my coworker disrupts meetings and explodes or freezes us out if she’s angry

A reader writes:

I work on a four-person core team, and we have a standing weekly meeting that is required of every team in our organization. We are all of equal standing and all have at least a decade of experience in our field. Occasionally a supervisor will come to these meetings, but often it’s the four core, plus a specialist or two who have info to share.

One team member, Jade, is derailing these meetings. She comes late, won’t stay on topic, talks about personal issues over the actual meeting conversations, makes phone calls, orders food, checks her bank account, and then wants us to repeat ourselves and catch her up multiple times in the course of a meeting.

She is explosive when confronted, no matter how nice you are, but we can’t continue this way, so our team lead bit the bullet and had a private conversation with her. It went exactly as expected — explosive, deflection of responsibility, accusations of us talking behind her back and ganging up on her, all things she’s had other colleagues do in the past. It’s a recurring problem for her, but she’s not able to reflect and see that her behaviors are the issue and will continue to follow her. She thinks she’s “just loud,” but she’s terrifying when she gets “loud.”

Now that our team lead has let her know that we’re all frustrated, I’m expecting either a big freeze-out or a massive explosion. How do we continue to do our jobs and have these meetings with a coworker like this? I don’t even want to have a conversation with her now because I’ve seen how she treats other people and I don’t want to be her next target. Our boss is pretty powerless to fire her despite numerous complaints from clients and other coworkers about her explosiveness, and we don’t hate her, we just want her to stay on task and help us get our work done. And not yell when we ask her to stay on task.

This is a management problem more than it’s a Jade problem.

Or at least it is if they know about it. It sounds like your four-person core team functions pretty independently. Does your manager — not just your team lead but your manager — know about the issues with Jade? And not just “is broadly aware that Jade is difficult,” but is she actively aware that Jade is currently disrupting meetings and either freezing out or exploding at people?

If she’s aware of that and choosing to do nothing — or addressing it but wimpily enough that nothing changes — then this is on your boss for not doing a basic part of her job, which should include laying out very clearly for Jade that her behavior is unacceptable and needs to change and then enforcing consequences if it doesn’t.

You said your boss is powerless to fire her despite multiple complaints, and I’m curious why that is. Is Jade protected by someone above her? Or is your manager just a weak boss who won’t do the work of managing her? Even if your boss’s hands are truly tied when it comes to firing her (which often really just means “not willing to jump through the bureaucratic hoops it would take” or “not willing to make the case for firing her to someone higher up”), she should still be intervening much more actively — for example, sitting in on more of your meetings and calling Jade out when she’s derailing them, speaking to her after every unacceptable incident, etc.

If you’re dealing with a wimpy boss, sometimes you can move that kind of manager to action by making it more painful for them to do nothing — meaning that you alert them every time Jade misbehaves and ask them to handle it. Make it as much their problem as you can: “Jade blew up in today’s meeting — can you please speak with her?” … “Can you sit in on today’s meeting so it doesn’t go off the rails again?” … “Jade refuses to speak to me and I need info on X — what do you want me to do?” … etc.

You can also decide you don’t care if Jade freezes you out or explodes. I realize ignoring an explosion is easier said than done, but assuming you don’t fear actual physical violence from her, what would happen if you all just … ignored her? Or left the room?

Ideally the group of you would also call Jade out when she’s disrupting meetings — such as by telling her to go to another room if she’s going to make a phone call, cutting off her off-topic monologues and saying you need to stick to the agenda, declining to continually update her when she wasn’t paying attention, etc. I assume that’s not happening because everyone is afraid of her, but there’s power in deciding as a group that you’re not going to let her manipulate you that way and will be asserting that no, she can’t disrupt meetings anymore. If it brings this all to a head in a huge blow-out, which it might … well, that might be useful in finally getting some of this addressed.

{ 168 comments… read them below }

  1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Ah yes, the person who says they are “just loud” or “has a big personality” as a way to cover up the fact that they are obnoxious, overbearing, unprofessional boors.

    OP, is there anything that Jade does well? Solo work of some kind? Is there a way to shape assignments and responsibility so she has more of that, and less of the tasks that involve client contact?

    1. Cinnamon Stick*

      “I’m just loud,” people have given me literal migraines because others in the room have to also shout to be heard.

      1. Dawn*

        Just the other day, a friend of mine accidentally parked in someone’s parking space and the dude showed up and started swearing his head off, and when I confronted him (politely) he said “sorry I was loud.”

        My guy you weren’t loud you were enraged and there is a difference.

        1. Namey McNameface*

          Strongly agree as I work with both: One person who is “loud” as in having no concept of an inside voice, and one who is “loud” as in being easily enraged and flipping off people they don’t like.

          Boss says “that’s just how they are” -sighs and pinches nose-

          1. MassMatt*

            Whenever I hear someone explain away obnoxious, antisocial, and unreasonable behavior with “That’s just how they are” I want to say “me too!” and start screaming, using profanity, throwing things, etc.

            If awful people get away with awful behavior and “reasonable” people are expected to just lump it, then why be reasonable?

            1. Artemesia*

              I like your ‘go to’ — mine is ‘well the way I am is I don’t put up with this shiz.’

              I like the advice for the rest of the team just stopping and saying ‘NO, we are not doing this; leave the room when you want to make phone calls.’ or ‘No, we are not having this shiz, if you can’t participate in a civilized manner, leave until you can.’

              And I’d be escalating above the manager after laying down tracks i.e. getting on record with cogent complaints from all team members to the manager.

          2. Dawn*

            It’s the weirdest thing, because taking the piss out of those people in return is just how I am.

            1. Late Bloomer*

              Agree. I love to be the person who, in an even tone, says, “I am finding it frustrating to have to repeat information that you missed because you were making a personal phone call, which should not be occurring during our meeting,” or “I believe that issues in your personal life do not have any place in this meeting, where we have a specific agenda and goals.” People have differing levels of comfort with stating the obvious–and facing the blowback from it–but I take a distanced, sociological perspective and find it pretty darn fun. Give it a try, OP, and revel in seeing what happens.

          3. Your Former Password Resetter*

            Weird how they never draw the logical conclusion: “And therefore they are incapable of working with other people, which is a core requirement of their job. So we’re going to replace them.”

          4. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            I mean, I have hearing difficulties, so I would say I have poor concept of an inside voice — I understand it intellectually, but sometime raise my voice well beyond that without meaning to (especially if there is background noise). I take feedback well if people let me know – but if they don’t let me know then I genuinely can’t hear it, it’s not something that more effort or thoughtfulness could fix.

            1. JustaTech*

              The difference between someone who is loud because of hearing difficulties and someone who is loud because they are angry is very clear to the other people in the room. They may still ask the speaker to reduce their volume, but it’s quite clear that the speaker isn’t loud on purpose (and isn’t angry).
              So, basically, you’re good.

            2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Yup, that definitely happens. But being conscientious about that and accepting feedback makes this a very different situation. There’s no need to walk on eggshells with someone like you.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Well I was hoping for a temporary scaffold around the missing stair while OP and colleagues continue to escalate this to management, and/or look for other jobs.

    2. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I know folks who are genuinely just loud/have big personalities, and their behaviors are very different from Jade’s behavior. They pay attention to the situation and the people around them and self-regulate. They’re cheerful and pleasant. They make a point of getting the input of the folks in the room who are quiet or reserved. They stay on topic.

      Jade is a jerk.

      1. Sweet 'N Low*

        Yes! I consider myself to be A Lot, but a big part of that comes from the fact that I’m enthusiastic! and outgoing! and I love people! Which means that I also care a lot about being considerate to those people, so I

        1) Went into a career where not having an inside voice is a bonus

        2) Try to put extra energy into reading the room and making sure that I’m not dominating conversations or continuing to talk when the other person has lost interest

        3) Make sure my friends & family know that it’s completely okay to tell me to lower my voice, and thank them when they do.

        Being a decent, not obnoxious human isn’t a difficult thing to do with a mild amount of effort – which Jade clearly has not put in.

        1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

          Yes! I have several friends who live their lives with great enthusiasm and sometimes forget to regulate their volume, but none of them would say “I’m just loud” in response to asking them to speak more quietly. All of them say something like “Oh right, thanks, is this the right volume?” Even if the initial loud voice was inadvertent, the response of “that’s just how I am” alters the dynamic to that person actively choosing to be loud despite or even because it bothers another person.

    3. GlitterIsEverything*

      I have a voice that carries. If I’m not paying attention, people can hear me down the hallway. If I’m projecting (theater training), I can be heard across two baseball fields.

      But I’m also the person who will de-escalate someone being angry / obnoxious and loud by dropping my voice to the point they can barely hear me, and modulate my tone and speed so my hard of hearing patients can hear me clearly.

      Unless there’s a hearing or speech issue, people can adapt their volume and tone to the situation at hand. Anyone who refuses to do so is a disrespectful, self-centered TP square.

  2. Goldenrod*

    Agree with all of this advice! Loop in her boss! But also: there are 3 of you and 1 of her. Instead of approaching her individually, start calling out her behavior in real time, as a group. Why should you all be so deferential and accommodating to someone who is clearly disruptive?

    I also want to specifically thank Alison for saying this: “Even if your boss’s hands are truly tied when it comes to firing her (which often really just means “not willing to jump through the bureaucratic hoops it would take)”

    I hear people at my organization constantly claim that this or that person “can’t” be fired…but we are very much a big bureaucracy and there is a very clear and workable process in place.

    What it invariably actually means is that the manager can’t be bothered to put in the work and use the tools that are available to them.

    1. AnotherOne*

      i work for a large university and, for years, the thought seemed to be that you couldn’t get fired.

      why was that the thought? my department had essentially never fired someone. the closest was when two departments were merged to create our current department and some people were laid off. but still not explicitly fired. (the closest may have been the person who they hadn’t background checked before firing and it turned out how a colorful criminal history.)

      than in 6 months, they fired 2 people.

      was that the right choice? i’d say so. but still it was shocking to everyone.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was in a similar situation and then one day a new high powered senior prof was hired and after the first week said ‘Why are we putting up with an admin who does Zip all day when we have so many things we need to get done.’ She was gone almost immediately and a similarly useless person fired not long after that. New eyes. New frames.

      2. SKULL RING*

        I had a job working at a university, and once everyone passed their 90 day probationary period, they apparently became impossible to fire… or even discipline. At least 30 people, who almost never did any work, and never were held accountable

        I made it 10 months before I got blamed for another person who didn’t do something before she left for a SIX WEEK VACATION. I told the director, “if you have a problem with her work, you need to take it up with her. I am not her supervisor, and her responsibilities are not my responsibilities.”

        I put in my notice the next week.

      1. Miette*

        Yes, but be sure to document what you are doing as response to her disruptions, and perhaps share it with the boss, because you don’t want to give Jade ammunition in her “my team is ganging up on me” narrative.

    2. Roger that*

      It is possible that Jade has compromising material in her boss, which is why the boss can’t fire her.

    3. ariel*

      I think of this tack as “returning to sender” – OP, you and your colleagues have no power over Jade so as Alison advises, just keep returning her misery to the person with more power / who has kept her on (for whatever reason).

    1. Lol no*

      Same. I don’t know why the three of them don’t just get up and leave once she starts her lunacy. Let her take her tantrum out into the hall in full view of everyone or she can sit there and stew. Either way, I wouldn’t be sitting there listening to it; that’s above my pay grade no matter what they’re paying me.

    2. Mango Freak*

      Yeah, funny thing to bring up! I’m guessing the whole office has a toxic positivity vibe, where drawing any sort of boundary is seen as aggression, so *forget* about any actual normal, reasonable negative reactions.

    3. NancyDrew*

      That’s not patience, it’s cowardice.

      OP, use your words and demand better from your peer.

  3. 3-Foot Tall Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn*

    I know jobs are tight, but it really sounds like the only way to avoid Jade’s explosions is to be elsewhere. In another division, in another building, in another job.

  4. EA*

    Is Jade a problem outside of the meetings? Can you stop having these meetings for a while, if Jade is making them impossible and unproductive? You say that the meetings are required of every team at your organization but it’s not clear how that’s enforced. Could you tell your boss that you don’t feel comfortable having the meetings with Jade unless a supervisor is present?

    1. Ms. Elaneous*

      If you disclose at the beginning of the meeting, would your company let you record the meeting?
      Even audio would be helpful.

      1. NotBatman*

        That’s a good point. And an excellent way to follow AAM’s advice and make it the boss’s problem.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This. Part of the strategy of making this your bosses’ problem might be that the three of you meet without Jane from now on unless Jane’s boss sits in with her and actively manages her.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I read it as if all of them have the same team lead. So if you are doing that, you open yourself up to the claim to be excluding or “bullying” her, because it cannot be explained by org structures to be meeting without her.

        I think recording of the meetings is an excellent idea as well as going back to the team lead/ manager after whey meeting that was derailed. “We wanted to discuss… but… What should we do?”, “Today… happened, what is your advice to go on?”
        This should be done ideally from all of the team members, so the manager does not get weary of only one person.

        1. Awkwardness*

          And try not to sugarcoat her behaviour. Key is making clear how outrageous it is and how it is affecting you and your processes.
          She screams, so people are afraid to hold her accountable on timelines or information that needs to be provided? Problem for the company.
          There are claims from customers? Problem for the company.
          There are co-workers from other departments who avoid her this putting requests from your team at the end of the queue? Problem for the company.
          She does not listen and not getting all the information work the risk of doing her task wrong? You have to spend to much of your time to make sure she does the right thing because she did not listen? Problems and problems and problems.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Have Zoom meetings, and make sure they’re recording. Jade has to click OK to be on the meeting, and oh well…

    3. MassMatt*

      It’s very odd that these meetings are mandatory yet there is no manager or supervisor attending them.

      Either the manager responsible here is AWOL or whole organization is dysfunctional and kind of expects people to just manage themselves while pretending there are no problem employees.

      Does anything worthwhile happen at these meetings? If not, if there’s no manager there, what would happen if they… didn’t happen?

      1. Kevin Sours*

        It’s not that odd in my line of work. You might have a project team with say a project manager, a couple of devs, and a QA person. A weekly sync up meeting would be pretty typical and so long as everybody can behave as adults there really isn’t any need for managerial input.

        1. JustaTech*

          We have meetings like that in my industry too, where even if there is a manager in the meeting, the point of the meeting is to discuss the status of a project and work on questions/problems and share data. The manager is there because they’re also working on the project, and maybe also because they know about what’s going on with tangential projects, not because they’re there as a manager per se.

    4. New Jack Karyn*

      Apparently, no one gets fired here. So there is no consequence to skipping these horrible meetings with Jade.

  5. I should really pick a name*

    Is there a meeting host who has the power to mute participants?
    “Jane, since you’re on the phone, I’m going to mute you”.

    Also, make an agenda for the meetings. Have a chair who can say things like “Jane, I’m going to ask you to hold on to that thought until we get through the remaining three items”

    1. pally*

      Yes! An agenda and a chair too!
      The chair should consider calling a break in the meeting or adjourning the meeting altogether until such time as Jade is able to participate 100%.

      Sure, that only makes things more difficult for the other attendees who need to get through the meeting and dig into their work loads.

      Somehow Jade needs to realize that these meetings aren’t going to cater to her whims and distractions. The chair can blame the tight agenda.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve had several coworkers who would go off on tangents, tell very long and not very interesting personal stories, or do that whole fake-y “I appreciate you” stuff for way longer than is necessary* (wasting several minutes at a time and lengthening what would otherwise be a 30-minute mtg to an hour or more). I have gotten good at heading those off at the pass and I highly suggest OP and the rest of the team start doing that too. It’s pretty easy to redirect if you are discussing an actual work topic. “Ah, Jade, that’s interesting. Anyway, about this report that’s due to management next Monday….”

      And I’m immensely curious what y’all do when Jade explodes at someone. Do you all react equally explosively? Are you all expert grey-rockers? (Grey rocking = not reacting outwardly when someone pushes your buttons no matter how much you’re reacting inside. Aka appearing like a grey rock to the person pushing your buttons.)

      But I agree that someone higher up needs to know what’s going on. And if they won’t do anything about Jade, then y’all probably need to move to different positions where there’s no Jade, whether that’s on a different team or at a different company altogether.

      *One time I was the third person in a mtg with two other ppl like this, both of them C-level execs, and the mtg went over twice as long as it was scheduled for. The only way I was able to finally escape when the two of them were busy appreciating me and each other was that I had to get out the door for a doctor’s appointment. I sure wish the appt had been an hour earlier, though….

    3. SD95*

      I was going to say that if these are virtual meetings, can you record them? jane might be on better behavior if you have video proof. In addition, if you shared the recording you can make her go back and watch it to get information she missed instead of you having to repeat it.

    4. Anna*

      I got the impression these were in-person meetings, but, if virtual, muting would definitely be a good option for addressing in the moment!

      1. Sunflower*

        I feel like these are in person meetings too. But how about setting up a camera? Everyone may bee to give permission to record, it can be framed as “so we can go back in case we missed or forgot a detail.”

      2. Velawciraptor*

        If these are in person meetings, is it possible to choose to have them in a location where her tantrums will disturb someone with some power (your boss, your grandboss, HR)? It becomes harder for people to brush things off as “just Jane” or “just a personality problem” if they’re the ones being interrupted by intermittent explosions.

    5. irritable vowel*

      I thought they were in person meetings, too, which made the idea that she was *making phone calls* during a meeting incredibly bananapants. But it kind of makes more sense that that would happen during a virtual meeting? Still totally inappropriate, but somehow less so, since people seem to have different ideas of what’s normal when they’re sitting at their computer at home.

  6. High Score!*

    Have the original meeting but everyone walks out when Jade gets difficult. Then everyone except Jade meets an hour later for the task meeting without Jade.

    Irritating, but maybe more productive. You could also all mimic Jade. Maybe if she sees how bad she looks, she may stop.

    1. 3-Foot Tall Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn*

      I was tempted to say that nobody should catch Jade up when she’s openly distracted and not paying attention… but not catering to Jade leads to explosions.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        And explosions should be handled appropriately. “Jane, I’m not going to sit here while you yell; we can reschedule for when you can talk to me in a professional tone. Now, Wakeen, did you want to finish the alpaca report?”

        1. pally*

          Yes! Meeting chair should declare a recess or adjournment of meeting to allow Jade time to pull themselves together. IOW, deny them an audience. A meltdown is no fun if there’s no one witnessing it.

      2. Suzannah*

        Then you walk out.
        As long as they “catch up” Jade when she’s not doing her job, they are making it easier for her not to do her job.
        You say, “sorry, I have work to do, and this was covered in the meeting – where you were.” If it’s DURING the meeting, you say, sorry, I can’t update you because you weren’t paying attention.
        If she explodes, IGNORE her. Just like you do with a toddler having a tantrum.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Strongly do not recommend mimicking bad behavior. It’s not effective with people like this – she will see it as exaggerated or picking on her, based on her comments – but, most of all, she will claim that all of you have behaved the way she does yet only she is being called out on it. It will not change people like that’s behavior nor will it help on the HR front.

      Ending a meeting that is not a good use of anyone’s time would be a better option. I would never go to a meeting with this person without a set agenda and someone to push it back onto the track.

    3. Mark*

      Yes I would stand up and walk out, “this meeting has been derailed yet again, please reschedule when you are able to stay on topic, and just go.

      “I will not tolerate being shouted at in work” and leave.

      “Checking your bank balance is not respectful of my time. Please reschedule when you can give your attention to the agenda” and just leave.

      Every single time, loop in your manager. I had to leave the meeting as Jane was picking her toes. How do you want to proceed as this is highly disrespectful. We need basic ground rules for these meetings. Please help.

      And better yet if your co-workers do the same thing.

  7. HonorBox*

    I think I lean toward having a conversation with the others in your core group and agreeing upon a course of action for when Jade does her things. That might mean you need game out all of the scenarios you’ve presented in your letter and figuring out how to respond… together. That probably means not going back to topics she’s missing because she’s not paying attention. That means asking her to leave the room when she makes/takes a call. That means agreeing upon a (short) specific amount of time you’ll allow her to deviate from the agenda before cutting her off. If your manager truly can’t fire her, you’ll need to figure out how to operate in a way that doesn’t allow her to derail your meetings and piss you all off.

    Then I’d go back to your manager as a group, highlight the ongoing problems, and let her know that should things continue with Jade the way they’ve been going, you have a plan so the other three members of the team don’t waste time and can actually get your jobs done. Jade seems like the type of person who will complain to manager when you ask her to leave a room when she takes a call, but that’s manager’s responsiblity to address.

    1. AnotherOne*

      I agree, this feels like the smart move.

      And I’d include a plan for when Jade refuses to leave the room/explodes so asking her to leave the room isn’t possible. Maybe in that case, the 3 of you reconvene in an alternative location after you all email your boss, cc: each other, a report of what happened in the meeting and why you’ve moved to another space without informing Jane.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Any time Jade explodes, her teammates should all silently get up and walk out. Don’t say a word to her. Just leave her to scream at an empty room.

    2. Miette*

      Not a bad approach, but I’d also loop both Manager and Jade into the process before implementing, for transparency.

      “Jade, we’ve told you this would happen. If you can’t leave the room to take your phone call, we will end the meeting now.”

      “Boss, we had to end our meeting 40 minutes early because Jade was disrupting it by taking a personal call. For this reason, I don’t have an update to the TPS report process and won’t until next Monday.”

      FWIW the team lead should be the one taking these decisions and reporting back to boss. They’ve got the job, they should perform it.

  8. Hyaline*

    I agree that there’s power in acting as a group, and also in setting clear expectations and then following through. If Jade gets belligerent, someone calmly stating “that tone is not appropriate to our workplace; if it continues this meeting is over” and then everyone literally getting up and leaving says a lot more than conversations after the fact.

    And if work isn’t being completed because meetings are being truncated or delayed? Neat, loop in management and explain why. (Or if, as you suggested, you worry about these meetings being required.) “We will not subject ourselves to Jade’s abuse during meetings, so the previous two meetings had to be cut short.”

  9. Heffalump*

    If you’re dealing with a wimpy boss, sometimes you can move that kind of manager to action by making it more painful for them to do nothing — meaning that you alert them every time Jade misbehaves and ask them to handle it.

    I’d be tempted to do this, but I’d be concerned that my manager would say something like, “This is just a personality conflict, a matter of personal dislike, don’t bother me about it any more.” Reminiscent of Sybil’s “you’re all adults” in this situation:

    1. lazuli*

      “And so how would you advise me to get the work information I need from Jade?”

      1. Archi-detect*

        what’re they gonna do, fire you? lol

        but yeah I get the downsides, even if firing isn’t one of them

  10. Ess Ess*

    Take minutes in the meeting. If she needs to be caught up, just tell her that she can catch up from the meeting minutes.
    Make sure to put in the minutes how long the topic was derailed by Jade.
    Also document any blowups in the meeting.

    Make sure to send the meeting minutes to your boss.

    1. Green Mug*

      I like this idea. Be sure to avoid any type of judgment statements about Jade’s behavior. Limit it to the facts.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*


        Jade discussed BTS military service requirements.

        10:15 Jade stepped out for phone call.

        Other meeting notes

        10:30 Jade returned from phone call.
        Jade asks what she missed. Chair will provide minutes after meeting.

        If she makes/takes a call without stepping out, a predetermined person can make a motion to adjourn the meeting or dismiss Jade, and the other can second the motion.

        I would prefer to scan and email to boss immediately and not waste time typing them up, that’s time Jade has to complain about the group action. Of course some organizations expect everything to look official, so if that’s your culture I would type and send minute’s immediately.

  11. saskia*

    Even clients have complained, but your boss does nothing? Yikes. Any way you could go above your boss? I think this warrants it. You’d need concrete (i.e., date and time of each), numerous observations of Jade’s behavior, steps you’ve taken to mitigate it (team lead discussion, boss discussion), documentation of your boss’ refusal to deal with her, record of client complaints and outcomes, etc., for it to be digestible by your boss’ boss. But if they’re remotely good at managing, they might be interested in digging deeper into your situation.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, if clients have complained and Jade is still there, I’m not optimistic that management will do anything about her. Unfortunately.

  12. PhyllisB*

    Is there any reason you can’t just have these meetings WITHOUT Jade? Yes I know they’re required, but if she’s so disruptive you’re not accomplishing anything anyway, so I would just…not include her. Yes, she may explode, but direct her to the manager and don’t engage. Maybe if y’all do this a few times, the manager will take some kind of action.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I agree. Make this more of the boss’ problem and less of your problem.

  13. Miss Passive Aggressive*

    I used to have a coworker who was very similar to this. She would get loud, get emotional, get angry when she didn’t get her way. She bullied most of the office into giving into her. I didn’t though. She would try the silent treatment on me and I ignored it and treated her like normal. It forced her to acknowledge me or else she would blatantly look like a brat and she didn’t want to do that. She wanted to be the victim. So she would have to respond to me. It was glorious. She hated it and I loved it. She finally quit and I’m sure is terrorizing people at her new job.

    1. Mango Freak*

      Yep. Return awkwardness to sender, as the saying goes.

      I’ve found that the absolute most surprising behavior to a lot of people in the workplace is dispassionately saying the truth. (Maybe that’s particularly since I’m a woman-type-person.) Since LW’s boss has made clear that there are no consequences for anything, there’s no reason to walk on eggshells around this person, or worry about hurting her feelings. She needs to knock this ish off, yesterday. Someone on your team needs to find their “I’m not effing around” voice.

  14. All*

    Had a situation somewhat similar, and frankly what worked best for us was simply deciding you didn’t care if she was upset. We had one person of the 4 (other than The Problem) who wasn’t afraid of confrontation and took lead on keeping the meeting running smoothly, with the others backing them up. If you work with your teammates that are all suffering similarly, you can even break it up where one person will be “in charge” of each type of problematic behavior.

    You said she gets defensive, so you can even frame it as a “okay, in fairness and to make sure no one is getting picked on: here are the rules to our meetings from now on, and they apply to everyone: calls are taken outside, people get X amount of time to be off-topic before we need to loop it back in, we all have to be paying attention and not be repeating things people have said, etc etc, so we aren’t wasting our valuable time.” And then not need her agreement. These are the rules that you are going to be following. Your manager should be doing a lot more, but if anything you can tell her to take those rules up with your manager if she has a problem.

  15. Festively Dressed Earl*

    If these are remote meetings, start recording them routinely; as Jade often needs recaps, you have a built in justification. Since everyone needs to know they’re being recorded, either Jade will get her act together or you’ll have clear evidence of how she’s acting. Document the other explosions. Be specific and lay out how it affects your work. Then all 3 of you need to go to your grandboss. This isn’t a matter of personal animosity, it’s a matter of doing your job effectively.

    1. Anonymouse*

      Even if they are not remote meeting, plant a recorder on the middle of the table.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s what I was thinking – start recording the meeting so you can let Teams transcribe the minutes.

        And put your manager on the minute distribution along with key project people outsideyour group.

  16. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Her gray cloud has a silver lining. She is going to waste your time at a meeting or she is going to waste your time (pouting/yelling) outside the meeting.
    You get to choose.
    You are afraid of her blowing up.
    Accept that she will blow up.
    Accept that she will pout.
    Don’t care. Don’t take it personally. Don’t think it reflects on you at all.
    Also, remember, there is nothing you can do to “stay on her good side.” It’s just not your turn yet. It will be your turn. No matter what you do. So just realize, “I guess it’s my turn,” and get on with your day.
    Also, tell your manager you need her to be at meetings.

    1. FricketyFrack*

      Honestly. My ex-husband and I had what we called the “assertive no” (usually accompanied by a finger point) that we used when the dogs were up to shenanigans. Except then it got to be a habit, and I did it to him once, and he started cackling and asked, “Did you just ‘assertive no’ me??”

      Anyway, Jade can have an assertive no and a spritz if she can’t behave herself.

      1. H.Regalis*

        I have a friend who’s a preschool teacher, and she’s done similar things in non-school situations XD

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Fair warning: I tried that with my cat and she attacked me!

      She pays attention if I hiss at her, though. I guess that could make meetings interesting.

      1. H.Regalis*

        I would watch a short video of a work meeting populated entirely with majority cats.

        I do the hissing thing as a joke with friends playing board games when someone makes a really bad pun.

  17. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    Had a similar issue back in the day. I interviewed for an internal job and was told repeatedly that the marketing counterpart I would be dealing with was notorious for blowing up, having tantrums and screaming at the bearer of bad news (job was for financial brand analyst supporting his brand). I assured them that I could handle it. I cannot stress enough that there were multiple discussions of his behavior before they offered me the position.

    First time I gave him financial projections for his brand he had a meltdown. I stayed quiet, calm and slowly folded my arms. When he took a breath, I asked him “are you finished? Can we continue?”
    He looked sort of stunned and definitely embarrassed. He never acted that way with me again.

    Jade sounds like a lot. Go with Alison’s suggestions and make this your boss’ problem.

  18. H.Regalis*

    Our boss is pretty powerless to fire her despite numerous complaints from clients and other coworkers about her explosiveness

    OP, does this mean that your boss is also powerless to fire the rest of you? If that’s the case, I’d say cut Jade out of the meetings, leave the room when she starts yelling, and in general refuse to have anything to do with her when she’s not acting right.

    Jade is going to yell and flip out regardless of what you all do. The goal posts will always move. The only way you can beat this game is not to play, i.e. don’t change your behavior in fear of how she’ll react. Caveat: This does not apply to situations where you legitimately fear physical violence. If that’s what’s going on here, GTFO.

  19. theletter*

    yes to all this, but also: It’s never a bad idea to get more purpose-ful in your meeting strategy – If this is supposed to be more of a stand/scrum meeting, enforce that, and check regularly to see if the meeting still has value to all members.

  20. RCB*

    Jane is a bully and bullies crumble when confronted. In the moment saying “we’re not going to tolerate that behavior in this meeting” and then stopping until her behavior changes or she leaves will get the message across, especially if you do it as a group. And if she tries to push back then either get up and walk over to your boss’s office (if they are onsite) or call them right then and there and report it (with Jade sitting right there to hear) and ask how it should be handled. Make it absolutely as uncomfortable as possible for Jade and your boss and things WILL change. People are so afraid of any sort of conflict that they will put up with anything and just complain, but the situation isn’t sustainable, you have nothing to lose!

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I agree and also I’d insist as a group that Jane leaves the meeting. I don’t think Jane should get to stay in the meeting room as it allows her to say, “they left, I stayed”. I’d stop the discussion after each outburst and the three of them tell her to leave. Jane will have to tell boss why she’s not attending the meetings as required.

      1. RCB*

        EXACTLY! Act like a child get treated like a child, and you can explain to the boss why your behavior is the way it is, your coworkers don’t have to put up with it. That also means your boss either has to deal with it or if they are a truly terrible manager have the awkward conversation with the remaining staff to explain why Jade is going to be allowed to continue with her terrible behavior, which the boss won’t do because if she wasn’t afraid of managing she’d have already dealt with Jade.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        I am glad you said this, New Jack Karyn, I think the idea that bullies will crumble or back down if you stand up to them is a form of victim blaming really. SOME will change their behaviour if the consequences of not doing so are significant to them. But many will not- just think of the monstrous bullies running various countries, of the behaviour of people like Musk and Murdoch – anyone standing up to them is at risk of harm. Think of domestic violence.
        However! This is a workplace, (not unionised I assume) and you (letter writer) are not alone. Maybe you could show this letter to your non-Jade colleagues and have a talk together about how you would be willing to work together as a group, to make your work life more tolerable. Talk with them about Alison’s advice, get your protective shields ready!

  21. Cinnamon Stick*

    I’m also curious as to why the boss is helpless to do anything. Co-workers have raised the issues. Hell, clients have raised the issues. When someone can’t act to please a client in a situation like this, something is downright strange.

  22. True Confession*

    I was Jade in another life. What forced me to get my act together was a demotion and a formal write-up, knowing I would never be able to move up in the company after that. I left on better terms with my boss and while I was furious at him at the time, it was the wakeup call I needed.

        1. True Confession*

          A few months, but I don’t remember for sure. We’re talking decades in the past.

      1. True Confession*

        At the time, I was massively self-involved, poor at regulating my emotions, wasn’t on the right medications, and had a lot of self-destructive impulsive behaviors, probably brought on by a self-esteem that was in the toilet. I was getting therapy, but it took a lot of it before I could strike a balance between expressing frustration immediately and bottling it up until I exploded.

        I was also reacting badly to some unfair practices in the office–certain people were getting special treatment, selective enforcement of rules, politicking. No matter the cause, I was still responsible for my temper.

        1. IvoryGirl*

          True Confession: Many thanks for sharing this with us. We hear a lot from the people affected by this, but many people are too afraid to admit that they’ve been on the other side. Appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable here and to have learned and grown in the past.

  23. Stoli*

    Ask Boss to sit in on every meeting until the Jade problem is resolved. Or go over Boss’s head.

    1. Just checking in*

      I came here to say this. But then I worry that Jane might suddenly behave, for now.

      1. raincoaster*

        Then problem solved. The point is not yo change Jane as a person: the problem is getting her to change her behaviour at work.

  24. Dawn*

    I’m going to say it as clearly and succinctly as possible: you do not have to put up with this. You are under no obligation to put up with this. So stop putting up with it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      this is nice to say, but what does that translate to, in terms of literal, actual, physical steps.

      My own vote would be that they start meetings on time, and they end them the moment Jane derails, and leave the room.

      When she demands that they repeat something they’ve already covered, they say no (or “one of us will brief you later”), and if she doesn’t drop it, they end the meeting and leave the room.

      1. Dawn*

        It translates to throwing out the mindset that they just have to let her be like this. There isn’t really a list of concrete steps to that.

        1. Reebee*

          “They” aren’t letting Jade be like anything. Management is.

          Seconding TootsNYC’s curiosity about your suggestions for practical applications.

          1. Dawn*

            There’s hundreds of recommendations of practical applications in these comments already. Please feel free to avail yourselves of them if you’re not taking my point here and require some.

  25. Hyaline*

    Maybe if Jade went viral on TikTok as “deranged employee of Company Y goes berserk” it would get someone’s attention.

    *not actually suggesting OP video her colleague and post it but the thought of some random client doing so is kind of beautiful.

    1. 1LFTW*

      This might be a good framing to use with management, assuming OP’s workplace could realistically have a client filming a staff member going off. It would look bad for the company if Jade went viral.

  26. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    Are these video meetings or in-person? If these are in-person, try to see if you can switch to virtual… then the host can mute her when she goes off course. If your company will allow it and it’s a virtual meeting, maybe record the meeting… so she can catch up later, and so you can document her behavior.

  27. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles*

    She comes late, won’t stay on topic, talks about personal issues over the actual meeting conversations, makes phone calls, orders food, checks her bank account, and then wants us to repeat ourselves and catch her up multiple times in the course of a meeting.

    Start each meeting on time whether she’s there or not. Keep talking while she does her Jane things. Do not repeat yourselves. (“Jane, we’ve already talked about that. If you didn’t feel like listening, that’s not our fault.”)

    Since your boss is “powerless” (i.e. SPINELESS), ask to have Jane reassigned to a different team — or ask the Boss to reassign the three of you as a “package deal” and let Jane flounder as a team of one.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      I’ve found that starting meetings on time (or cancelling them if necessary people aren’t present) … works. People get the message that there are consequences to not showing up on time (it can be embarrassing to have a meeting cancelled on your account). That doesn’t always work when you have senior people who waltz in late and restart the meeting in the guise of “getting caught up on the previous discussion” but that’s not at issue here.

      That said I wouldn’t use the accusatory language. A simple “Jane, that point has been addressed, moving on to Wakeen’s project…” should suffice.

  28. Garlic Microwaver*

    I think OP is asking the wrong question. They should, instead, be asking for talking points with management or above.

    1. brjeau*

      Yes! This would be a good way to start making it more of a pain point for your manager and make them more aware of the specifics of the problem.

  29. TootsNYC*

    I would have meetings without her.

    Or, the moment she derails the meeting, end it. Get up and leave.
    She starts to order food? “Well, it looks like the meeting isn’t useful anymore. Let’s wrap up.” And everybody immediately gets up and leaves the room.

    If you have an outside expert, apologize, and end it anyway. Later tell them you understand their frustration, and perhaps they should take their complaint about the meeting having been derailed by Jane, to your boss.

    You can’t change Jane. You can only change how you react to her.

  30. KOALA*

    Document each incidence separately but also get together as a group and agree to a plan to call out these things in real time.

    Ensure the meetings have an agenda to keep things on track, and if possible assign a meeting lead (rotate to avoid burn out). _Start one of the next meetings with a general housekeeping notice. Request that everyone arrives on time, stays on topic, avoids non- emergency calls unless it’s a client that can’t wait, in which case let the team know to pause or take notes for when they step back in, avoid distractions and keep all computer/phone use to business needs only during the meeting time._

    Then when Jane is late, the meeting lead calls her out right then with a “Thank you for joining, please strive to be on time for future meetings”.

    When she won’t stay on topic, “I’m sorry to interrupt but we need to move the meeting back on topic” The thank you/sorry is so she can’t reasonably say the person speaking was rude.

    Phone calls/food orders, “I’m sorry please take that call outside, or “Jane if this call is not an emergency please call the person back later”. If it is an emergency, “Jane we will pause the meeting until your call is finished so you don’t miss anything.” “Please make your lunch orders before or after the meeting” If these are virtual then mute her and then remind her to respect those guidelines going forward.

    Checks her bank account etc, “Jane you seem to be distracted, please pay attention so we don’t have to go over things again.”

    If she reacts badly, visibly baulk at her reaction and address that too. “This is not an appropriate reaction to our request to respect others in this meeting” “Stop raising your voice, being loud is not appropriate reaction and we will leave if it continues” “We are not ganging up on you we are trying to keep a professional and on track work meeting”

    _Also consider if the time of these meetings can be moved, if they are around a high volume time of day for her maybe there is a less busy time that would reduce some of the distractions._

    When/if all that fails immediately report to your manager, grand boss, or HR as appropriate.

  31. Suzannah*

    Oh, Jade sounds awful. But Alison is right – the best way to deal with this is to ignore her. Completely. Like – if she’s on her phone, turn to each other – as in, literally sit on mine side of the table and talk only among yourselves. If she starts talking off-topic, talk over her (perhaps first saying, we’ve got to stay on topic here).
    If she yells at you, walk away – perhaps saying, I’m willing to talk to you once you collect yourself. Or, you can email me your question/concern.
    Part of the problem is that people are trying to handle Jade as though she is a rational person. She is a bully. Bullies don’t win if you don’t respond to them.

  32. BellyButton*

    If someone is “icing me out” I would call them out on it “You are obviously still upset about XYZ, however icing me out is problematic and unacceptable. How do you want to move forward? Are you going to stop it or do we need to discuss this with boss/HR?”

    I won’t put up with that nonsense anymore.

  33. Grapes are my Jam*

    Unfortunately, you can’t make her leave the room if she won’t. I agree with the other posters that the rest of you have to get together on this, and plan YOUR actions. You all leave the room. Don’t pick another location; just go back to your desks – end of meeting.
    The group is too small to let one person be such a big disruption.

  34. raincoaster*

    I feel like this is a perennial issue. Where do these people come from? How are they made? How do they reach adulthood without experiencing enough blowback to retrain them?

    1. Dawn*

      There are always going to be bullies, and as we can see just from the story OP has told us today, they’re (unfortunately) often allowed to do as they please.

  35. Not My Problem Anymore*

    OP here. A little more context:

    This is an elementary school setting. We’re teachers, the clients are students/parents. We (and admin) have documented behaviors but when people from HR have come to observe, Jade puts on a good enough show that the HR person can’t understand why they’re even there. The meetings are absolutely mandatory and we can be more flexible when admin isn’t there, but they still have to happen and the three of us wanted the hour to be productive if it was going to be required.

    Since I submitted the question, we became very tight with our meeting agendas. We made a point of calling it out when any of us got off topic so she didn’t feel isolated or picked on. It helped us get through the school year. Teachers can’t be fired without a ton of documentation unless the situation is extreme and puts the children in danger. Although she has been caught screaming and has been spoken to many times, nothing has been so egregious that they’ve been able to bypass that process and fire her outright.

    I think she left the one-on-one with our team leader ready to fight, but we think her husband talked her off the ledge that night because when we met the next day to finish the previous meeting’s work (mostly her fault we didn’t get it done in one session) she was a completely different person. The relationship remained frosty but productive enough to finish out the year.

    She has managed to alienate herself from three different teams at this school and at least one previous one. She will eventually either quit teaching or be fired, but unfortunately it takes time (and maybe the right parent putting their foot down). Her children also attend this school and that has led to boundary issues. It’s a massive problem, but one that is no longer mine: I submitted my resignation the week after school ended. I will share the extremely helpful advice with my two remaining colleagues to get through this year, which will hopefully be her last.

    1. Nocturna*

      LW* above, for anyone doing search and find.

      I have to admit that I find it baffling that HR has to observe the behavior in person before they are willing to take action on it. Having people temporarily shape up in the face of known observation is a super common thing, plus it adds a layer of “we don’t trust you” towards those documenting the behavior. Not your fault or in your control, obviously, but it sounds like you had an HR problem above all else.

      I’m glad you’re out of there.

      1. Dawn*

        Education is…. a strange field with its own unique rules and ecosystem. This whole thing makes a lot more sense in that context, honestly.

        1. We're Six*

          Yeah even before COVID drove teachers out to the point that many schools will now hire anyone with a pulse and a clean background check, it was always a pain to get rid of a legitimately bad egg in that field. So HR not wanting to even breathe in Jade’s direction without like, 3 eyewitness accounts plus their own boots-on-the-ground report makes a lot more sense now.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        Yeah, I have worked in schools with strong unions, and they still manage to fire people when they have to. They don’t need an HR rep to come and directly observe, either. They just document, place on a PIP, and follow the PIP to the letter. Bad teacher gone.

      3. RVA Cat*

        I’m glad you’re out of there, too.

        I feel sorry for Jade’s kids – imagine what she must be like at home?!

        1. Not My Problem Anymore*

          We feel bad for her kids. They’re clearly afraid of her reactions (overreactions) to normal kid behavior. It’s an all-around awful situation.

          I still plan to share the helpful advice here with my now-former colleagues. Having a plan for what to do when things go awry should be helpful while they wait for the bureaucracy to catch up. Unfortunately, a PIP takes three years and starts over if you switch roles within the org. This was this colleague’s first year in this role. Obviously I don’t know if a PIP was put in place, but it’s at least another two years before she can be fired even if they did start one.

    2. Sarah*

      Thank you for the update so quickly after your letter was posted! I was going to comment asking for an update

    3. We're Six*

      Good luck with your next endeavor, OP! I’m sorry that you had to put up with all this. The fact that this is an elementary school setting brings a lot of new context into the situation including why it was going on for as long as it did (even if the field wasn’t desperate for teachers right now, it was generally impossible to get rid of a bad teacher). Sucks for you and your colleagues though–as well as the students :-(

    4. RamonaThePest*

      I’m amazed that your Jade experience and mine both involved elementary school settings. Our Jade (Brit hat tip here) was finally given such a horrible and assignment this past school year that it was completely obvious she was being given the signal to move on (it is indeed hard to fire teachers, and Our Jade weaponized her previous health condition to the point that she fairly gloated in it.

      Jades don’t like boundaries. The number of times I repeated the mantra, “I didn’t do anything to her, I didn’t say anything to her, I’m just not giving her what she wants,” (and she’s reacting like a toddler) was beyond count. She was not just good at putting on a show; she was Circus Maximus when it came to attention. She was competitive to be best liked and literally put down other teachers in front of students.

      My one regret was not filing a grievance. I didn’t, with the general “don’t burn bridges” approach. In this case, I should have blown up the bridge.

  36. Hroethvitnir*

    I always find it interesting the way so many commenters find it shocking no one has called someone out or act like it’s easy. IME literally every part of learning professionalism is learning to shut down any reactivity, and even when you’re clearly in the right it’s not always taken well. And my experience is all way less formal than offices.

    I’m not saying it’s not a skill some people have, or not a useful skill. But it takes a lot of practice to learn to control your emotions but still call out behaviour in response to someone who is actively trying to cause distress (with varying degrees of subtlety) and has proven from the outset they push boundaries. Most people don’t get a lot of that practice in individual contributer roles.

    I also come from the POV of being someone whose personal ethics have me attempting to walk a line of being friendly, personable and easy to work with – but determined to calmly call out problems. This has absolutely been to my detriment at times, and my focus going forward is going to be to take people’s complaints as just complaints with no intention to fix anything unless *they* take the lead.

    My experience is being one of maybe two people out of twenty or more who are willing to stand out even a little bit, even for labour violations. So the idea your average office worker should have that skill down seems deeply unrealistic to me.

    This is just a generalised ramble about the tendency of people to be ungenerous when reading about others’ experiences only with hindsight. I absolutely think some degree of standing up to Jade is the only way to mitigate the damage here.

    1. Not My Problem Anymore*

      Thank you, that is my experience as well. It takes practice to be able to confront people, and many of us have been trained NOT to do so. It’s why I’m not a manager and will never seek to be one.

    2. Dawn*

      I don’t think that it’s easy, I just also don’t believe in softballing the whole “this is what you need to do” conversation. Regardless of what the answer to a given problem is, if it’s the only realistic answer, I’m not going to dither about telling someone so.

    3. Mango Freak*

      I get what you’re saying but I think you’re blending things a little.

      I absolutely am aware that most people do not draw basic boundaries; enforce (or even support enforcement of) the rules the claim to believe in and swear are always enforced; stand up for people who are in the right and to people who are toxic and aggressive (even if doing so would be less effort than accommodating the actual boat-rocker).

      It’s just very frustrating to see! And to constantly have to watch as people who won’t do the basic, honest, honorable thing ask why they have problems.

      There’s a difference between people not going to HR because they know their sucks and people not telling the one problem person “hey that’s not cool” when the worst possible consequence is just more of what’s already happening. MAN I am worn down from people coddling the jerks and bullies around them.

      1. Dawn*

        I think maybe you’re going a bit doo far in the other direction, but… yes. Not directed at the OP to this question specifically, it’s very frustrating sometimes seeing the number of questions we get here where the answer boils down to, “You need to use your words and tell the person what they’re doing is not acceptable.”

        Once you are an adult, bullies should lose their ability to hold you down with just words and emotions. Not to say that being bullied doesn’t suck, because it does, but more often than not, they can’t actually do anything to you and therein lies your power.

        I definitely, not so long ago, joined a new department at my former employer and one of the existing employees did not like that and tried to exceed her authority with me, and I just told her “No, that’s silly and I won’t be doing that, actually,” was enough to put an end to it.

  37. Brevity*

    Thank you for the update, OP, and glad to hear you’ve resigned. One thing jumps out at me, though: you are all teachers of elementary school children — which is exactly what she’s acting like! You and your colleagues have decades of experience working with toddler tantrums, then, which you can directly apply. I’m not kidding. I think the next time your colleagues have a meeting with the superintendent, or whomever it is that oversees, you can pull out one of the “how to cope with tantrum behaviors” books you likely already have, and them know that it’s worked wonders on Ms. Explosive.

    WHAT a BABY.

    1. Elsa*

      The only workplace where I’ve ever seen employees throwing tantrums was when I worked in an elementary school. My theory at the time was that the reason some teachers are so good with children is because they are very similar to them.

    2. RamonaThePest*

      As a fellow teacher in elementary, there is HUGE pressure to go along to get along. There have been some credible writings on the fact that it is primarily a female dominated occupation, and teachers are expected to just “do it because you care.” I cannot tell you enough how hard the pressure is to do it because “teaching is a work of the heart.” I loved teaching. I have a degree in finance and economics and always envisioned teaching high school economics. Our Jade won Teacher Of the Year (let’s not get started on that) and Admin. said, “She gives up time with her own family for her students!” No, she didn’t, but the whole concept of praising valuing work over family…

      Adinistration/managers in education are typically teachers who want to earn more $$$, with a very few being gifted or trained in management. The majority tend to regard most teachers as lazy, unmotivated employees who needed to be micromanaged (turn in lesson plans to the point that the high school biology teacher filed a grievance and won) or just overvalue their own teaching expertise..

  38. DJ Abbott*

    The thing to realize and always remember about Jade is her anger and fear are not about you or your coworkers or this job. They are things that are part of her and go with her wherever she goes.
    My father was angry and explosive, and I learned that from him. I also used to freeze people out because I didn’t know how to deal with them and was afraid things would get worse.
    After more than a few decades of learning to understand and get past this, I know for sure that people like Jade are going to do this wherever they go and it’s not about me. I’ve reached a point where I can withstand an angry person yelling at me. I also feel sorry for Jade because I know how miserable she is. If you and your colleagues can bring some of this to your interactions, it might help.

    1. RamonaThePest*

      This is such a good point. My own Our Jade had such rage because she felt that her cancer came from his cheating on her; (side note:not sure of his marital status when they first got together) and the rage was always just below the surface. Our Jade was constantly grifting with her MLM product; promoting some other MLM “I will just love you to pieces even if youd don’t order!”

  39. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    Disappointing to hear Jade is/was an elementary school teacher. I remember teachers like her from when I was a kid – the ones who ruled by creating fear in the children that they would become the target of an adult who could lose control.
    Anyway, interesting to know that Jade could and did choose how she behaved, and moderated it when HR or management were there.

    1. Not My Problem Anymore*

      Classic abuser behavior, right? Being able to decide when you can behave appropriately?

  40. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Oh boy, I was just like that once. In my 20s I was a bitter, angry, loud and paranoid woman who saw any attempt to tell me ‘no’ as a personal attack.

    But unlike the LW, I had a good boss who took me aside and firmly told me to stop, get help for whatever was causing this behaviour and if it didn’t stop I’d be fired. I got so angry at this but – faced with the ‘no, no excuses, we don’t care what’s going on in your life you HAVE to behave better’ ultimatum I did get help. And I did improve.

    Without that threat hanging over me though? No, I know my weaknesses and ‘being stubborn’ is one of them and I do have to hit rock bottom before I do anything sometimes.

  41. Rosacolleti*

    I suggest everyone silently pausing in the meeting when she displays any of these behaviours – just look at her and wait it out. Every time.

  42. RamonaThePest*

    Ii worked with a “Jade” on my team. People refused to partner with her (educational setting.) She spent over 20 minutes screaming (at the top of her lungs) and mocking me. I just sat there and left after a “Are we done now?” through my teeth. (There were two other staff members present; one was silent and the other (her sycophant) added on. I left, called my legal representation at our version of a union; and reported the whole incident to our mutual administrator. I don’t know what was said to Our Jade, but she came up to me with a fast food drink and said, “When I’m stressed I go a little psycho.” I dumped the drink down the restroom sink. I never went to any after happy hour meetings she attended. She was moved the next year to another grade level (the entire team refused to partner with her.) That grade level began experiencing yearly turnovers in staff.

    Based on her assignment last year (I’m not working there anymore) she must have worked herself into being forced to quit (think long term kindergarten teacher being moved to fifth grade.) She’s leaving. I am trying to find out what was the straw that broke the camel’s back because that camel was on its knees years ago.

    1. Oregonbird*

      I’m trying to grok the accepted practice of derailing an entire class’s education – destroying children’s path to or interest in higher education – as a discipline method for terrible teachers.

      Broken systems are kept in place for a reason. It’s not unreasonable to see general ed as a weapon being used to keep our most vulnerable citizens ignorant.

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