How do I deal with a difficult co-worker?


I can’t stand my co-worker. It’s really hard to keep from saying bad things about her. I keep telling myself, “Don’t gossip about her or complain about her to others.” Then, a few hours later, I find myself doing it again! She brings out the worst in me, or rather, I allow her to bring out the worst in me. What do I do? Even today, on Sunday, I resolved to treat her as Christ would want me to treat her. And what did I do? Less than 12 hours later, while telling a friend about a very stressful week at work, I started swearing and bad mouthing her! And sadly, this isn’t the first time. Every time I go to confession I mention gossiping about her and being angry at her (it’s hard to be very specific since I’m confessing in a foreign language) and I resolve to stop doing this. Sadly, it’s not long after confessing that I forget and start up again. It’s so frustrating.

It’s also hard because she expects everyone else to make huge sacrifices to please her, but she refuses to sacrifice for anyone else, so everyone needs to be firm to avoid her taking advantage of us. So, how do I balance not letting her walk all over me (and other people) with being obedient to God?


Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I used to say that my job was a “near occasion of sin”. There was one person there who just made it SO easy to say something bad or to gossip. And if I wasn’t the one saying whatever, then someone else was venting to me about the same person.

I don’t have any earth-shattering advice other than to say “pray” for her and for yourself. Offer any sacrifices you make as penance?

Is there any way that a supervisor could help? My co-worker was often late or neglected certain job duties, and it was necessary to go to people higher than us to make them aware of the situation. I had asked my priest in confession where gossip started and talking about someone ended. He answered that if the goal was detraction of the person, then it was gossip. He acknowledged that it is sometimes difficult to make this distinction “on the fly”, and that in a work situation it is sometimes necessary to say negative things about co-workers to appropriate people.

My co-worker was eventually transferred.

I’ll be curious to see what others have to say.


Well I see by that reference to Seinfeld and the Schindler’s List Making Out Episode that you at least have a sense of humor.

Have you tried humor?

What about taking one thing she has said that is pivotal (and rediculous) to the situation and repeating it in your head everytime you are about to gossip or bad-mouth her? For instance I worked for a very high-strung, unreasonable, probably unbalanced French woman for a while. She had no children so all us youngin’s who worked for her were treated as her “children” albeit not in a healthy mother/daughter relationship – but an abusive one. While we were young we would constantly gossip about what this lady had done to us recently. Finally, we all came to agree that when things got too bad or crazy we would simply relay her own philosophy and move on:

“It’s never too early to over-react!”

I still laugh about this saying, and use it when I am acting the fool in my own life. The good Lord knows I don’t want to cause those aorund me drama or insanity at my hands! So I think of it and quickly apologize, adding inmy favorite quote which usually makes people laugh. I am 7 months pregnant – the tendancy to snap, or over-react is quite HUGE right now. :thumbsup: Just like me…

You can borrow it if you like! It has so many possibilities doesn’t it?

Well you are praying about it, you are CONFESSING about it, however you are missing one startegic point in overcoming it:

YOU – alone – are allowing it.

Meaning you allow her to p*ss you off. You allow her to get into your head enough that she’s with you even when you are not at work. You allow yourself to obsess and focus on it. Even if she drives you nuts and you have to work with her everyday, it’s YOU who allows her to get under your skin.

I think what it comes down to is control. You want to change the situation for yourself and other’s at work. You want her gone because she causes disharmony. Obsessing on it doesn’t hurt HER though, it’s not forcing her out – it’s only upsetting you! You find a sense of control in the situation in bad mouthing her because you feel it releases anger…but really it only breeds even MORE anger and resentment. Your control though, you need to really look at that. Is it because she really is a big impediment or because she doesn’t do things as efficiently or quickly as you would? Some people just rub us the wrong way. If that’s the case, stay away from her as much as possible.

Have you thought about saying the Serenity Prayer as you walk into work and before every moment you step into a situation with her? “Lord, Grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”

You can’t change her, obviously. You can’t force her to do her share of work or pick up slack because she’s not going to do it. You can choose what you allow to get to you though. Maybe you could journal some of the stuff she’s doing that you find “unfair” and non-teamwork and eventually present it to your boss in a calm and peaceful way, addressing it as concerns and not in anger?

Or maybe, if your co-workers are fed up with the same behavior you can all pick up her slack and leave her with nothing to do? If she’s not useful to the company…well…and besides, instead of waiting around for her to do things she won’t and it stressing everyone else out – take it on and get the JOB done. You’ll feel better and less-resentful. Keep journaling it though, you and your co-workers, and eventually it’ll work out. But try and do it for the good of your company and your co-workers, not out of hatred for her, or for her to find another job.

Go in peace with this, and know that what comes around goes around, God will make sure of that. You change your attitude and I bet things get a lot better at work.


Have you tried talking to her? I mean, the minute she does something that makes you angry, do you try to talk to her about it before you get to the point of swearing?

This is a hard process to do.

I had to learn the hard way to work with people, I own a business. It’s extremely hard when employees are not doing things the way that you would like it, and approaching them, while being charitable and not insulting, it rather hard.

So, I suggest to pray for the Holy Spirit to put the right words in you mouth, at the very moment that you need it and confront her.

Then, you know that you have spoken your peace (or piece).

Once you learn to do this and start being honest with this co-worker, try to not allow anyone else to bring their problems about her to you. Other co-workers will see you handling her very well and the next thing you know, you’ll be the peacemaker…try to use this as an opportunity to show your Faith through your works. :thumbsup:

God Bless you.

It’s hard, I know. To be honest, I worked with a girl for about five years, I couldn’t stand her! Looking back, I just wish that I had been honest with her about her actions.

Edit: to mention something else…you may find out that her home life is horrible, the reason she acts the way that she does. If you were to find that to be true, pray for her in that aspect.


Okay, here is my :twocents: . It is sure to break the habit but it is not easy and you may not like it. You say that you “resolve to stop” but then you “forget and start up again.” You have to train yourself NOT to forget. If you were attempting to train a child not to touch a hot stove or not to use profanity, there probably are repercussions for the child’s bad behavior. The child learns that the act is not worth the consequences and soon gives up the bad behavior. I realize that you are not a child; however, this method of learning is ingrained in us as children and remains with us throughout our lives. My suggestion to you would be that every time you find yourself gossiping or badmouthing the individual to others, you confess your sin to God and then you invite the individual out to lunch and apologize to him/her for what you did. If you stole something from someone, you would be obliged to make restitution to him or her. The same thing applies here. I can almost guarantee you that if you commit yourself to making reparation to the person that you have wronged; it will not take long before you change the pattern you mentioned above.

P.S. - This is also a good lesson in humility.


Oh My Gosh!!! I’m going thru the same thing! We had a meeting with our supervisor on Friday. This woman is so demanding and inconsiderate of others. She thinks she’s the only one in the unit that deserves anything anytime she wants it! My supervisor basically took her side(the squeeky wheel gets the grease) and wouldn’t listen to my side at all. She basically told me that I was wrong and to give this person anything she wants! I can’t do this in good conscience and be fair to my other coworkers. Boy have I confessed and prayed about this! I even got a saint Benedict medal and wear it everyday to ward off the evil that she spews because there is nothing I can do about it according to my supervisor. It’s so wrong for me and my coworkers to have to take this woman’s evil spirit, but there’s nothing we can do to her except pray ALOT or leave. :banghead:


I had to leave my job but it was sort of mutual firing because I couldn’t handle it all.
God had given me the impression about 6 months ago to get ready to leave so I did.
When management takes her side it is hard to fight against, she is trying to hen peck you.
Ask her why she hates you so much.
I had one like that at work and she was just upping for a fight, and she got iller and iller. I got calmer and calmer for awhile then she ended up in the hospital but she came back, I began to feel very sorry for her in the end. But I am glad I left, but I left speaaking my mind in a polite charitable way.
I don’t think god wanted me in that sort of envioronment.
Try to keep callm. Pray . D.


I am SO glad I am not the only one! Fortunately, the people I work with are all long distance to me, so I don’t have a very easy way to immediately complain and gossip–but somehow I manage it by weeks end anyway! I have asked St Terese to help me. She put up with a lot of petty things from her fellow sisters and always offered those annoyances and situations up without complaint. I also have to remind myself that the co-workers I complain about are not totally without skills. They perform well in other areas–just not in the specific tasks they do with me. I am also blessed to have the friendship and respect of my manager, so I try not to take advantage of that position to unjustly accuse them. I will pray for us on this thread. Please pray for me.


The advice has been very good so far and Tietjen, I love yours! I think that would definitely work, though it wouldn’t be very fun! (Don’t worry about the comment with children. I am a teacher, so I’m used to that sort of thing.) Still not pleasant, but would definitely work.


Whenever there are problems in the workplace, and you feel you need to take action, there are three things you must do as a prerequsite:

  1. Document
  2. Document
  3. Document

In the course of the documentation, you will either gather evidence and witnesses, or you may find that the situation is not as bad as you think it is.


I think we have all been in your shoes to some degree…whether it’s a coworker, neighbor…etc…

I have often found it is hard to stay angry with someone I’m praying for. Try praying for this person…and your thoughts about her will change, too.:slight_smile:


Put the shoe on the other (her) foot.

When she asks for a compromise/favor don’t just do it - reply:
“OK, but I’ll do that when you do this for me”.

And keep records. Document these “favors” via email confirmations. I’ll bet within weeks of being held accountable this person will stop asking (you at least, and they’ll find another “victim”).


To the OP…try working with a WHOLE bunch of women…somedays it’s all I can do to be civil.



Yeah, I’ve started praying for her, so I’m going to keep at it. She has some health problems, so I’ve been praying for those.

I’ve also decided to simply walk away when she starts complaining (which I can’t stand.) Not as a protest, just to protect my own sanity.


Well, today was a good day. My co-worker was good for a laugh, anyway. She had fish soup in her fridge, and she decided the best way to get rid of it would be to flush it down the toilet. The bones clogged up the toilet, and she nearly had to replace the toilet.

Don’t worry. She thought it was hilarious too, and she couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it, so I’m not breaking any confidence by saying this. So we shared a good laugh about this.


Oh that’s great! well…not the part about her clogging the toilet:p But, you never know…you may find some things about her that will help you to overlook the negative things. It is hard…there is someone within my dept who is hard to deal with, but I think we are challenged as Catholics especially, to look at people the way Christ does…this doesn’t mean, of course, to overlook if someone we work with is stealing, embezzling, etc…but, you know what I mean.:smiley: I hope things get better.:slight_smile:


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