupid example, I used to be part of a hobby group who would go on an annual trip to a particular place. I did stuff with them locally for a couple of years before joining them on that trip. There was another woman from another state who I’d heard great things about who would also come to that same place every year with her local group and the two groups hung out the whole week. The first time I met her and hung out with her she was not at all friendly to me, barely spoke to me and would shut me down in group conversations. It was baffling to me (I’m not very threatening, and am very easy going, friendly) After 1-2 days other people started noticing, it was that bad… like junior high clicque-y bad. Someone finally offered an explanation – MeanGirl was used to being THE only red-haired, petite, nerdy girl in that group, and suddenly here I was, ticking all those same boxes and she chose to respond as thought we were in a Highlander remake “There can be ONLY ONE!!”
      I decided not to engage her … I was polite, went about my business, hung out with other people. I wasn’t there to make my mark or unseat her or anyone else; I just wanted to enjoy the week with people with shared interests and there were plenty other people around.

      So with that in mind, for LW, I’d just say focus on your work, focus on other co-workers, and ignore her as much as possible. Push back if she’s inappropriately policing your meeting participation or she’s doing things to impede your work. People see what she’s doing and if you’re someplace where that’s rewarded, it might not be the place for you long term.

  6. Andri*

    Before I got to Alison’s answer I was thinking the same thing about her unfairly resenting you. I wonder if she feels a little insecure or jealous of your good performance – that she feels like she doesn’t stack up well or that she is in competition with you and she’s “losing”. Regardless, I’d agree with just ignoring it unless it affects your job.

    1. TG*

      I think she was used to be the IT girl and now you are – you won employee of the quarter and a raise within a year!! She’s jealous plain and simple.

  7. Festively Dressed Earl*

    Agree with the offering genuine praise regularly, and I’d add that it’s a good idea to spread that around to all your coworkers. That way it doesn’t read as sucking up, and acknowledging people’s good work is never a bad idea. Just don’t do it so often that it seems fake even when it’s sincere.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yes, I was thinking about this point and if I was at the Bitch Eating Crackers stage with someone, hearing compliments from them directly to me would just be annoying. I’d recommend letting it get back to them that I was saying good things about them to others. I think it would also go over well to say in a meeting ‘Rudecoworker also had some good ideas about that’ or something else to show you’re lifting her up, not trying to take her spotlight.

      1. Robert in SF*

        Just weighing in here that I use that same concept myself (but I just used “crackers moment” when noting it with past co-workers that I shared the topic with), based on that same meme (?).
        It helps me check myself when I have a problem with someone over the long haul.

        I love the self-awareness/humor that comes from the description, and really am glad to see others who also use it! :)

  8. ferrina*

    It’s times like these I think of Usher:
    “You remind me of a girl that I once knew
    See her face whenever I, I look at you…”

    Don’t take it personally- there’s any number of reasons she took an irrational dislike to you. She’s just not as self-aware about it as Usher is.

    1. High Score!*

      Sometimes that works for you too. Early in my career, I applied for a job that I did not have the experience for hoping to get lucky. And they hired me! I had been upfront about my lack of experience do could not figure out why. Until I saw a picture of my managers sister – she looked just like me! I don’t think he realized it.
      SO sometimes looking similar to someone else works in your favor too.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I once had a colleague who had the same colouring, build and general demeanour as my brother, and I had to actively work not to get irritated by him. It was so weird— I’d just be feeling increasingly tense in meetings and then I’d pay attention to why I was tense and there was a little voice in the back of my head going, “this is JUST LIKE that time when you were fourteen and I was fifteen and you…” And Id have to stop a reset and remind myself this wasn’t my brother at all, he was just pushing the same buttons!

  9. DoctorDocument*

    I think the fact that she “suggested” a job elsewhere to you is crossing over the line. I think following what others are suggesting is a good plan, but also document the stuff she does, especially as she does it in a covert fashion. If I was her supervisor, I would fuming about that message she sent you.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I agree. That signals potential for sabotage in the future. (Also, about as subtle as a drunk elephant–it astounds me how many people cannot see how obvious they’re being!)

    2. Somebody Call a Lawyer*

      OP — since she said the job posting was in case you had friends that might be interested, this could be a spot where you could potentially let that go instead of reading it as sabotage. It may be, but it doesn’t seem like it’s serving your sense of serenity to hold onto it as such. And who knows, maybe it could have been a random attempt on her part to be sporting and not be such a ______. (Even if it wasn’t, I’m curious how it might have changed your experience of it if you took her at face value and thought about any friends you have that may have been interested in the forwarded opportunity.)

      Regardless of her intent, for your purposes and wellbeing, you might consider letting this incident float off the pile of bad behaviors so you have less weighing you down. One of the most helpful things anyone ever said to me was “Just because someone is trying to make you feel bad doesn’t mean you have to accept their invite.” Good luck!

  10. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    While I agree with Alison in general, I am a little concerned about the being shot down in meetings.

    If you have a mentor or a good relationship with your boss, that might be something to raise in the “I’m young and want advice” kind of way. Maybe, “I’ve noticed in meetings like X and Y when I share ideas they are generally not well received. I was wondering if maybe I’m mistaken in my role in the meetings or maybe there’s something about my position I’m misunderstanding. Can you give me any insight?”

    This can flag behavior and, on the off chance that you are doing something you aren’t aware of (like using excess jargon or something), gives an opportunity for specific feedback. Also, if someone else is alerted, they may push back to make sure your contributions get a fair airing.

    1. ferrina*

      Love this advice. Ideally find someone who is in the meetings where this behavior happens- that can also help them identify what the Snarky Coworker is doing and maybe even call her out.

    2. higheredadmin*

      Seconding this. Also OP, don’t assume that the Boss loves her – as discussed, this is your perception. So in a similar way, you can vaguely ask the boss questions about working in teams etc. Your boss might be noticing a lot more than you realize, but you not saying anything tells boss that it is not an issue. A safe way to raise it is tangentially, as noted above.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Also, even if the boss does love her, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear this sort of information. I would want to know if a strong performer was behaving this way because they need some feedback, in the same way they’d need to know if they flubbed a presentation or misanalyzed some data. My job is to help everyone be their best professional self while getting shit done, and icing out a coworker is not part of that skill set.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Agreed, and I’m surprised I’m not seeing more suggestions to discuss with OP’s boss!

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      This is good advice, but I wouldn’t want OP to say ” when I share ideas they are generally not well received” but rather, “when I share ideas they are _sometimes_ not well received.” This seems more accurate based on the letter, and also OP doesn’t need to be quite that self-deprecating.

    5. Janeric*

      Maybe in a 1:1 LW could say “When I brought up X, coworker pushed back really strongly — is there project context I’m missing there?”

      I feel like if LW does this 3-4 times it might establish a pattern for the boss. I might also forward some of the ruder emails to LW’s boss and ask for clarification.

  11. melbelle*

    This is very cynical of me… but if you are her age + some other demographic that she is not, that may also be fueling the resentment. I can only speak to my own experience as a cis, white, gay, fat woman. I’ve had many straight-size coworkers who were borderline rude to me for a very long time, presumably only because I’m fat.

    If there’s an -ism at play here, I think Alison’s advice still holds. For me, if I have a strong suspicion someone doesn’t like me for my size or sexuality, it makes it easier for me to move on from the fact that they don’t like me, because it’s so clearly nothing to do with who I am as a person.

    Sorry you’re dealing with this, OP!

    1. Daffodil*

      Hi there,

      I am the LW. To be honest, I don’t think you’re completely off on this one.

      While I suspect that my colleague might feel like she has to compete with me for (mostly) professional reasons, I also suspect that she has some personal insecurities that she projects onto others. She has made some comments that suggest she might be insecure about her appearance and is quick to judge others accordingly. I definitely feel sorry for her in this regard.

      1. squirreltooth*

        I’ve had this kind of coworker too, OP, and I sympathize. Though sometimes it helps to realize the problem is inside themself and not something you’re doing or can fix.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        If you’re right about personal insecurities, then the ‘genuine admiration of her work’ isn’t going to be effective; she’ll just read it as patronizing, and it will become another ding against you.

        I think you should trust your feelings about this, unless you have some specific reason not to trust yourself. And it should be specific, as in “I regularly misread multiple people’s grouchiness” not “I might be misreading this one person this one time…”

        If your suspicion is correct, then think through her behavior and split it into “Affects Work” and “Doesn’t Affect Work”. For “Doesn’t Affect” (eg the job posting), practice the shrug and let go. For “Affects Work”, come up with specific actions to take. For example,
        1) Shuts your ideas down in meetings:
        a) Practice speaking up in the moment to challenge that
        b) As suggested above, ask your boss if you’re responding appropriately
        2) Criticizes you doing stuff differently: Remember that she doesn’t want witnesses.
        Loop your boss or team lead in with the “am I missing something, or is this new way ok?” question, twice. If they say “enh, either way is fine”, then if she tries a third time, just respond with “Thanks for the feedback!” and ignore her. Often doing it twice will prevent or delay a third time, because she doesn’t want witnesses. If you notice it slows her down, then do it 3 – 4 times before you ignore her, because that may cut the behavior off entirely.

        Deep down, she knows this isn’t ok, and her behavior wouldn’t be approved if noticed by others. Bring in witnesses when it matters.

        1. Observer*

          I think that’s a really good take.

          Find ways to deal with the “affects work” stuff. And realize that the other stuff is wrong and inappropriate, but it’s not your problem. It’s a “her” problem.”

      3. theletter*

        Oh, if you can see that, others are probably seeing it too and someone will eventually call her out on it in a way that will force her to change. You might be able to put your head down and let her evolve into a better human all on her own. She might even figure it out without any conversation.

        It might be worth analyzing her working style – sometimes people can get very religious about their work priorities. Speed vs. quality vs. quantity discussions can turn best friends into mortal enemies in the wrong circumstances. Does it seem like the shots revolve around accountability, or meta discussions around team processes? Would you find that people agree with the mistakes she picks out, or is she the only one who cares?

        If none of these things bring enlightment, watch and see what happens in six months. Usually time forces people to tackle their challenges directly.

      4. Becca*

        I was debating giving this advice, it might be terrible but since you say there are other reasons to suspect insecurity is the route of her behaviour:

        One thing that has really worked for me in the past in similar scenarios is for there to be a situation where my antagonist genuinely felt like the bigger person. It really goes against the grain – when someone clearly doesn’t like you and picks up every mistake and takes every opportunity to get one up on you the last thing you want is to give them more chances. However sometimes them getting to feel momentarily bigger can re-balance the relationship.

        I had a job when I was just starting out and was on a team with 3 other colleagues, all older than me but doing the same job. Two were lovely and one clearly resented me from the start, maybe because I was young & keen, maybe because I had plans to move on/up from the job which she didn’t. She watched me like a hawk and picked up on every tiny little error and I dreaded shifts working with her. A few months in I had a massive alarm clock fail and woke up 90 minutes after I should have been at work. Obviously mortified, rang the manager and rushed in. My nemesis was on shift which made it all the worse and I assumed she would take great satisfaction in this fuck up that was way way worse than all the tiny things she’d nitpicked up til then. She came in, gave me a wry sympathetic look and we were absolutely fine from that point on, she became one of my favourite colleagues to work with.

        Could you pick something that she’s actually better than you at and ask her for help/tips? Not something that gives her lots more room to argue that you’re not good at your job but something that she could potentially feel good about helping with if she’s inclined to.

        1. Chrissimas*

          This is like the Ben Franklin effect! (Read it on Ye Olde Internet. No never googled to see if the story was true)

          Supposedly he had a colleague/competitor/nemesis that loathed him. After many years of hatred, Ben made up a favor he needed and asked the other guy to help him since it was Nemesis’ specialty. You would think the guy would’ve refused but he agreed and they got along fine after that. Voluntarily helping someone you dislike causes some cognitive dissonance and can kind of force your brain to reassess the dislike to match your actions (which are what you would do for someone you like).

          I have actually done this a couple times and it has worked both times. Not miraculously so, but enough.

      5. melbelle*

        Ugh, how disappointing – I was hoping for your sake that this was off-base.

        Something I thought of after my original comment – keep your communications with this person in writing as much as possible. When they’re in a meeting/face-to-face/over the phone/not written, keep a Word document of your conversations, and the day and time they happened.

        You never know if this will escalate, and having a written record of things has never hurt anyone. It doesn’t exactly spark comraderie, but unfortunately due to how this person feels about you I’m not sure you’re going to be able to learn from her as much as you want to. :/

  12. BatManDan*

    Take what you want from this, from my personal experience. Many people have said “I didn’t like you at first, but after being around you for a few years, I figured out you’ve got a lot offer.” I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that.

    1. Lydia*

      And that fine. But if you’re not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s not permission to be rude to you, send you job postings to encourage you to leave, or any of the other crappy things this person is doing to OP. I know not everyone likes me just because it’s not likely everyone will. But I don’t know that from anything they’ve said or done to me at work.

  13. Essentially Cheesy*

    Maybe not everyone is meant to always mesh with everyone else? Can’t we account for personality differences and maybe leave each other alone as much as possible? Leave communication to emails instead of forcing face-to-face interactions, for example.

      1. Peanut Hamper*


        On any given day, this could relate to a large number of comments. I can think of three potential reasons:

        1) People read their own situations entirely too deeply into the letter.
        2) People don’t read the letter very carefully, and are just entirely too anxious to post a comment.
        3) People love AAM fanfic.

        1. Lydia*

          No kidding. It’s so exhausting when those comments take off and somehow become considered real instead of someone’s wild musings.

    1. Office Cheetos*

      There’s personality differences and then there’s openly hostile. This scenario isn’t personality differences when the co-worker is one way to the LW and then is a complete 180 to the rest of the team.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I agree with Office Cheetos. Specifically the pointing out every minor mistake OP makes, pointing out every time the OP does something differently (not the wrong way, just differently), and sending the OP job openings at other companies “in case your friends are looking” are all actions that are openly hostile. None of those are “leaving each other alone as much as possible” because we don’t mesh.

    2. Tio*

      Not a lot of ways to avoid being talked down at during a meeting, or sent random job postings, even if you limit contact.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      So, because the coworker doesn’t seem to like LW, it’s fine to treat her completely differently from coworkers, shut her down in meetings in front of others, and send her job postings?

      What is described in the letter is not a “personality difference”, it’s blatant, disparate treatment in a work environment. People who are unable to be baseline polite and professional, even to coworkers they don’t personally like, should remove themselves from such situations until they become mature enough to do so.

      Seriously, is there anyone who doesn’t have at least one coworker that they have to be professional with even though they deeply dislike them as a person?

  14. BL73*

    I think Allison saying this is related to jealousy is not appropriate. We have no idea of what the cause is and it plays into sexist tropes (women are jealous of other women who are as successful as them). I could also speculate on any number of things the LW “might” have done to cause the issue – it’s not helpful however.

    Not everyone gets along all of the time. The majority of your team likes you. Your boss likes you. You aren’t at work to make friends for life. Don’t confront her. Just do your job and ignore her. If she does something that actively messes with your work, that’s the time to elevate.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      It sounds like the OP has to work with her enough that this might not always be feasible. And the coworker is outright rude.

      1. BL73*

        I disagree but that’s okay! When I think someone doesn’t like me, I start compiling the evidence in my head – that might not even be there – to justify that I’m being treated unfairly. In the LW’s opinion, the co-worker is rude. That may not be what’s actually happening here. In any case, don’t confront. If your boss loves her, it may not work in your favor. Head down, do a good job, be kind to everyone. That will get you the right kind of attention and if she really is being rude, people will start to notice.

        1. sagc*

          Wait. Is your argument that the LW is *wrong* to find the behaviours they list rude? That seems like it’s not how most people would view it.

          1. BL73*

            Then the LW has a boss problem, not a co-worker problem, because if her ideas are valuable and a co-worker is allowed to make the call on whether they pursue them, that’s on her boss to identify and handle.

          2. BL73*

            I think the LW has given a whole list of things the c0-worker does that she feels are rude, but may not be the case. In any case, I’m not really going to argue back and forth. LW came across to me as wanting everyone to like her. That’s never going to happen in life or in a professional capacity.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              How is it not rude to shut down OP’s ideas in meetings, to be cold and unfriendly to OP while friendly to others, to send unsolicited random job posts to OP?? Unless you’re going to blatantly ignore one of the commenting rules on this site and argue that maybe OP is lying, there’s zero justification for this behavior.

              Honestly, it sounds like OP’s letter struck a nerve for you that you may want to examine a bit closer.

            2. sagc*

              She wants politeness, not people liking her? That seemed to come across in the letter.

              I’m curious what sort of behaviour you would find over the line.

    2. FurySaidToTheMouse*

      I think professional jealousy is absolutely relevant to bring up! It’s not sexist to point out that something pretty common might be happening. I think if a young man wrote in about a male colleague treating him this way, jealousy would also be raised as a potential cause. It’s also not like Alison said that the colleague is jealous of OP’s looks. Really not seeing how this is sexist.
      I think it’s very valuable for young people to be aware of jealousy at work. It is toxic, dangerous, and demoralizing and very real.

      1. Andy*

        I work in male dominated environment and described hostility would be framed as question of dominance or control or lack of social skills. Or as general “does not like me”.

        I don’t recall anyone ever frame these as jealousy.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Maybe that’s a failing in how we talk about men’s emotions?

          I was bullied as a child and got a lot of “Oh, he just likes you, that’s why.” Reader, I am VERY CERTAIN that my bully did not torment me until I cried because he was into me. But at some point it occurred to me: my dad was visibly present in my life — walked me to school every morning, picked me up in the afternoon, came on every school trip, visibly cared about me. His dad was a Very Busy preacher who I don’t think I ever even saw in the seven years we went to school together. And “He was jealous because your father was present and his was absent” makes a lot more sense to me than a first-grade crush.

          1. andy*

            I dont think so, I dont think they were jealous. Mostly because there are many options and jealous being only one of them and not nearly the most likely one. And for it being jealousy, there would need to be something to be jealous about.

            I dont know what went on with that other kid. I dont really want to speculate on it, tho I agree that crush interpretation is just stupid. But you was not the only kid with present dad in a class and there are way more options then just present dad. Kids bully other kids for many reasons. Imo, both crush and jealousy are interpretations meant to that make the victim feel better – dont worry it is just about you having advantage or some sort of superiority.

    3. sagc*

      LWs work *is* being messed with; what effect do you think their ideas being shot down in meetings is having?

      1. Viki*

        But ideas being shot down in meetings is a process of meetings?

        We have a new employee who has all these great ideas, but is new to both the company and the industry, so all of her new ideas that are innovative have already been done and have not worked for various reasons. I’m not wasting time exploring those ideas.

        If OP is about a year into working, there’s a whole wealth of history of company knowledge/ideas that they don’t know of and the coworker could just simply be speaking from expeirance due to tenure. Nothing in the letter suggests that the coworker is in correct in the feedback is being given, just that it’s rude.

        Coworker needs to work on her tone when giving feedback, but it’s never been stated as wrong.

        1. sagc*

          Ok, but I presume they’re not one-on-one meetings, and I bet the OP would have mentioned if she’s getting approbation from everyone in every meeting.

          In a vacuum, I think your point is worth considering. When it’s a peer, and only one peer, doing it constantly while also doing other rude things? There are probably other explanations.

          1. Viki*

            I would and do shut down bad ideas in meetings that are not one-on-one. A meeting can get derailed if someone gets focused on a idea and wants to push it forward, so I think that shutting down ideas in a meeting isn’t an inherently bad thing.

            Tonal rudeness in emails is so hard to pin down and without examples there’s no way to say oh coworker is just blunter than LW wants or coworker is actively rude. There’s just not enough examples that have proof behind it.

            There’s no information either way that the coworker is wrong in her assertion, just that it’s not to the LW’s liking of how the message is being delivered. The coworker asserts LW work is good, which makes me think that the issues are small and the coworker either has higher standards of output that she expects the LW to live up to, or the concept of rude has different definitions.

            ” …she’s quick to point it out in a way that makes me feel bad.” I don’t know what that means, is it openly berating the LW? Or is it just “xyz is wrong. This is the second time this q, you’ve messed up those numbers. That can’t happen.” That is such a spectrum, and there’s no way to give a real opinion on that unless I’m watching it.

            “…If I don’t do something the exact way that she would do it (but not necessarily wrong — just different), she criticizes me.” Okay, then is there a shared logic they both need to us? If they’re using separate logic but both need to work on the same item, for the sake consistency I can see wanting to use similar logic–and again what is the critisicm? Is it “Why did you sort by colour? That’s so stupid, you should sort by weight?” Or is it “We’ve already established we’re using weight as the central metric, we shouldn’t change it now?”

            The job posting, is the only thing that I’m not sure how I’d take it. Charitably, it could have come up and she could have sent it to the LW in a genuine you’re a new grad, you might know someone who would fit in this posting. Or it could be a very forward way to try to get someone to leave. I tend to go with the new grad, friends need job view because I do that to new grads in my company, as I know it’s hard to find opening when you’re not even sure what job board to look at, this early in your careeer.

            I believe the LW says that she thinks the coworker is being rude to her. But her examples of one word answers, and shooting down ideas, and rude tone in emails aren’t useful to give any advice besides shifting the idea from “why does coworker hate me to coworker is blunter than I would prefer, so we’re here as colleagues not friends”

            1. sagc*

              Ok, but you do recognize that there’s a level of blunt that’s unprofessional, right? That’s what she’s saying is going on, at minimum.

              Otherwise, we can just question every statement in every letter, but at some point, we just have to believe people are capable of arriving at accurate conclusions about their environment.

            2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

              I really dislike it when people apply a beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof to letter writers. This is not a court and co-worker is not going to prison if some random people on the internet think she’s a jerk. She’s not just “blunter than [LW] would prefer” because she treats everyone else differently from the LW. Also, I am blunt, and I don’t act like this at all, because I’m not rude.

            3. Lydia*

              You’re looking at each thing individually so you can excuse crappy behavior instead of looking at the whole picture as a pattern of crappy behavior. Maybe, if we’re going to go way out of our way to rationalize it, you’re not actually blunt but just rude and use the excuse of bluntness so you can be rude.

        2. So Tired*

          *If* it’s a case of LW having ideas that have been tried before and don’t work, as you’re suggesting, then their colleague should say that when the suggestions are made. “Thanks for the suggestion, LW, but we’ve actually tried something like that before and found it didn’t work because XYZ.”

          The fact that that’s not happening indicates that either LW’s ideas haven’t been tried before, or their colleague is indeed being rude to them and shutting them down. Even if the coworker is correct to turn down LW’s ideas, the wording used in the letter, of being “shut down” further shows that LW’s colleague is being rude, which is what the letter is about. If ideas presented don’t work for whatever reason, that should be communicated rather than being simply told no.

        3. Fluffy Fish*

          If that were the case presumably OTHER people would also being doing the same things in meetings to OP. But they’re not.

          It would be nice if OP’s, especially ones like this one, who provide multiple examples were believed to be the expert on the situation they are experiencing. Singling out one of the list of problematic behaviors and justifying it isnt helpful and ignore everything else OP said.

    4. Andy*

      Yeah, I have seen my male collegies having similar hostilities against each other. No one framed it as jealousy.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      Alison didn’t say this is because of jealousy; she said it’s possibly because of jealousy. She’s trying to offer up some potential reasons for rude coworker’s behavior, based on her years of experience managing situations like these.

      And this is not a sexist trope. Women can really be cruel to each other. We have had tons of letters and comments that verify this.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And men can be really cruel to each other and women can be really cruel to men and boy, can men be really cruel to women. I agree this could be due to jealousy (could equally well be a whole load of other things) and that is equally possible if the LW is a man and would be equally possible if the other person were a man.

        “Women can be really cruel to each other” sort of is a sexist trope because it implies women are more likely to be cruel than men are.

        As a teacher, any time I see this type of mean kid behaviour from boys, somebody will say something like “they’re as bad as the girls” or words to that effect. I have probably seen it more often in boys’ schools than in girls’ schools (I don’t think that means it is more common among boys; I think it has more to do with school culture and I just worked in one or two boys’ schools that had that kind of mentality whereas the girls’ schools I worked in tended to be larger and I think it’s more common in small groups) but even when it happened in all boys’ schools, suddenly somebody would mention girls. When it happens among girls, nobody brings up boys.

        And I do think the perception that this is a “female behaviour” does harm women in the workplace, both because it can cause people to question whether women can be trusted in management or whether they will be cruel to those beneath them and because it leads to women being dismissed when they raise genuine issues – “she’s probably just jealous/being catty.”

      2. Observer*

        Alison didn’t say this is because of jealousy; she said it’s possibly because of jealousy. She’s trying to offer up some potential reasons for rude coworker’s behavior, based on her years of experience managing situations like these.

        That’s true.

        And this is not a sexist trope. Women can really be cruel to each other. A

        What is sexist is the assumption that it’s specific to women’s behavior towards women. Which is nonsense. Women can be cruel to men, and men (as we all know!) can be quite cruel to men and to women.

        And none of this is relevant to the letter! Because pointing out that ONE *possible* reason for this behavior might be jealousy is not about “because women”. And in fact, Allison’s assumption seems to be that *if* it’s about jealousy, it’s about status as the latest “wunderkind” than anything to do with gender.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yes, exactly. This is why I was so rankled by BL73’s response. They are introducing a sexist element to this that is not present in either the letter or Alison’s response.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Going to disagree – the OP should definitely consider whether the coworker is being territorial or jealous or sees her as a threat. That’s an entirely likely scenario.

      It would be one thing if the co-worker were just not collegial and not warm or personable with her. But the coworker is criticizing her and trying to performance manage her (when the coworker has no business doing so), shooting down what seem to be reasonable or good ideas in meetings, etc. etc. On top of this, she’s sent her job postings – it would be one thing to send a job posting to a work friend. It’s quite another to send a job posting for a role outside the organization to someone who you have made it quite clear that you don’t like.

      I agree that the OP shouldn’t necessarily DO anything right now. But she should make note of when the coworker criticizes her, shoots down her ideas, etc., and like you suggest, escalate if the coworker does anything that actively affects her work.

    7. amoeba*

      Eh. I originally thought the OP was a man and my first thought was still jealousy (or competition if that sounds better…)

    8. BethRA*

      OP states that the person is openly dismissive in meetings and shoots down their ideas, etc. – “just ignore her” seems pretty dismissive of the multiple specific examples listed in the letter.

      1. Lydia*

        The one thing that people who support the “just ignore them” approach fail to realize is that puts all the responsibility on the injured party while the perpetrator continues to be crappy without any accountability. Or maybe they do realize it and don’t care because the status quo is more important. Either way, it’s not an approach I’m likely to take if it’s as egregious as the OP has described.

    9. Observer*

      I think Allison saying this is related to jealousy is not appropriate. We have no idea of what the cause is and it plays into sexist tropes (women are jealous of other women who are as successful as them).

      No, it doesn’t. The letter itself doesn’t indicate the LW’s gender. And Allison is pretty explicit about it being “young savvy person” status. No indication at all this being about women being jealous of women.

      I find it interesting that that’s where you went with it. Why? Could it be projection? Something to think about.

      1. andy*

        This was interesting comment and I went to reread it. Imo, the assumption is because both the letter and response follow certain gendered patters. Letter spending serious effort on observation of warmth/coldness and personal relationship. Also by focusing on “why”.

        And the response by asking the letter writer to be docile, accommodating, calm, self suppressing. Letter writer is supposed to go out of their way to praise the hostile rude person, be nice to her. There is no mention of defending your solutions, ideas, setting boundaries or respectfully pushing back where appropriate. There is no “you are not mine boss” moment. Even where there is sorta dialog about situation, letter writer is supposed to ask what he/she has done wrong and that is about it.

        The response is all about very submissive response to the hostile situation. So, combined with assumption it is jealousy, people including me just assumed LW is a woman.

    10. martin blackwood*

      This is about 50% relevant, but i was reminded of something i read on tumblr about stereotypes and media respresentation. Someone had claimed that Knives out was racist for having the singular latina be a poor domestic worker? (I think. I havent seen the movie). Thats a stereotype, yes, but one thats common IRL. So by saying “never portray a latina domestic worker, thats a stereotype and racist” youre also sort of saying “these real peoples lives arent worth representing.”

      Anyway, i think thats something to keep in mind in general, i think. Especially in this case since if you pick two people at random, its like, 25% chance for them both to be women? Like, its not uncommon to find something ti be jealous of in other people. Its isnt common for this sort of behavior to result, but its not unheard of, either. Idk, i just dont think “x is a stereotype so Y never happens in real life” is a good way of looking at things

      1. Ray Gillette*

        That’s a Tumblr moment. Knives out is primarily a story about the (wealthy, white) family of the murder victim and how awful they are. The “singular” Latina character worked as the dead character’s home health aide and is the closest thing the film has to a protagonist other than Daniel Craig. Also, we also see multiple members of her family in the first 2o minutes of the movie, so I question whether anyone describing her that way has even seen it.

        It’s a good movie. I highly recommend it. Glass Onion was just ok. Still worth a watch if you already have Netflix, though. You don’t need to have seen the first one for it to make sense.

  15. FurySaidToTheMouse*

    Focus on your relationships with your nice colleagues. Ignore this person, she sounds like a jerk. In my experience, trying to engage an insecure jerk and bully usually does very little. You know how she’s treating you, she knows how she’s treating you, there is no kumbaya moment coming.

    My advice? Really lean into strong relationships with everyone else. The more reliable, intelligent, and kind they view you as, the more quickly you’ll rise through the ranks and eventually move away from this snakey person.

    1. AGD*

      I have one of these in my life – a colleague who keeps trying to convince our boss that something I’m doing is just flat-out wrong. Fortunately, I am really competent (my usual response is, “huh, nope, I didn’t bungle this thing at all, here’s some evidence and a short list of alternative interpretations that don’t rest on me supposedly sucking at my job”) and I get along so well with everyone else at work that my boss has a hard time understanding where the angry lone dissenter is coming from.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I have to do that periodically with one coworker. My way is not their way but my way is not the wrong way, either. Occasionally they will try to call me to the carpet. Our mutual boss is aware of my struggles with this person. I have reason to believe I am not the only one, so as long as my boss is OK with My Way, I keep doing it.

    2. River*

      Agreed. Don’t let the one not nice person outweigh the actual nice ones. I dealt with someone like this and my solution was to not engage with them unless absolutely necessary. Don’t look at them, acknowledge them only for business purposes, have fun engaging conversations with everyone else, and leave them be. Not long after that, they would try and join in conversations I was having with others. I think it’s because she didn’t want to be perceived as anti-social or in a way that would tarnish her reputation or paint her in a negative light. Plus I know she wanted to move up within the company so her “reputation” and “image” was at risk during these instances. The things people will do or not do when others are around…quite interesting…..
      Don’t let this woman’s thoughts or treatment of you hold any power over you.

  16. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    Is your name Jill? I have to breathe deep and find my best self when I meet a Jill. There are two Jills in my distant past I despise, and a Jillian who was a right pain in my a**.

    Alison’s strategies are spot on, but I’m on team Do Nothing. As for how to have it get to you less, the more focus you put on her and her behavior, the more you will care. Deliberately focus on everyone else, and how warm and helpful they are. Let her fade into the background of your day.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Me too. I’d take it a step further and do Extreme Nothing. Exchanges with her can continue to be polite and businesslike, but other than that she can basically be wallpaper. In meetings, keep your voice and tone even and say things like, “I’ve given this thought and here’s how this can be successful” to set up your ideas. If she interrupts, calmly say you’re not quite done. if she criticizes you for doing task in X way instead of Y way, say nothing. Ask other coworkers for advice on things and specifically don’t ask her.

      And perhaps also seek 1:1 time with your boss. Don’t talk about how the coworker is mean, but get the boss’s approval for the things you are doing in the way you’re doing it. That way if coworker elevates her complaints to the boss, it’s already covered.

    2. Ferret*

      Lol. I’m not great with Steves. Since the last Steve I despite with that I charitably thought was decent turned out to not be that good a guy, my feelings on Steves have only sharpened. Sorry to any good Steves out there.

    3. Funkywizaard*

      I’m the same way about Barbara’s. I always start off with a negative attitude about them. I didn’t fully realize it was obvious until a coworker named Barbara asked me point blank what she did that made me be so mean to her. She was actually a very nice lady. But that name! I blame my second grade teacher, who was a Barbara. I hated that woman. She hated me, too.

  17. Super Fun*

    I wonder if OP is blurring the line between getting along at work and viewing people in a more pure friendship sense. This is normal for recent grads by the way! But I have to admit that the framing of this letter (the implication that something is actively wrong if something doesn’t like you) isn’t something that’s been part of my mindset since I was in my early 20s. This coworker might sense that you’re looking for a level of friendship that she just isn’t interested in, or that you’re looking to her for a kind of approval or validation that, as a peer and relative stranger, aren’t her responsibility.

    The other side of this letter would be if someone wrote in saying, “my coworker is fixated on getting everyone to be friends with her, but I’m just not interested. I’m satisfied with my friend group as it is, and while I’m polite toward her, I’m not prepared to give her what she’s looking for. She is now seeking advice on this matter as if it’s a problem to be solved, and I don’t know what to do because I think making it an issue of friendship is such a misreading of the situation that a response on those terms won’t resolve the issue as it really exists.”

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong yet, but you do need to leave her alone on this count. It’s okay if she doesn’t like you, and you can’t force her to.

    1. sagc*

      This is just a person who wants to be treated with politeness, not someone who’s pissed that everyone isn’t their best friend. Like, shooting down their ideas in meetings? Not a friendship issue!

      You probably should be able to force people to treat their coworkers with basic respect.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, exactly this. I’ve been on both sides of the “desperate to be friends” issue, although admittedly in my case it happened in junior high, so I do know that this can happen. When I was the desperate person, the more I wanted to be friends, the more that person avoided me whenever she could. I did eventually stop when I realized that she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. The following year, I had someone who was desperate to be my friend. I was friendly to her once or twice, and after that she treated me like we were BFFs, which wasn’t the way I saw it, and I started avoiding *her*. When this had gone on for a while, I sought my former victim out and apologized for not getting the message sooner. At that time, I’d found my people, so while we didn’t become friends, she no longer ran in the opposite direction when she saw me because I was no longer radiating desperate vibes.

        I’ve even seen it happen at work (call center in my early 20s), but then I was a fairly close work friend of someone who seemed to gather an entourage of wannabe friends wherever she went. Most of them were okay, but some of them were definitely jealous and some even tried to get me to intercede on their behalf so they could be friends with my work friend.

    2. Daffodil*


      I am the LW. I can see your point about why I might have come across this way, but I would just like to clarify that I desire politeness, respect, and a constructive working relationship with my colleague. This person has not been polite to me – or at least, I don’t see constant criticism or sending job postings as being polite. I do not expect to be best friends with my coworkers as I have fulfilling friendships and a relationship outside of work.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Re the job postings on the next one I would return to sender, so to speak. Tell her that neither you nor your friends are currently job hunting so please stop sending them, thanks.

        1. Observer*

          I wouldn’t even do that much. Don’t reply.

          If the CW is trying to get a rise out of the LW, then not responding leaves them with nothing – not even an assurance that the LW actually looked at the thing. If the CW goes so far as to ask about it “Eh, I’m not looking and I’m too busy to do anything with these, so you might as well stop bothering with sending me these” is, imo, a more effective response.

      2. Lydia*

        You absolutely deserve politeness and respect, and this person is crummy. I think a conversation similar to what was suggested above about getting some feedback from your boss would be helpful for the reasons listed: you might be doing something you could reign in, and either way it alerts your boss to the situation without it coming across as an interpersonal issue (even though it’s not).

    3. Snell*

      I am not sure that I can interpret “sending LW a job opening at a completely unrelated company” as “getting along at work.” Maybe LW framed the situation improperly, maybe Alison’s editing did the same, maybe you only read the title, skimmed the first paragraph, and made your own assumptions on the content; ignoring the maybes and looking at the described behaviors in the letter, the coworker’s actions don’t describe someone pushing back against unwanted friendship overtures.

      Also, it most certainly is a work problem if coworker is friendly with everyone in the office EXCEPT for LW, who gets treated coldly. That’s the situation described in the letter. The other side of this letter most definitely does not include the phrase “I’m polite toward her.” The coworker singles out LW for this treatment, because of that, we know it can’t be coworker being “coolly professional.”

    4. Kella*

      I want to point out that OP’s mention of “why does this coworker dislike me?” doesn’t actually come in until halfway through the letter (Alison writes the titles). And all of the specific reasons OP listed sound like genuine examples of rudeness, not just a lack of connection or friendship. Based on the behaviors mentioned, I’d actually reframe OP’s conclusion that the coworker doesn’t like them and instead of asking “Why doesn’t she like me?” ask, “Why is my coworker unpleasant, critical, and rude to me and not to anyone else?” It’s a logical assumption that it’s because she doesn’t like OP but it’s not the only explanation, and regardless, coworker’s actions are not okay.

      1. Snell*

        LW’s desire to know the coworker’s motivation behind her treatment of LW definitely serves LW’s peace of mind more than LW’s work concerns. And I totally get it. Outside of work, there IS a certain satisfaction in knowing the cause of bad behavior; it’s just unfortunate that LW /must/ be exposed to poor treatment because it happens at work.

        However, since this is a work-blog that covers work-problems, a common answer to “I am getting mistreated at work” is “It doesn’t matter why you’re getting mistreated. It needs to stop.” The “why” of this problem matters to the coworker, maybe it matters to the boss, maybe it matters to a professional whom the coworker went to for help managing the behavior, but it definitely doesn’t (and SHOULDN’T) matter to the person being mistreated at work.

  18. Stevesie*

    I agree that this is where it crosses the line too. However if others are generally receiving your ideas well until this particular coworker shoots it down, it might be more worth calling it out specifically to your boss, such as “In the last meeting, coworker seemed to shoot down this idea before others had a moment to discuss. This actually happens quite often and I’m wondering if you share those concerns or if you wouldn’t mind helping step in on those situations”. I’d bet if she’s actually a good manager she’d ask other questions about your relationship with the coworker and you’d have an opening to discuss how she’s treated you in general since you started.

  19. TypityTypeType*

    I think there’s a clue in the boss “LOVES her.” Co-worker is — or thinks she is — the boss’s favorite, and she’s guarding her turf.

    Co-worker doesn’t know that she got lucky when they hired LW, who just wants to get along and even be friendly. Someday Co-worker is going to run into a new hire who really is aggressive and competitive, and willing to make a real fight out of it. No one comes off well in those battles.

    1. Frankie*

      That’s what I’d bet money on, honestly, having seen it play out in the workplace a good amount.

      I unfortunately think the best thing to do with a pattern like this is to at once affirm that it’s not something you’re doing, but also that it’s not behavior that’s very likely to change. I haven’t seen someone who would go to these lengths who will really change. I think it’s good to note, and have your guard up around her and be watchful–don’t assume you’ll be able to get to a trusted working relationship with her, ever. It may happen, it probably won’t.

      Model good behavior, boundaries and norms yourself, and focus on performing well for your manager, so that you can’t be undermined directly to your manager.

      I do think the upthread suggestion to chat with your boss about how your ideas are received in meetings is a good idea. It’s one way to sideways get to the issue without throwing the coworker under the bus or appearing as if you want to start interpersonal drama. If you start having work obstructed with your coworker, that’s fair game to work through with your manager, as well.

      BUT if she’s loved by the manager, you’ll have to be careful there, too. Sometimes I’ve seen more covert-style people try to elicit a particular response so that they can take that response to their manager and complain about it in a one-sided way. Be beyond reproach with her and you’ll make it hard to do that.

    2. Mill Miker*

      I’m wondering if the coworker has ever won employee of the quarter? I know the issues started before that, but if you’re getting rewards she’s not, and/or if your boss is generally singing your praises (or worse, actively comparing you), that could really be piling on to “feels threatened” thing.

      I can’t think of a good way to see if that’s happening or not unless your boss is doing it openly, so this is probably a useless musing.

  20. Won't Get Fooled Again. Maybe.*

    No way should you sit back and let her be critical of the way that you work or shut you down at meetings. It doesn’t have to be an aggressive conversation, but direct and to the point. “Is there a reason you’re critical of my work when I do something different than you do? And why do you shoot down my input at every meeting we attend together?”

    1. FurySaidToTheMouse*

      I don’t think there’s any point saying this privately to a bully. She should stand up for herself in the meeting, eg:

      “Ok Millicent, I hear you, curious what *boss* thinks?”

      Don’t allow her to just shut you down. Other people tend be lazy and afraid of conflict –
      , they may not stand up for you on their own, but standing up for yourself professionally and in front of witnesses will create a sticky wicket for the bully

  21. Andy*

    I found out that setting boundaries works better then being doormat. Someone being cold is his/her right. But a peer being rude can be replied with “you are rude” and someone insulting you after minor mistake can be replied with “that was uncalled for”.

    If collegue is framing of your different as something bad, it is OK and even necessary to defend the solution or just slightly push back. Else you will get more and more these. What is worst, people watching the interactions will believe them and think you are less capable.

    This holds especially if you are working in setup where people are checking on each other (like code review). But in other situations too – if you don’t respectfuly respond to people blaming you, you will get a lot of blame.

  22. KK*

    Just a shot in the dark here…..I wonder if you were hired over her friend/colleague/neighbor/whoever that may have been in the running and she is forever resentful to you about it. And hoping to push you out by shooting down your ideas and encouraging to apply elsewhere.

    1. Lydia*

      This is the most reasonable fanfic suggestion. It’s possible that’s the case. We’ve seen it before from letter writers. Whatever the reason, OP should be able to address it with her colleague.

  23. Aggretsuko*

    Sometimes people just hate you at first sight. I get that …pretty frequently. TypityTypeType probably has the best guess as to why, that you’re a rival, but there’s nothing you can do to make her hate you less.

    I’m not quite sure from this if she’s getting into bullying territory–it sounds like it’s edging there–but I’m pretty concerned that she’ll escalate. You can’t tell the boss, for sure. I’d look into leaving in another year or two, especially if she gets worse.

    1. Lenore*

      Of course OP can tell the boss, and should, with examples.

      I am so sick of managers who bury their heads in the sand indefinitely according to a “no news is good news” philosophy, when they should be *pro-actively* and *periodically* checking in, e.g. “How are things going with projects x and y and so-and-so?” or what have you. Managers need to open the door constantly, energetically and widely, not wait to be approached.

      Co-workers such as LW’s pull this bullying crap because they can: demoralize, outwardly sneer, embarrass someone in front of everyone else, pass along job ads (!!), whatever they see they can get away with. This co-worker shouldn’t be news to the manager at all, and, had the manager been *pro-actively* and *periodically* checking so as to MANAGE, co-worker’s behavior would have stopped, at least while working for that particular manager.

      No non-manager should have to handle this, and managers who look the other way because again, no news is good news, don’t belong in management.

      I’m sorry you’re being bullied, LW.

      1. allathian*

        I think the problem is that the coworker is the manager’s favorite, so if it comes down to their word against the LW’s, the LW could be in trouble, in spite of all the good things everyone else’s saying.

        I agree that it’s long past time that the manager should’ve done something, especially if she’s been present at the meetings where the coworker runs roughshod over LW…

  24. I edit everything*

    Benjamin Franklin once determined that the way to get someone who didn’t like you personally to bend and be kinder was to ask them for a favor, something that person is uniquely suited to do.

    1. Lurks@work*

      I did a word search on this article, just suggest this! Politely ask for a small favor, like to borrow a pencil or something, and then sincerely, thank her for the favor when she does it. It sounds counterintuitive, but the psychology behind it is that we have a hard time disliking people we do nice things for.

  25. Space Lasers*

    I was in a very similar position in my first job after college. The youngest member on my team (after me), rather than being excited and welcoming of a new team member to help her out, was instead cold and passive-aggressive to me from day one. Literally, my first day on the job, I asked where people generally got lunch and she left with another coworker in the office and I was left to figure out where to go on my own. She threw me under the bus whenever she could and barely respond if I talked to her. This workplace had a wealth of other issues (out of touch boss who let her dog pee in other people’s offices, sky high turnover, etc.) but this one coworker was the primary cause of much of my misery in this job because while she could and should have been my ally, she instead froze me out and undermined me at every turn. The best I could ever figure was that she enjoyed being the go-to support/admin level person on the team and was threatened by my addition to the team. The only point in my entire miserable 6 months there when she was even remotely friendly to me was when each of her other friends had left and I was basically the last person left for her to talk to. Anyway, long story just to say that sometimes this happens, it sucks, it’s almost certainly 100% from the other person, and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it other than watch your back and make sure you don’t let this person undermine you without your knowledge. Also, I’m not in the same field anymore, but our city is a small community in a lot of ways and I still occasionally entertain fantasies of her coming to me for some professional reason and me being able to turn her down (I know, very mature, 15 years later).

  26. sagc*

    Cue significant parts of the commentariat coming to say things along the lines of “maybe you’re the rude one for wanting her to be polite” and “nobody is owed a friend at work”.

    If your first instinct is to question whether this is actual rudeness, or to ask if it actually matters to their work, or to say that this is clearly on the LW… I’m glad I don’t have to work closely with you, I guess!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I think you, like me initially, misread that last line.

        I believe what sagc means is that they are glad they don’t have to work with anyone who would express the opinions they have listed. And I agree with that. People who like to blame the victim are not the kind of people I would like to work with.

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Insert Homer Simpson doh! meme here!

            (I love it when my neuratypical brain says “I got this” but it actually doesn’t. Wow, life is a roller coaster!)

    1. Super Fun*

      No one is really saying she’s the problem. If anything people are pointing out that a lot of these little quibbles shouldn’t rattle her, and that she shouldn’t clock them as things to ask advice about.

      1. Lydia*

        Actually, people are saying OP’s the problem for wanting everyone to be her best friend at work. OP hasn’t said anything like that.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I mean…you literally posted a comment higher up that, no matter how nice your tone was, told OP that she’s wrong in how she’s thinking about this, and even here, you’re minimizing OP’s concerns as “little quibbles”. You literally said that OP’s not the problem yet. (Implying that if anyone is the problem, OP is.

  27. WonderWoman*

    In college, a fellow student was bizarrely cold and hostile to me (to the point that everyone noticed), and I was so terrified of making it worse that I never called it out openly. It was pretty obvious even then that this person had some serious mental health issues, and I later received confirmation through the grapevine that his issues had nothing to do with me.

  28. chs.29*

    I agree with Alison’s bet that your coworker feels competitive with you in some way, and that is entirely on her.
    At an old job, after switching industries and receiving glowing praise, I learned that one of my coworkers had loudly questioned my skills in the cafeteria and then texted a coworker that I was incompetent. I was so upset, I teared up. I knew that it was completely false, and this coworker had always been rude, but it stung so badly.
    Come to find out, she’d been very vocally against the creation of my position, and she felt ridiculous when everyone was overwhelmingly happy with my work. So she was trying to undermine me, making herself look better. All that to say, it likely has nothing to do with you! Fortunately, I think it’s easy for others to see when this is happening, and it will reflect very well on you to keep handling it with kindness and professionalism.

  29. Ellis Bell*

    In the immortal words of a former mentor: “Some people are just funny buggers”. The fact that she’s coming across as rude and passive aggressive is just a cautionary example of what not to do if you’re threatened/not vibing with someone. I really doubt it’s something you have to solve about yourself since you get along with everyone else. I have someone like this in my workplace and it’s been much easier to distance myself from it since our work is a bit more separated than it used to be, so I think that’s an angle worth considering; do you need her to be more collegial and collaborative to feel respected in your role or is a warmer relationship just more of a nice to have?

    1. Lydia*

      She’s not trying to solve it about herself, she’s trying to figure out how to not have to deal with passive-aggressiveness and rudeness at work every day. That is a reasonable thing to want for yourself! She is actively rude to her! It’s not a matter of “gee, it would just be nice if she were nicer to me” it is literally a matter of not working in an environment where someone is crappy towards you and shooting down your ideas in meetings.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I agree it’s very reasonable, and absolutely needs solving and I don’t think my comment was clear enough that my suggestion is to look at how closely the roles interact when solving it. I wasn’t saying that I doubt that the coworker needs to be collegial, (she absolutely does!) and I wasn’t saying that wanting a collegial colleague is a fluffy concern, but to work out how collegial they need to be based on the interaction of the two roles. I found this very difficult to solve when I worked closely with an uncollegial person, but easier when I worked less closely. In short, it was separating the roles and speaking to others for collaboration it that resolved it for me. I don’t encounter the rudeness much, because I don’t encounter the colleague much now. Avoidance is not always necessary, so when approaching a higher up with this stuff it’s good to have thought out the ideal interaction between roles, as well as making the obvious point about another person’s basic professionalism.

  30. Lacey*

    I’ve had coworker clashes before and yeah, it’s usually not about you. Though sometimes?

    Like the first one wasn’t about me at all. The office had reorged everything, ruined my coworkers job and given the part she liked to me. She hated me. But it was really about how they changed her job, not me.

    The second one, I honestly never figured out. I made a remark one day about an office perk I enjoyed – and I could see from the expression on her face that it deeply offended her. It seemed innocuous, but she treated me poorly for 8 years. Every now and again she’d realize she had crossed a line and would be super nice for 2 weeks.

    And one for me being the baddy – we hired a new guy and he LOVED to tell fart jokes. All day long, farts and poop and gas. I would be irritated every time he told one, which was just all the time, and I knew he couldn’t figure out why – but how do you tell a grown man to stop talking about farts? Eventually the jokes tapered off and we had a friendly working relationship.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’d… find it pretty easy to tell a grown man to stop talking about farts in the office? That’s so juvenile and inappropriate in most professional workplaces that it’s easy to address. Heck, that one I could even frame as doing him a favor by keeping him from embarrassing himself in front of someone or stunting his own professional opportunities.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. Although this is purely hypothetical because I’ve never encountered anyone who’d tell fart jokes at work. And I find fart and poop jokes absolutely hilarious in the right company. They’re pretty much my favorite type of humor, just behind puns and dirty limericks. Out of those, only puns, with some exceptions, are appropriate at work.

      2. Lacey*

        Well, this was when I was in my 20s and he was probably in his 50s.
        Also, the rest of the office seemed to find the jokes charming, so I would have been very much alone in voicing my objections.

  31. Elle*

    I was in this position and tried to ignore it until it became obvious to my team that there was an issue. My coworker embarrassed me in a meeting in a way that made others uncomfortable. I alerted my manager (who was not at the meeting) and then spoke to my coworker, using the specific example of what occurred in the meeting. She apologized and things have gotten a little better. She even apologized to the staff that were at the meeting.

  32. Office Cheetos*

    This sounds like someone projecting their insecurities on to you, OP. You can do nothing or you can openly call it out professionally because you are co-workers, presumably on the same team and there is no I in team.

    She shuts you down in a meeting.
    Do you mind expanding on that and providing your own detailed approach?

    She sends you a job posting.
    Oh thank you for thinking of me, however none of my current friends are looking for a new start right now.

    She’s cold to you while warm to someone else.
    I’ve noticed you have taken a different tone/approach with Mildred in your response. Is there something I can do to receive a more positive response?

    Calling out the behavior when it happens will go a long way to letting her know you do not find her treatment of you acceptable and you are setting boundaries that you expect and will give professional behavior. I’ve coached many younger employees to advocate for themselves with this approach.

  33. KatKatKatKat*

    My vote is to say something! In the future, she might mistreat someone else, and that person may not be as strong as you are! She seems like a bully and no one at work deserves to be bullied – say something to stand up for yourself and for the future targets of her rudeness.

  34. Aurora Borealis*

    Some people are just unkind. They are ‘happiest’ when they can make others miserable and uncomfortable. I have worked with a few people like this and this individual may be one of them. Don’t take it personally, move on and be happy with yourself and your work.

    1. Lenore*

      …and what – hope that co-worker doesn’t ruin LW’s reputation? Stand by as co-worker bully others?

      I can’t believe the “Oh, well, haters gonna hate” yawning indifference in some of the comments. Did y’all even read the LW’s letter?

      Because I thought bullying was a bad thing. Huh. Guess I was wrong.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I’m with you, this is borderline. If she’s looking for every possible opportunity to attack OP in public and point out her mistakes and snap at her, that’s Really Not Good.

  35. Momma Bear*

    I found out after the fact that a client team actually didn’t like me…when I’d tried to be friendly and collaborative.

    I would focus on the things that impact your job – like being shut down in a meeting. Either talk to her or your shared boss about what you observe the next time it happens or speak up and be assertive about finishing your thought. You might also ask a colleague if they see it and if so, would they be willing to speak up if they are in the meeting. Sometimes all it takes is one, “So as OP was saying…please continue….” to shut someone up. When she nitpicks call her on it. “Thank you for your feedback but I’m going to keep it my way.” Or “I appreciate you finding the typo, but I’m confused about how upset you seem. Is there something else about this project I should know?” Document what and where you need to (like if you don’t make a change) so you can discuss it with your boss later if need be.

    You can also try gray-rocking her. As in give her very little ammo and be very boring to her.

    You simply aren’t going to mesh with everyone. My guess is also that she’s used to being the shining young star and you threaten that. I’d focus on being professional.

  36. Olive*

    Consider thinking through her behaviors and splitting the professional from the personal.

    Shutting you down during meetings? That’s a professional problem. Good advice already about asking your manager for advice or calmly pushing back a little.

    Replying with one word answers when you try to make small talk? Having a rude tone in emails? Unless she’s said or written something that’s clearly threatening or giving you work-related misinformation, let it go. It sucks, but it doesn’t sound like it’s technically impeding your work. And she’s allowed to shut down small talk; she’s not allowed to sabotage your work.

    This way when you need to address her behavior, it will be a straightforward story of “I am trying to do my work to the best of my ability and Jane has prevented that by X, Y, and Z”, no complaints about rudeness or disinterest in socializing.

  37. OhNoYouDidn't*

    When I was about 20 (I looked 15), I worked in a restaurant where I was continually praised for my work, offered raises, and even offered a position in the business end of the company. However, I found out that one manager didn’t like me and would make disparaging remarks about me to other staff members, often in staff meetings before the restaurant opened. I made an appt. to speak with him privately, and asked him if there was something I had done that made him distrust me. I said I wanted to fix it because I wanted to do a good job. He was SHOCKED, mentioned a time I thought I’d be late and had called in to say so (I was actually on-time), and he took that to mean I was always late (I never was). When I addressed that, there was nothing else. He said it took a lot of guts and he thanked me for bringing it up. The key was I was careful to put the blame on myself and didn’t accuse him of being an unprofessional jerk. He saved face, and I never had another problem with him again. I think naming it head-on can be the way to go.

  38. Former Retail Lifer*

    Years ago, I worked with a woman who I instantly did not get along with, and the feeling was mutual. We just had very different personalities that clashed. We were as polite as we needed to be, but said nothing extra than was needed. However, we worked together often and couldn’t avoid each other. One day, we finally got into an argument. I can’t remember what it was about, but afterwards, the air was clear and we were completely cool with each other from then on. I ALMOST recommend getting into an argument since it worked so well for me!

    1. Six Degrees Now*

      Interesting, I don’t know if I’d recommend it myself, but at a former job I lost my temper at a manager — not my manager but someone senior to me I had to work closely with — after he blew up at me (a common occurrence at that point). He had been a Marine and hard to please. After that we were good. He seemed to respect me and praised me often afterward.

  39. tb3*

    I had a mentor once who told me “if someone is doing something that doesn’t seem to make sense, then there is a piece of information that you don’t have.” When I was dealing with an inexplicably irate colleague, I took that to heart. I took her to lunch and I just asked her. She explained her reactions (which were actually more about my job title than about me) and then we agreed that she would address issues with me privately in the future, instead of in a “reply all” message. It almost became a joke between us: “this is my routine rebellion message” “I acknowledge your protest, but please do the thing anyway.” “Got it.”
    In any case, I’m in the ‘have a conversation with her’ camp.

    1. BeenThere*

      She’s being rude, no doubt, but maybe there IS something you’re doing (maybe inadvertently? Maybe that no one but a peer would know about) that drives her bananas or makes her work much harder. I know you asked for feedback but maybe naming the problem will jolt her into realizing that, if she wants you to do something differently, she’s gonna have to communicate with you. Or, as others suggest, if there’s actually nothing she wants you to do differently, then it will make her realize that her rudeness has crossed a line into reflecting poorly on her.

  40. Enn Pee*

    I was in a similar situation. The coworker refused to acknowledge my existence in the hallway or in meetings, except when she’d actively work to undermine me, question every little thing, etc. We did not have the same manager and ODDLY she behaved the same way towards my manager.

    The woman who’d previously held my position told me to give this lady frequent (undeserved) compliments. She’d been in the position for 10 years, and only after 3-4 years of active sucking up would this coworker actually talk to her (!!!!). I felt lying for the better part of a decade was not going to be an option for me.

    (Oddly, just as in your case, she was REALLY FRIENDLY to a whole bunch of people and had friends in upper management, so I knew it was her. She could choose to be civil, and was making an active decision to NOT be civil with me.)

    Ultimately, I left that job, and she was a big reason why. My boss mentioned the bad behavior to the coworker’s boss numerous times, but there was always some excuse about her bad childhood (no joke) or that I didn’t send her something (that I did send her and had proof that I sent her). My boss left, and I left.

    One thing I’ve done that has worked in the past, when someone is being unnecessarily critical or rude, is to just not talk. If I’m in the middle of my sentence, I won’t continue. I’ll let things be awkward. I think this would be helpful, especially if your boss is there.

    And…finally…when she sends you a job posting, I’d say, “Yes, that job looks right up your alley! I agree, you should apply for it!”

  41. Anony4738*

    Been in your shoes and also on the other end! Was a few years out of college when they hired a new college grad on the same team as me. We clashed a lot and I didnt like anything about her. She had that competitive attitude and wanted to outdo all of my projects even though I was a level 2. I’m pretty sure it was bc as Allison stated, we were both young and new to the workforce and she wanted to advance to a level 2 so there was some jealousy there.

  42. Vespa*

    Confession time. I’ve been the rude coworker. New coworker comes, and everyone loves her, and she tries extra hard to be super nice to me.

    The reality is… I cannot stand her. She is bubbly and nice, but she cuts everyone off when they are speaking only to repeat what they said and agree with them (ugh – just let them finish) or even complete what they are saying in order to show she is aligned…except she doesn’t listen fully and can’t wait until someone is done speaking so she completes it wrong. (Imagine something like someone saying “I had a lovely weekend because…” *coworker interrupts* “oh yeah, you went to the movies, right, that’s fantastic” “uh, no I spent time with my nieces”).

    She also seems fake to me all the time (everything is great and fantastic, and everyone is awesome, which I personally think is impossible). Meanwhile, I really value authenticity, deep listening, and directness. I like people who share their vulnerabilities and their truth, and who are brave enough to disagree with you.

    While everyone in my team really loves her, I cannot get over how much I dislike interacting with her. I’m the first person to admit she does a good job; there’s nothing inherently wrong with her. I try to be polite and nice to her, but when I am exhausted or she’s interrupted me a few too many times I can admit I’ve been rude (I apologize later). I wish I could keep my composure all the time, but interacting with her requires way too many spoons that sometimes I just don’t have. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t understand how, being so lovely and so loved by anyone else, her personality is infinitely grating to me.

    Obviously OP, I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here… but it’s one possibility. (I never implied she should look for a job elsewhere though…she’s good for our company and I’m grown up enough to recognize that!)

    1. Super Fun*

      I’ve dealt with similar things. The coworker who is technically nice but will ask you a question (How’s your family doing?) knowing that manners will compel you to ask her about hers…at which point you’re locked into a ten minute conversation you predicted but couldn’t avoid. Sometimes you know that certain people are prone to trapping you in interactions where you never get to say what you want or finish a sentence, while this other person is using you as a sounding board for information that you’re not interested in.

      Or. OP admits she’s a favorite of the boss. There’s not much to do about that and she probably wouldn’t want to disrupt that, but it’s really not hard to figure out why a coworker would be annoyed by that, as well as by OP’s insisting that she couldn’t identify even one of the issues. If you’re liked and successful, other people might be turned off.

      1. Super Fun*

        I don’t understand this insistence that some of us are incapable of observing how others move through the world and drawing valid conclusions. Someone who makes a show of being a conversationalist while constantly interrupting and always needing to own every utterance is rightly annoying and isn’t actually furthering any interactions, because she’s not truly interested in what other people are saying. I’ve known a whole lot of bubbly people who cultivated that personality type as a cover for wanting to talk but not wanting to listen. It doesn’t make them bad people. It means that when they approach my desk, I already know that they’re going to talk at me and then walk away before I get a chance to talk. That’s not awesome, even when that person is wearing a smile the whole time.

        1. sagc*

          This seems like it’s not *particularly* similar to what the OP is seeing; someone being annoying doesn’t mean you can be unprofessional back.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          This particular conversational tactic received a decent amount of discussion on a post here once – I read it exactly like you do and hate being talked over/interrupted, but there are apparently a significant number of people who find it totally normal if you chime in your agreement and help finish people’s sentences (possibly rude or with awkward silences if you don’t). It is totally foreign to me (and I hate it), but it’s a style called “cooperative overlapping”.

          My younger child also does this to me all the damn time (and is rarely right about what I was going to say), but they have ADHD, and we’re working on it.

          1. Vespa*

            Never heard of it before (I don’t read the discussion here regularly) – this is an interesting concept to learn about, thanks!

          2. Super Fun*

            I think the “cooperative” part is key. That’s not what’s happening when someone interrupts you to finish your sentence incorrectly and then proceeds to veer into a monologue about herself.

            I feel like “cooperative overlapping” is one of those concepts that’s likely to get hijacked by the wrong group of people.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. When cooperative overlapping works, it works well. It’s not intuitive for me, because I’m from a culture where people take turns and interrupting someone else is the height of rudeness, only acceptable in genuine emergencies or when someone’s been talking for far too long and doesn’t throw the conversational ball to anyone else.

              But when I lived in France, I had to learn cooperative overlapping. Once I did, my interpersonal relationships with French people improved immeasurably. Some foreigners from a take-turns culture never got the knack, even when they spoke French as or more fluently than I did.

              But cooperative overlapping definitely isn’t an excuse to take over a conversation, you interrupt to show the person who’s speaking that you’re engaged in what they’re saying, and then you let them continue.

    2. Nesprin*

      I have also been the rude coworker.
      She stole quite a bit of my work, received recognition for things I did and was offered opportunities that I had wanted. Management considered this an ‘interpersonal thing’ instead of misconduct and tried to send us to mediation with a therapist. I could manage civil on a good day.

    3. JelloStapler*

      Oh my God I had a coworker like that. Got to the point where I would stop talking and say “Go ahead then”. Person finally got called on the carpet after years of making excuses for not doing her job… I still shudder when I think of it.

    4. Blank*

      Same here, sort of, I’ve been the one with a coworker who thought it was cool and edgy to subtly belittle me, my choices, and things I enjoyed (work trip to a famous European city? she asked me how it was, and when I made positive noises she replied derisively that actually, she’d never seen such a filthy place. okay!) – after several months of this I couldn’t take it any more and stopped interacting when I could avoid it. We still work together, but her email style and personality (fun! perky! vivacious! but in a strained way) annoy multiple coworkers… Her manager thinks she’s great and we’ve all got bigger things to focus on, but yeah, sometimes you don’t gel with people.

    5. AnxietyRobot*

      I had a co-worker once who disliked me for the exact same reasons! I always wished there was a professional way to tell her that my enthusiasm was because the last few years of my life had been filled with extreme tragedy (death, illness, poverty, serious crimes) and that the job that I worked so hard to get and really loved was the one bright spot in a world of shit. But unlike her, I actually understood that part of being a professional is not bringing your personal burdens to work!

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        Yes! I am purposefully positive and bubbly. I’ve had a crappy last 5 years and intentionally choose to broadcast positive vibes in the workplace. I honestly don’t understand those who choose to be negative.

      2. Vespa*

        There’s a big difference between being enthusiastic and happy (most of my coworkers are happy, well adjusted, nice people!) and being over the top bubbly, glossing over any issues or problems as if they didn’t exist (I am not referring to personal burdens – just work setbacks etc). Toxic positivity exists, and it can indeed be toxic. It is very dismissive of other’s realities or struggles and encourages everyone to not bring their true authentic selves to work, or to admit when there’s something we disagree with or are unhappy with.

  43. Observer*

    OP, I sympathize with you. But unless her behavior crosses a line – she puts you down in front of clients, won’t give you stuff you need to get your work or is egregiously / clearly rude – you can’t really go to your manager about this. And even then, your best first step is going to be to talk to her, especially for the rudeness.

    Not everyone is going to like you. It stinks. But as long as you make sure that your work and behavior are appropriate, there is often not much you can do about it.

    1. sagc*

      This seems entirely unrelated to the content of the letter? There is a level of rudeness/tearing coworkers down that is worth bringing to the manager, and it sounds like the coworker is crossing it.

      Seriously – if there was one coworker who always criticized you for doing things differently, shut down your ideas, and behaved significantly more rudely to you than *every other coworker*… You’d see it as a problem with your own wanting to be liked?

      1. Lydia*

        Right?! PEOPLE OF THE COMMENTS someone not being rude to you on the daily is the barest minimum ask whether they like you or not. The OP doesn’t actually care if Prunella Pigsnout likes her, she just wants the minimum of politeness and a modicum of respect when she interacts with this person, which she is currently not getting any of. She would like her ideas heard instead of shut down immediately, she would like a basic sentence instead of a terse one-word response. She would like not to be sent job announcements to leave under the guise of “in case your friends need jobs.” It is not at all complicated!

        1. Irish Teacher*

          We once had a priest phrase it in his sermon as “you can’t love everybody but you can be kind to everybody.” In the workplace, I guess this would translate as “you can’t love everybody but you can behave professionally towards everybody and treat them with respect.”

          It sounds like the LW’s coworker is not being respectful and professional and that is the problem. They don’t have to like the LW and I didn’t get the impression that the LW is expecting everybody to like them, but if she is putting down the LW’s ideas in meetings and criticising the LW for minor mistakes, then it is affecting work or at least workplace relations and it’s not just a case of the LW getting the impression she doesn’t like them. Being polite and not interacting much is one thing, being critical of somebody and putting them down is another altogether.

          1. Observer*

            I agree. The thing that people seem to be overlooking is that the fact that CW is absolutely misbehaving does not necessarily mean that the OP has a lot of options for some of this behavior.

            One thing I should have said is that the OP would be perfectly in place to shut down CW when she tries to criticize LW for not doing things the way CW would. And she should definitely feel free to push back when CW tries to shoot down her ideas in meetings.

        2. Observer*

          She would like her ideas heard instead of shut down immediately

          And there is no reason that the OP can’t push back on that. And if that doesn’t work, then that is something she can take to her boss.

          She would like not to be sent job announcements to leave under the guise of “in case your friends need jobs.”

          Which is totally reasonable. And if it were the CW who were writing in, I would tell her to cut out the juvenile and obvious garbage. But that doesn’t mean that it’s something that the OP can really do much about.

      2. Observer*

        Did you read what I wrote?

        I’m not defending the CW. And I don’t think that the LW is wrong in not liking what’s happening. I’m re-reading what I wrote, and don’t see how you get there.

        But right now, the LW can’t go to her boss. She CAN push back in the moment when CW does stuff like (try) to shut her down in meetings or call out rudeness. And if the CW starts doing things that keep the OP from getting her work done, can affect her professionally or are obviously egregious, then she can go to her boss with the specifics.

        But as much as the CW’s behavior is problematic, it still remains true that there is often not a lot the LW can do about some of it unless the CW crosses more “bright” lines.

  44. Kiwi Leslie Knope*

    One lesson that is important to learn and that many people never do…. Not everyone is going to like you and sometimes there is actually nothing you can do about it. It can be quite freeing actually once you accept it! As long as you keep being professional, then you can feel comfortable with yourself. She’s the one in the wrong here.

    1. Lydia*

      The OP doesn’t care if her colleague likes her. She cares that because her colleague doesn’t like her, it means she’s rude and unprofessional to her. That’s the whole of the letter.

      1. Dinwar*

        This. I don’t care if people like me or not. I don’t particularly like some of the people I work with. But I’m professional and polite to them at work, and they’re professional and polite to me. It doesn’t matter what I think of their personal lives, or whether we’re friends, or even if we like each other. How we act towards each other is the relevant thing.

        This is the absolute bare minimum one should expect from coworkers, or indeed anyone one is interacting with in a professional capacity.

        Rudeness is more than an inconvenience. It can disrupt someone’s work in gross and subtle ways. It creates roadblocks to project completion where there don’t need to be, and can cause the victim to lose opportunities for promotions and career growth. Any time spent dealing with the rude person’s antics is time away from one’s primary role.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Hey, if I can manage to be polite with my former bully (who probably tried to get me canned) and vice versa over email/in public once in awhile, this lady’s snitty coworker can suck it up.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        You’re doing a lot in this comment section, and I see you and appreciate it. :)

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, this. OP’s work is suffering because of it. Colleague is free to dislike her, in private, on her own time. The team’s productivity will be taking a hit from colleague’s actions too, if it hasn’t already. I mean, when one member cannot speak up in meetings without being shut down, isn’t the end result that the team doesn’t get to hear this member’s suggestions and solutions?

    2. Office Cheetos*

      It’s about being treated civilly and respectfully AT WORK.

  45. Somehow_I_Manage*

    It’s hard to resist the urge to answer “why does my coworker hate me?” It’s awfully easy to speculate! But end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.

    Sometimes part of our job is dealing with unpleasant people. It drives me crazy, because you would think if you extend someone the courtesy of kindness, that they would indulge you by not being a jerk. But that’s just how it goes.

    In my experience though, if they’re this kind of person to you, they’re likely unpleasant around other people. That kind of thing wears thin and has an expiration date…you’re likely to outlast them.

    1. sagc*

      The LW directly disagrees with your last paragraph, for the record – they’re polite to other people, and I’m not sure it’s fair to say “just pay your dues (allow someone to be shitty to you) until they’re nice”.

      And I disagree with your second one. There are bounds of what you should be expected to deal with, and most jobs actually don’t have as part of their criteria “deal with all unpleasant people without trying to address it” – especially not professional office jobs.

  46. Silicon Valley Purgatory*

    I would bet a substantial sum of money that something about you makes her deeply insecure. That’s why nobody else but you is seeing the behavior — on some level she knows that if others saw her being rude/cold to you, it would do two things: 1) put her insecurity on display; 2) show everyone that the way she handles a “her” problem is to blame someone else instead of working on her maturity. She’s just savvy enough to know that’s a bad look. In addition to any other qualities you have that may make her feel threatened, if you’re both women, I’m betting you’re more attractive than she is (perhaps in a way that’s not obvious to you but it a constant poke in an open wound, to her). I’m an old lady now and have seen a lot of this — I have never seen a woman behave in the ways you’re describing, if the “rival” isn’t conventionally attractive. Which is totally crappy on so many levels. It’s doesn’t seem to matter if the boss is a single/dates women, because it’s not about sexual rivalry, it’s the toxic internalized belief that beauty = value.

    You’ve mentioned that your boss loves this person. I think that merits real caution on your part. I’d just be so nice and uber-competent that if she ever tries to complain about you, she’ll be the one who looks like her judgement is questionable.

  47. Bad Wolf*

    I was a few days late to start my graduate program. I was finishing up a job and couldn’t be there for orientation. So my cohort all met each other before they met me. There was one woman who, for some mysterious reason, just took a massive dislike to me. I literally heard her scoff under her breath when I spoke. We were a small group of 6, and we were about to spend the next 3 years together. Often working on joint projects. I had to do something.
    So the first time we were all about to spent a late night getting a presentation ready, I told her (didn’t ask) to come with me to pick up some takeout for everyone. We just drove in the car, talked about nothing in particular, got back, and fed everyone. I didn’t confront her. I just acted like of course we were going to become friends. And that was it. She completely changed her attitude. We ended up becoming best friends.
    Years later, when I mentioned her initial reaction to me, she couldn’t even remember why. We still laugh about it – that the shortest way to her heart is through her stomach.

  48. RLC*

    It could be some unique bias the colleague has against people from a particular city, state or region. I’ve experienced mysterious instantaneous dislike from colleagues and eventually discovered that they felt strongly about the morals of my home state (known for legal gaming, etc). Can’t help where I’m from, but I lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out the root of the dislike.

  49. Betsy S.*

    It might be helpful to focus on the behavior in meetings, because that’s something that is going to be visible to others.

    The next time this person is blunt in a meeting, and it seems uncalled for, follow up. Depending on the circumstance, you could politely ask for clarification of what the issue is with your suggestion or ask that the idea be reviewed before it is dismissed. And/or, ask your manager or other senior person afterwards what they thought of your idea, in a tone of genuinely wanting feedback.

    If you do this a couple times, it will quietly bring the pattern to their attention without your ever having to get into personalities. Or, you may learn something that improves your participation in meetings .

  50. Budgie Buddy*

    In situations like I’m this I always wonder what’s going on in the heads of the bystanders. Do they not notice that the coworker is being mean for no reason and just feel too uncomfortable to say anything? Do they just not care? Do they not want to put a target on their own backs?

    Not sure how this changes the advice. It might be worth confiding in a trusted coworker and see if you get a response that narrows down these possibilities. Even if you have one person who will say “Huh OP’s plan seems fine to me – tell us more, OP” that can greatly change the dynamic.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I suspect in at least some cases they feel they don’t have the full story. Now, obviously some behaviours are unacceptable regardless of context, but it sounds like this coworker might be being just subtle enough that it’s unclear whether they just happen to disagree with this idea or the LW just has made a mistake that caused them a lot of hassle or if there is something more going on unless you see the full pattern.

      Especially given that coworker is apparently really nice to everybody else, I’m guessing that if they do notice anything, it’s “huh, coworker doesn’t seem to like LW much. There must have been some row or something between them.” They may even assume it’s a mutual thing as some of the things the coworker is zoning in on – situations where the LW has a different approach from their’s, etc – could sound more like a disagreement than one person picking on another if you didn’t have the full context.

    2. Observer*

      Sometimes it’s not clear to people around what is going on or how to reasonably intervene.

      But if that’s the case, people are not going to be taken aback if the LW, for instance, turns to other people and explicitly ask “What do you think of my idea?” when CW tries to shut LW down. And it’s going to be much harder for the CW to push back on someone higher in the hierarchy responding reasonably and thoughtfully to the LW.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Avoiding the target on their own backs, definitely. We have scapegoats and buttmonkeys for a reason–if one of those people is taken out, the bully looks for fresh meat.

  51. NeedRain47*

    I have a coworker (who wanted the job I got) who has been like this for FIVE AND A HALF years. In the past couple months she has voluntarily spoken to me a few times and honestly it scares me every time b/c I’m so used to being solidly ignored.

    I did end up having to address it with my supervisor b/c she saw it as me being unfriendly instead of “Needrain can’t socialize with coworkers because hostile person is hostile”.

  52. Ilyasaurus*

    Back in the Stone Age, in high school, a classmate HATED me. HAAAATED me. I tried killing with kindness, asking mutual friends if they knew what was up, nothing changed. I was called from the classroom for a routine thing, and she yelled “don’t come back! No one wants you here!” Which is the most boring zinger I can imagine.

    In that moment, something broke. I’m very nonconfrontational, but I just reached my limit. I turned around in the doorway and said very calmly and loud enough for the entire class to hear “Bully, I think I’ve done something to make you mad. I’m not sure what it was, and I WOULD like to fix it, but I can’t unless you tell me what I did. I am sorry for whatever it was.”

    She turned an interesting shade of fluorescent while our classmates stared at her, but she left me alone after that.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I got yelled at with “You don’t belong in this school!” in first grade and I had no comeback. Good for you for having one!

    2. allathian*

      I bet it was the comeback that did it. Some people simply can’t stand anyone who’s non-confrontational. They’re usually the ones who go through life picking fights with others, usually for totally trivial reasons. But they’ll usually back down if you give as good as you get. I was very non-confrontational as a teen, although I’ve learned to stand up for myself, and especially for other people I care about, in the decades since.

  53. Turingtested*

    I’ve been in that situation a few times. I tend towards civility and nothing more. Whatever the cause is it’s a sign of immaturity not to treat people equally because of an unfounded personal dislike.

  54. Lilas*

    It seems like you’re still holding out hope of becoming close or friendly with her, which is why this is still hurting you so much. After this long and this obvious of rudeness, you should not only adjust how likely you think that outcome is (and therefore how fervently you’re hoping for it), but also should adjust how much you want it: even if she’s not rude to anyone else on earth, she’s still rude to you and that matters enough to devalue how much you should want her friendship (or the workplace equivalent).

    If you adjust your desire to “her being neutral to you” instead of “her being nice”, fewer things will hurt as much or feel as personal. But you’ll still be emotionally in a position to call out/push back against things like her shutting you down or highlighting your mistakes.

    This way, if/when you confront her, the tone is less “But why don’t you like me?” And more, “Hey, whatever your problem is with me, you need to keep it to yourself and treat me decently at work.”

    As a bonus, if she’s doing things like sending the job posting in order to psych you out or hurt your feelings, it won’t be effective and she might not get the satisfaction anyway.

    Whatever it is that’s making her dislike you, (barring some elaborate sitcom-style misunderstanding where you said something she misheard as something terrible and you have no idea), it almost certainly does not warrant the way she’s treating you. If it was more than annoyance or something at that level, bad enough to warrant this long of targeted coldness, it was also enough that she should have talked to you (or your boss) about it by now.

  55. MeepMeep123*

    I’d wonder if there’s bigotry of some kind involved. Do you look like a member of a marginalized group of some kind? Did you say anything that could be interpreted as allegiance to a particular group? Do you know anything about the coworker’s political, religious, or ideological leanings?

    1. Daffodil*


      I am the LW. While that’s a valid suggestion, I am a white woman so I don’t suspect a bias. As far as political views go, I am left-leaning but I avoid discussing politics at work.

      1. Observer*

        Well, it could be other things. Sometimes nationality (real or perceived) can come up. Or if you (look like) you have more money, went to a more prestigious school, have a religious leaning that she doesn’t lie, or whatever, these things could be an issue.

        In other words, it could still be bigotry, just of a different sort.

  56. Anne Wentworth*

    But if this widely respected coworker is shutting down all LW’s ideas in meetings, with even a fraction of the rudeness from their personal emails, wouldn’t that have a negative impact on LW’s standing in the team and how everyone else sees them? And if this peer is regularly sending job ads in the hopes that LW will leave in addition to undermining them at meetings, doesn’t it follow that she’ll eventually take more significant action to get rid of LW? I’m baffled by Alison’s nonchalance about this one.

  57. BellyButton*

    I am curious if men get told that another man doesn’t like them because they are threatened by them? In my 25 yrs in the professional workforce anytime there is a woman who doesn’t like another woman that is always the first thing that someone says. It irks me! As Alison listed there are a million reasons why someone might not like you.

    1. Book lover*

      There are a million reasons why someone might not like you, but my observation of work conflicts between two men is that a huge percentage are due to insecurity or feeling threatened!

    2. Dinwar*

      This absolutely happens. I’ll grant that there is a richer vocabulary for ways in which men behave badly and are cruel to one another in the professional world, so other terms are often used, but men are accused of professional jealousy, being threatened by young upstarts, and the like. “He just feels threatened” is especially common when the person the man doesn’t get along with is a woman.

  58. BellyButton*

    Alison, I think you missed a few things that could be addressed- like how LW should handle being shut down in the meeting by this person and how to handle being sent a job posting. Being shut down in a meeting, and not standing up for herself can affect the perceptions of her other coworkers and her manager.

    1. Observer*

      like how LW should handle being shut down in the meeting by this person

      I think that’s a good point. My feeling is that as soon as the CW starts, the OP should turn to someone (or the group) and say something like “What do you think about this?” Which is professional and makes it clear that CW is not the person running the meeting, nor is she talking for the group.

      how to handle being sent a job posting.

      Pretend it didn’t happen. If CW is stupid enough to follow up, a bored “Oh, I was too busy to pay any attention to that.” would probably be exactly what the CW would NOT want to hear. Which is exactly what you want.

      1. BellyButton*

        I am pretty direct when things like that happen to me or someone else. “I appreciate that you might not think that is a good idea, but I would like to hear from others and flesh it out a bit more.”

  59. Book lover*

    If it’s true that the coworker is threatened by you (and it sounds like it is), do something to explicitly support her. When she makes a truly good point in a meeting, publicly give her props for it. (Or stand up for her if she is being unfairly attacked in a meeting.) When she does something that makes your work easier or better, publicly thank her. When she deserves credit for good work, make sure your voice is one of the ones giving it to her.

    Don’t hide or lessen your own achievements, just become her cheerleader for a little bit. We all should cheer for our coworkers, anyway.

    1. Book lover*

      I realized that answer doesn’t cover how to respond to her negative behavior, such as being shut down in a meeting: immediately in the moment, calmly, gracefully, and firmly.

      “Hold on. I’m still sharing my thoughts.”

  60. raida*

    I would add to the options – start recording it all.
    Not as in AV recording, just writing it down.

    A date and a time and as dispassionate a description as you can manage.

    You may find that it’s actually infrequent but you *remember* when it happens. You may find that *damn* this is frequent.

    If it’s the former, you’ll be able to focus on remembering everything else in her interactions with you so that it’s over time just an occasional thing.

    If it’s the latter, you’ll be able to talk to your boss, and preface it with “I don’t want you to jump to the defence of someone that it appears you really favour, I need you as my manager to objectively listen to me and consider the situation on a basis of “Is this unprofessional behaviour and do I want my staff to represent me like this?”
    Since I started here, [person] has been more than standoffish towards me and only me.
    Here’s some figures since I’ve started noting it down, the idea of recording these interactions was for me to see if it’s actually rare but I’m remembering the unhappy moments.
    Interrupted me in a meeting: x times
    Told me I’d done a task incorrectly when it wasn’t incorrect: x times
    Jumped on an idea of mine to discredit it: x times
    Criticized me: x times
    Criticized my work: x times
    Tone in emails to me only that are rude: x times
    Sent me job openings at other businesses: x times

    Now I feel like this could be a big range of things – competitive nature, an internal assumption she’s my superior at work, a preference to be in charge and give instructions, I remind her of a person she hates, my voice is annoying, I did something on the first day that she didn’t like, a rigid approach where if there’s A solution is *should be* THE solution, the freedom to not “suck up” to an equal or lower, someone told her I hated her…
    I’m not her close friend, or someone professionally she’d listen to, I have no way to ascertain what the underlying issue is here.

    But I feel like since you like [person], and I’m a valued staff member too, you’d want to know about this so that I’m not being undercut and they aren’t making themselves look bad in meetings. But hey, if you like competition and a bit of cut-throat in the office, I’d like to know about that because it’d be the first I’d’ve heard of it, so I could professionally and adequately respond when challenged in meetings like this, knowing it’s at your direction.

    I haven’t brought this up previously because I figured after a while it’d get better – it’s not, it’s worse.
    I haven’t brought this up since I realised it won’t get better because you appear to just love [person] and I worried you’d respond by attacking me, brushing it off, protecting them, because I just don’t have a gauge at this stage in my career on judging any manager’s approach to issues that aren’t illegal or a failure to do work.
    I hope you don’t feel like I’ve judged you too harshly by waiting this long, I was just worried about what could happen.”

    1. chickenfeet*

      I like this script. I’d leave out the bit about “hey if you like it cutthroat” because that reads as a backhanded insult of the manager.

  61. Pudding*

    I don’t think I showed it, but I once had a colleague on another team who I irrationally disliked because he strongly reminded me of friend’s smarmy ex-husband. The resemblance was pretty close but the gestures, vocal patterns, etc were SPOT ON. It was like having Friend’s Ex in my office wearing a weird wig and pretending to be someone else. I tried really hard to ignore it and be warm and friendly, but it was so odd.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I had a good friend in graduate school with whom I immediately noticed something odd: we were NOT the least bit tactful with each other. If he was irritating me or vice versa, there was no veneer of politeness between us. It was quite awhile before we figured it out. I reminded him of his sister, and he reminded me of my brother. Oh well. It was pretty funny after that.

  62. Mark*

    I faced a similar situation in my last job. I finally (after a few weeks) asked my boss if he know why this co-worker always acted like he didn’t like me. I found out it was because the previous person to have my position was his best friend. My boss’s guess was that anyone who would have taken this position would have been ostracized by this co-worker. Now that I knew the reason, it really didn’t bother me for the remainder of my two years there.

    1. BellyButton*

      2 years! I bet by then he couldn’t even remember why he didn’t like you, he just knew he didn’t. LOL

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I moved into a college dorm after a semester away. The girl who lived there before had a boyfriend who did delivery for the local liquor store … so was quite popular as drinking age had just switched to 21.

      They hated me just for moving into an empty room. (I don’t know where the other person went.)

      They later hated me for reasons of my identity, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  63. Maza*

    Is the LW a man? If so, is he aware of what sexism in this workplace looks like? While ideally it shouldn’t make any difference, if he is male, his female coworker may have legitimate concerns about being undermined.

    1. Snell*

      The coworker is undermining LW. Is that supposed to be preemptive undermining? Coworker is concerned LW will undermine her, so she undermines LW first? At best, that makes for a dysfunctional workplace. Your comment is entirely speculation based on nothing that was ever described in the letter. Also, LW has already identified as a woman while responding to comments (under the name “Daffodil”).

    2. Observer*

      if he is male, his female coworker may have legitimate concerns about being undermined.

      Really? There is simply nothing in the letter to indicate that. And there is no universe where legitimate worries about sexism are dealt with by being rude, criticizing people for no good reason, trying to keep them from offering their ideas, etc.

      1. Snell*

        I wish to highlight this part:

        “…there is no universe where legitimate worries about sexism are dealt with by being rude, criticizing people for no good reason, trying to keep them from offering their ideas, etc.”

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      To quote Alison, “what the actual fuck?”

      Or maybe, to paraphrase Alison. But whatever—what the actual fuck?

  64. RB*

    This is so, so hard, and I’ve experienced this, where someone just decides they don’t like you and makes it clear that nothing you can do will change that. Sometimes over time they soften, but you can’t count on that. I wish I had better advice, but everything Alison said is good. Good luck!

  65. Sparkles McFadden*

    At the end of my first week at the new job I got when I was 22, a coworker told me exactly why she decided she didn’t like me. (It was a weird jealousy that had more to do with her than with me,) It was not helpful information. I made no attempt to win her over or anything like that. I just figured it was her problem to deal with and you can’t be liked by everyone.

    Just be a professional, LW. Keep doing a good job and let this person deal with her issues. The exception to this is if she is doing things like shutting you down in meetings. Deal with that as you would with any other coworker and say “Hang on and let me finish my thought…”

    The coworker who didn’t like me put a lot of energy into trying to make me look bad. That backfired in a truly spectacular way. Everything she did (complaining to others about me, giving me incorrect information about things, going to the boss) just made her look like an unprofessional crazy person. People would ask “What’s her problem with you?” and I’d get to say “No idea. Say, what about that project you’re working on?” So, it was really kind of professionally helpful. (Cranky coworker ended up quitting to go to grad school.)

  66. Rainbow*

    This is extremely likely not it, but just saying. In grad school, this one guy was horrible to everyone but especially nasty to me. Just a massive, awful jerk. After I left, which was accelerated partly due to him, I found out that he had a weird crush on me, and some short circuit in his brain apparently caused him to act this way because of it?

    Then again there was a guy I seriously couldn’t stand in my last job. He was unbelievably incompetent yet somehow kept being promoted, because if you didn’t know what he was talking about, you could possibly believe he did. Also the way he talked just went right through me. And just kind of the way he held himself and did this annoying fake-polite thing. Everything about him was irritating. I definitely did not fancy him.

  67. CLC*

    I hate to say this but I was in consulting for five years after college and another three after graduate school at a few different firms…it’s an industry that can tend to attract a lot of overly competitive jerks. I’ve honestly been appalled by the way a lot of people behaved at consulting firms. This person might just be one of them. Be polite and friendly but I wouldn’t worry about what she thinks of you. She’s a peer so hopefully she has no influence on your career. Ask your bosses for feedback on your work, not her. Don’t give her anything she could say against you to the higher ups. I honestly would not bother confronting her and just go about your business.

    1. JessicaTate*

      I came to say this, too. What struck me was that it was a consulting firm. While that can mean a lot of things, but some of the big management-focused ones tend to breed that kind of behavior. Approaching it reasonably isn’t likely to help.

      I have a colleague who built a business out of helping people in those environments — with the toxic levels of over-achieving and back-biting — survive, change mindsets, and thrive despite the environment.

      And I might add that part of the book “Machievelli for Women” might be of interest. There’s a chapter about some terrible dynamics between women in the workplace and how to navigate them.

  68. WillowSunstar*

    It would be interesting to see the other side of the story. I once worked with someone who did not fully comprehend the job even 3 years in (and this was data entry, not rocket science). This person repeatedly made easily avoidable mistakes and the boss would not make this person clean them up, I had to. And my coworker probably wondered why I was not super enthusiastic about going to work in that role. But my coworker also did not win any awards, just was allowed to get away with things I never would have been.

  69. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I have no input but am interested in updates. I had a coworker like that. She was nosy and seemed to have no filter. She also seemed to single me out to pick on for no particular reason. Some of OP’s letter sounded familiar, because this CW and I were on the same project for a bit, and every suggestion I made in meetings was met with a frowny face and a “do we have to?” from CW, addressed to the project lead (who thankfully had my back). Or a “what did she say?” It didn’t impede my work a whole lot, as I was 40+ and well into my career. Was honestly kind of amusing to see a grown woman, who had kids in middle school, act like a middle-school bully herself. It was however very annoying and getting in the way of my work. I didn’t take the best approach to this. I kind of ignored her comments, until one day she said something at the wrong time and I snapped and yelled at the CW. She stopped talking to me after that (which honestly felt great) and transferred to another department soon after (hopefully not because of me, but also felt great). Don’t be me, OP. Say something while you can still remain civil, don’t wait for her to push you over the edge.

  70. AGC*

    Depending on how much your boss LOVES her, you may actually have a boss problem.

    At OldJob I had a similar conflict with a same-level colleague. She seemingly decided overnight not to get along with me, not to respect my time or opinions or responsibilities. It was noticeable to at least a couple of people. I set (what I think were) reasonable boundaries and she semi-complied but laughed every time. I never said anything to my boss but I always wondered if she did because it was clear that my boss’s opinion of me deteriorated over time, and eventually was seemingly even worse than Coworker’s.

    All that says, it sounds like your boss and other colleagues are very happy with your work! I honestly hope it stays that way. But when your boss is openly showing that she LOVES some employees (and not others) I think it’s worth keeping an I on.

  71. One HR Opinion*

    TLDR: Talk to your boss :)

    This is hard because some of it may need reframing and some needs a discussion with your boss. First, let me say, that although you perceive her as being Boss’ favorite, this may not be the case. The one our boss seemed to be closest to was one she spent a lot of time with because she needed a lot of coaching and emotional support around professional norms.

    Talk to your boss. Not everyone is going to be friends, but everyone should be friendly and respectful. They honestly may not see what it going on. Consider showing boss some examples of the emails and asking, “This came across as a bit rude to me, but I wanted to get your read on it.” Non-verbal communication is especially tricky. If I write, “Will you make it to the meeting by 8?” That can come off as mean, passive-aggressive, neutral, or even friendly depending on the tone you hear in your head when you read it.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I’d be very cautious about how you talk to your boss, especially if you haven’t talked to your co-worker first. You don’t want to be the person who is seen as not getting along. I think I’m hesitant, simply because I wonder if Jan’s behavior is truly rude and something a boss would want to address or if the OP’s expectations about the relationship with her co-worker is coloring her interpretations.

      However – I think a great place where you COULD talk here would be when she implies that you are doing something wrong when you are just doing something differently. Or how she often shoots down you ideas during meetings. During one of your check-in’s you could mention. “I was talking to Jan the other day and got the impression I was doing sales reports wrong because I wasn’t doing them exactly like she does. Is there a problem with my reports and do I need to adjust my approach?” Or “During the meeting with the Champagne Team, I had several ideas that Jan shot down during the meeting. Can we talk about why they won’t work so I can get better about contributing possible solutions?” That one, gives you useful feedback and two, lets your boss know that Jan might be overstepping.

  72. All Het Up About It*

    So I think I a lot of people have covered the why she maybe doesn’t like you and how to address that. I’m going to join in with those focusing on Additionally, how can I prevent her attitude from bothering me? It hurts because she is the only other person in my office who is around my age, and her behavior towards me has undermined my confidence/morale.

    So 1) I would try and unpack the only one around my own age statement. Were you hoping she would be your work friend and work buddy? It’s totally okay if you were and to feel disappointment around that, but after a year, it’s obviously not going to happen. Find a new work buddy! Just because someone is older than you doesn’t mean you can’t have a friendlier relationship with them etc. Or try and let go of the need of a work buddy and for work relationships to be “Friendly.” If this person does not want to engage in small talk with you, STOP trying to have small talk with her. It’s possible without realizing it you are coming on way to strong with a ‘we work together, have the same title, and are the same age so of COURSE we will be friends’ vibe. And that could be very irritating to a person. I’m not saying for sure that’s it, but that’s why I say unpack your expectations around what you wanted from her because she’s the same age as you.

    2) Related to the last part of that, keep it strictly professional with her. Don’t share anything from your personal life. Don’t get into the small talk. It might seem cold or awkward, but you can have great working relationships with people without knowing everything or really anything about their life outside of the office. Be warm about work. You respect her work, so show her that. Complement her on that. Thank her when she helps you out.

    3) And this is all related to reframing how you view work relationships. You can be warm, kind and professional without being friends. Some people you work with those relationships will carry on past the job, but most won’t. And even fewer will carry on beyond a professional networking type of relationship. That’s FINE. That’s great! You can also use this person of an example of how not be, if you do stumble across someone in your work life that just rubs you the wrong way.

    4) Why does THIS person’s opinion undermine your confidence? It might relate back to what you are unpacking in number one. But also think – her opinion… doesn’t actually matter. Your boss and those above you, those opinions matter. And obviously they think you are doing a great job. Employee of the Quarter! A raise in the first year! You do not have to impress this person. You can admire parts of her work, and still know that she’s not providing you with meaningful or impactful feedback. Find ways to increase your confidence. Be ready to be bold sometimes. Say “Thanks for sharing how you tackle these sales reports, Jan. I think I’ll stick with my method as it works for me and still gets the same results.”

    5) Channel Wednesday Addams and tell yourself “I pretend I don’t care if people dislike me, but secretly I enjoy it.”

    Ultimately this situation gives you a lot of opportunity to fake it until you make it. Fake not caring. Fake your confidence. Fake not wanting to be friends. Sometimes if we pretend something, we are actually practicing and we eventually find out it has become our reality. (This can obviously be a negative in life as well, but in this situation, I think it can benefit you!)

  73. not neurotypical myself*

    One thing that came to my mind was identity. OP doesn’t disclose their own gender or other identity characteristics that might be at play. If OP is male or more privileged in some other way (race, sexual orientation) and immediately begins getting raises and accolades for the same (high) quality of work, that could explain the resentment right there. E.g., bright young guy is hired on. Bright young woman is immediately wary, knowing what usually happens in such situations. Sure enough, he’s employee of the quarter and getting a raise. Nope. He’s not gonna get any friendliness from her, and yes she will be pointing out his shortcomings at every opportunity.

  74. JustMe*

    I have had this happen at a few companies. At one company, I was one of two American women in a certain area (everyone else had immigrated from a different country and it was very much an international office). The other American woman gave me the same treatment you described, and also made a point of not inviting me to after work events (I only found out because my other coworkers would go, “Are you going to Whitney’s thing? We’re all walking over together!”) My fiancée suggested that she was jealous or upset because I had taken her niche, and, to be honest, the longer I spent there the more I began to believe it was true. She had grown up in Europe, where she was always seen as special because she was “the American girl” and then when she moved back to the US, she was “the girl who grew up in Europe,” and then in our office she was “the American girl” again…until I came along, and suddenly she was less special. It is very possible that your coworker had carved out her own niche as the young go-getter and that she derived a lot of security out of feeling like she was very accomplished for being so young and in such an important role, and that identity has been shaken by you being there.

    I had a similar situation at yet another job with a coworker who was my age, but I was a recent grad and she had an AA and had worked her way up to a role that typically requires a Master’s. She was amazing, and she had gotten there by being smart, outspoken, confident, hardworking, etc. Those are great qualities, but when we worked alongside each other, she was constantly making comments about my work, my communication style, all kinds of things. Some of it may have been insecurity, but some of it was also a byproduct of having been the kind of person who pushed her way into the role she was in. She knew how to talk to people above and below her, but she’d never really had a peer.

    I second everyone else’s advice about maintaining professionalism relentlessly. In the past, I have brought this quietly up to my manager (e.g. “Jane was unhappy with how I did this, so I wanted to bring it up to you.”) which can either lead to a conversation about things that you do actually need to improve, or can open the conversation to, “Sometimes I feel like Jane is less than pleased with working with me-is there something you suggest that I do differently?” Alternatively (and what I did with my second coworker) was just say, “I want to have a good working relationship with you, but I get the feeling something is going on.” It was an awkward conversation for sure, but it prompted my coworker to say, “I don’t dislike you, I’m just really anxious about having our work output be perfect.” which turned into a conversation about communication style and how to have a better working relationship.

  75. BeeMused*

    I have been exactly here. At first when I was hired, my coworker across the hall was friendly (we were the same level and around the same hourly wage). Then another colleague retired, I was given some of her duties and my position was made salaried and bumped up slightly (not even enough, I now realize). And the coworker suddenly haaaated me. I learned eventually that she’d been trying to get herself reclassified for 2 years, and it burned her that I had been working there only a few months and gotten it. But what she failed to understand was that her whole team was seen as outmoded and on the cutting block and the bosses were trying to slow fade it out of existence, hoping the older workers would retire and the younger ones would leave. Instead of adjusting her career ambitions to the new reality, she doubled down and threatened to sue our grandboss. Reader, it did not go well for her. But it was almost nothing to do with me personally. I tried to be collegial throughout, neither of us works at that place anymore, and we’re LinkedIn acquaintances now.

  76. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Is there someone else at your work, other than your boss, you could talk to? Maybe some kind of unofficial mentor? Heck, an official mentor (who doesn’t have direct power over you) might be nice, too.

    Stick to the facts and express some confusion about what’s going on. Frame it as that you respect the colleague’s work, want to have a good working relationship with her, and want their advice on how to move forward and make things better.

    Perhaps that person can have a quiet word with the coworker about what they’ve observed (e.g., “you’re usually so friendly/welcoming, what’s going on here?”). Perhaps that person could quietly have your back in meetings, like saying “that was an interesting ideal, LW, could you elaborate on [topic] a bit?” when she tries to shut you down.

  77. Sarah*

    Is your firm “up or out”? Does your presence on the team represent real impediment to her potential advancement by competing over the limited number of future positions?

  78. Toolate12*

    I’m in this situation and I honestly don’t know what to do. In my case, the person is senior in our organization, we have been forced to work together on projects, but she dislikes me so much that she will cut me out of communication or exclude me from meetings. It has negatively impacted the quality of work. I’ve tried everything I can think of – changing my approach, escalating to my managers, talking to her personally, but it appears that nothing will change (and when I bring it up with my current boss, she thinks *I’m* the source of the problem, because this other person is friendly with her, well-liked, and senior). When I talk to this person personally, she is cold and uncommunicative. At this point I’ve tried to remove myself from her projects as much as I can and am job-searching but I am at a loss.

  79. Luna*

    I’m going to tell you a blunt reason why this coworker may not like you: she just does.
    Has nothing to do with your performance, your work, your attitude, or anything, she just plain doesn’t gel alongside you. Which isn’t bad overall, I mean, I’m sure you’ve met people in your life so far that, for no real reason, you just… couldn’t get along well with them, or never really had any interest in interacting with them beyond the basic, polite minimum.
    And that’s just a part of life. Not everyone you meet will like you, nor will you like everyone you meet.

    But in the situation of this being a coworker, she should be able to be professional and decent towards you, without noticably shutting or freezing you out, seeming passive-aggressive or similar. Dealing with each other in work matters is fine. No need for non-work-related small talk, hanging out with her during lunch or after hours at non-work events, etc.

  80. TootsNYC*

    There’s always the Ben Franklin effect. Ask her to do you a favor.

    From Wikipedia:
    >> The Ben Franklin effect is a proposed psychological phenomenon: people like someone more after doing a favour for them. An explanation for this is cognitive dissonance. People reason that they help others because they like them, even if they do not, because their minds struggle to maintain logical consistency between their actions and perceptions.

    >>The Benjamin Franklin effect, in other words, is the result of one’s concept of self coming under attack. Every person develops a persona, and that persona persists because inconsistencies in one’s personal narrative get rewritten, redacted, and misinterpreted.[1]

    I had an office admin who was borderline rude to me; I just started being assertively, blithely friendly. I made it a point to stick my head. in every morning and say hello. I asked her advice for something extraneous.

    I won her over.

  81. DJ*

    Have 2 or 3 examples in mind before you talk to her.
    Is the workplace large enough that you can transfer to another team?
    Is there a trusted colleague you can get feedback from?

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