‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I normally am a very happy, enthusiastic employee. Getting along with ANYONE has never been an issue. However, I now have a co-worker who has been very hostile and makes rude comments that he pretends are “jokes.” About a year ago, I began keeping a journal of these incidents. As much as I would like to go to HR, when the incidents are isolated on paper, it appears that I am whining about practically nothing. Should I go to HR? How would it be handled if I did? — Gloria
Dale: Without enthusiasm. This is the sort of issue that HR people hate. I hope you’ll take a shot at handling it yourself. Learning to negotiate with co-workers is an important life skill, after all.
J.T.: Besides, Gloria, in most HR environments, the reaction to your complaint would end up being just what Dale is suggesting: urging you to talk with your co-worker. Then, if that didn’t help, HR would guide you through how to talk things over with your manager. Finally, if that failed to help, or if HR believed there was danger of a harassment or discrimination lawsuit, they would step in and have a conversation with the other person and your manager. Unfortunately, you can expect a chilly workplace after that.
Dale: But don’t get discouraged and think, “I’ll just quit and find a new job.” I have a friend, a star saleswoman, who felt her spirits were being ground down by a negative co-worker. She got frustrated one day and quit. She quickly found a new sales job, but a lesser one, and the following year the obnoxious co-worker made an income that was double hers, leaving her to laugh at herself, “I sure showed HIM.” Don’t let that happen to you. Treat this annoying co-worker as an opportunity to learn and grow.
J.T.: Yes. Adopt the attitude that “we teach people how to treat us,” and you can learn to be a better teacher.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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