Overbearing, Smothering Co-Worker


#1

Hello,

I need advice about a co-worker who has been getting under my skin. She comes across as overbearing and smothering and I'm not sure how much more I can take of it. I've talked to the priests about it and they've suggested I pray for her and bless her every time she starts to annoy me.

I've worked with her for four years and I've managed this far to remain calm and collected. These past few weeks have been very trying with her. Here are a few things that occur on a daily basis:

  • Every morning when I get to work, she tries to strike up a conversation about what I did either the night before or over the weekend. Then she'll try to engage in a 15+ minute conversation then complain she has so much work to do in so little time.
  • We work in a school environment where we are constantly supervising students. She will often yell or put down students for doing something incorrectly or being too loud, etc.
  • She constantly apologizes for her yelling and being "mean" to kids and she says she only does it because she cares about them.
  • Sometimes she will yell for me across the work area to get my attention
  • Sometimes I cannot stand hearing her voice any more because of the yelling
  • She's Protestant and she'll sarcastically ridicule my Catholic faith with things like "It's that Lent season again and you Catholics do that Fish Friday thing"
  • She insists on always having lunch with me when I just want to be alone
  • She complains to me about how much pain she's in, but then she'll be lifting and moving items with such quickness and ease that I don't understand why she complains.

There's a lot more. I don't know if it is sinful to be irritated, annoyed or impatient with her. I try so hard to do the right thing, but she continues to bother me.

I just need some advice and I try to follow the Catholic virtues to remedy how I feel, I just feel like I'm losing hope that it'll get better.

Thanks...:(


#2

[quote="injenn00, post:1, topic:314526"]
Hello,

I need advice about a co-worker who has been getting under my skin. She comes across as overbearing and smothering and I'm not sure how much more I can take of it. I've talked to the priests about it and they've suggested I pray for her and bless her every time she starts to annoy me.

I've worked with her for four years and I've managed this far to remain calm and collected. These past few weeks have been very trying with her. Here are a few things that occur on a daily basis:

  • Every morning when I get to work, she tries to strike up a conversation about what I did either the night before or over the weekend. Then she'll try to engage in a 15+ minute conversation then complain she has so much work to do in so little time.
  • We work in a school environment where we are constantly supervising students. She will often yell or put down students for doing something incorrectly or being too loud, etc.
  • She constantly apologizes for her yelling and being "mean" to kids and she says she only does it because she cares about them.
  • Sometimes she will yell for me across the work area to get my attention
  • Sometimes I cannot stand hearing her voice any more because of the yelling
  • She's Protestant and she'll sarcastically ridicule my Catholic faith with things like "It's that Lent season again and you Catholics do that Fish Friday thing"
  • She insists on always having lunch with me when I just want to be alone
  • She complains to me about how much pain she's in, but then she'll be lifting and moving items with such quickness and ease that I don't understand why she complains.

There's a lot more. I don't know if it is sinful to be irritated, annoyed or impatient with her. I try so hard to do the right thing, but she continues to bother me.

I just need some advice and I try to follow the Catholic virtues to remedy how I feel, I just feel like I'm losing hope that it'll get better.

Thanks...:(

[/quote]

Some of these things are annoyances that I would say you need to just deal with or voice your opinion to her. e.g. "I prefer to have lunch alone, thanks. I need to get caught up on things."

Other things, like yelling and putting kids down and criticzing your faith. are not ok. Talk to her about these things, and if she does not stop, go to HR.


#3

I have to agree with the previous post suggestions.

My guess is this is just who she is and no one has the gull to say "I'd like to eat by myself" or "I must run along because have things to do". Or better yet "Miss *** I have listened to you put down the students and it is my blief what you are doing it wrong. I hope that you can understand that is very hurtful and it is best for me to keep my distance from those who hurt others"...........

I would also contact HR if she does not treat other students right. She treats them poorly and then has an excuse for it.??? Really? Look at the entire picture she doesnt treat you right either and expects you to sit back and take it. Her life is a vicious cycle.

One time I had years of an older women tell me the most horrid things sometimes day after day after day. I did ask her to please stop. She would not. She also told me that she could not believe that some other people complained about her. I just listened and listened,,1/2 the time I could not get a word in. Finally I had to tell her "I am sorry I tried to be kind and pleasent with you. I also asked you to please stop and you would not respect my personal boundaries. So because of that I can not longer talk or spend time with you . THAT was that.

I do continue to pray for her. Being in 'her world' was awful. I thought I had to be in that world in order to be a good person................wrong.
Set your personal boundaries and ask these of her with Grace and Kindness. If she can not respect your request then stay away.


#4

Sounds like someone who's pretty close to the workmate-from-hell. I was in a very similar position when I was in my first job, which, when you're the most junior of juniors, is not a comfortable position to be in. Eventually though my frustration got so much that I had to have a word with my boss. As it happened he was completely understanding and sorted it out immediately.

Criticising your faith to your face is not on. If you don't want to go to the boss (yet), tell her to stop the next time she does it. Say something like "I don't criticise your faith, please don't make fun of mine in future". I expect it will come as a complete surprise to her that you answer back. In fact it sounds like she's on a bit of a power-trip, with you and the students. They can't answer back, but you can.

If she continues to treat the students badly, take it up with the Principal.

As for lunchtimes, my personal inclination would be to tell her very bluntly to her face to leave me alone. Next time she sidles up to you at lunch and tries to get 'pally' with you, simply tell her "I prefer to be alone at lunch time. Please could you find somewhere else to go". If she ignores you, get up and move away.

There's not much you can do about her complaining about pain but acting as if she didn't have it. Perhaps she just has a chronic condition that she feels does her good to moan about - in that case, you could be doing her a charitable act to help her let off steam.

Overall though, don't be frightened to stand up for yourself. A harmonious working environment is not one where one person is permanently giving way to another, it's simply a form of harassment.


#5

[quote="DexUK, post:4, topic:314526"]

Criticising your faith to your face is not on. If you don't want to go to the boss (yet), tell her to stop the next time she does it. Say something like "I don't criticise your faith, please don't make fun of mine in future". I expect it will come as a complete surprise to her that you answer back. In fact it sounds like she's on a bit of a power-trip, with you and the students. They can't answer back, but you can.

[/quote]

I haven't thought about the situation in that context. I usually try and help the students in a more calm and respectful manner when she ignores them because she's on one of her "power trips". It's kind of sad because I know she means well, but she keeps blaming her "Type A" personality on why she is the way she is.

[quote="DexUK, post:4, topic:314526"]

As for lunchtimes, my personal inclination would be to tell her very bluntly to her face to leave me alone. Next time she sidles up to you at lunch and tries to get 'pally' with you, simply tell her "I prefer to be alone at lunch time. Please could you find somewhere else to go". If she ignores you, get up and move away.

[/quote]

Today, since I was so tired of the situation, I just warmed up my lunch and ate at my desk. I said I had a lot of work to do and I didn't have time to sit down for lunch. Unfortunately, some of the people I do enjoy talking to were eating lunch with her and I was a bit sad I couldn't sit and talk to them (and not her). She tends to control the conversation and "over" talk my other co-workers and I don't like that either.

[quote="DexUK, post:4, topic:314526"]

There's not much you can do about her complaining about pain but acting as if she didn't have it. Perhaps she just has a chronic condition that she feels does her good to moan about - in that case, you could be doing her a charitable act to help her let off steam.

[/quote]

She actually has Rhumatoid Arthritis and I do sincerely feel bad for her. BUT she uses it constantly to justify why she does certain things or why she can/cannot be a certain way. I, too, have an autoimmune illness, but I don't complain to the extent where every conversation there's a justification of how being sick made her this particular way.

[quote="DexUK, post:4, topic:314526"]

Overall though, don't be frightened to stand up for yourself. A harmonious working environment is not one where one person is permanently giving way to another, it's simply a form of harassment.

[/quote]

I never thought of it that way. I'm glad that I asked what to do because I would still be sitting down here and doing the same thing I always do - doubt that I'm not being a good Catholic by helping her more. I think when I come to work, I get sad and depressed because I know I have to work here with her. I never get my work done because I'm afraid she'll bother me or insist on helping me when I just want to get my stuff done alone.

Thank you :)


#6

This is right. Everyone thinks she does a great job and she’s very compassionate and caring. However, I AM the only one that has to sit in the same space with her 8 hours a day. It’s like living with someone - you don’t really see the real person until you live with them. So I feel like sometimes people don’t see the “real” her.

Then again, there are some people who know how she is and they feel how I feel about it, but won’t say anything because she’ll go on a “guilt power trip” and try to remedy herself (like “checking and re-checking” if she’s good enough).

Yes, she ALWAYS talks about her home life. I feel like I know everything about her life and I just don’t want to know anymore. I can understand why her husband and daughter are distant with her. So I guess she turns to me, but I think she honestly needs to talk to someone who can give her sound advice. She usually listens to me when I give her advice because I explain things (unknowingly) from a Catholic perspective, but she reverts to her “old” self once it gets too hard.

Yes, I continue to pray for her. She’s a great person, but I firmly believe she needs to tone it down. The one thing that I’m particularly bothered by is that she said that she’s doing all that she can to help others because she knows its right and that’s what God would want from her. However, she runs herself down, then complains to me, but justifies that God willed her to be this way and she doesn’t need to rest, etc. I believe that part of that is true, but the Protestant side of her is really blurring the lines of sanity and insanity in her life. It’s OK to do the works of God and help others, but when it starts harming your health, that’s a problem. I tried to explain that to her and that she should only do the best that is physically possible for her, but she persists…so that vicious cycle begins again.

Thanks for the advice and letting me vent. I really needed it! :smiley:


#7

The other thing I wanted to know is if it is sinful to be annoyed, frustrated or impatient with a co-worker like the one I've described? I normally do not like the judge or hold any type of grudges with people, so this situation is concerning to me in regards to sin.

Thanks again for the advice!:shrug:


#8

[quote="injenn00, post:7, topic:314526"]
The other thing I wanted to know is if it is sinful to be annoyed, frustrated or impatient with a co-worker like the one I've described? I normally do not like the judge or hold any type of grudges with people, so this situation is concerning to me in regards to sin.

Thanks again for the advice!:shrug:

[/quote]

No, not sinful!


#9

Dear OP:

You wrote that you believed your co-worker "means well". So her idea of "meaning well" is to put down your faith and bully children? Does that really make sense when you read it?

OP when I was little my dear Mother knitted red scarves for us kids for Christmas, she tried so hard. She meant well and her intent was to make something nice for us. They were not that pretty but we loved them just the same because "she meant well".

I will be blunt. Your co-worker doesnt mean well. IF she meant well, she would treat everyone with dignity and repect. She might say "I remember that you are Catholic and lent is right around the corner do all Catholics eat Fish on Fridays or is that a myth? I dont wish to sound disrespectful in anyway but I am interested in learning more"

That is meaning well.

Bringing a covered dish she just made for the office that may not taste all that good is meaning well. Her intent was pure.

Why do we talk ourselves into trying to make someone into something they are clearly not? Perhaps it is our way of dealing with it. And our way of making sense of something that is 'off" and or down right wrong.By saying the co-worker means well is really not doing her anygood. It enables this behavior to continue and we should gently speak up. Her actions has becomes everyones problem in one way or another.

This is what she is use to and it has worked well.

People treat us the way we allow them too. Good or poorly.

Pray for her...and keep your distance and if she treat children badly you MUST report her. We must protect little children and those with disabilities and Sr. Citizens.


#10

[quote="Snowwhite16, post:9, topic:314526"]
Dear OP:

You wrote that you believed your co-worker "means well". So her idea of "meaning well" is to put down your faith and bully children? Does that really make sense when you read it?

[/quote]

That's true. It didn't occur to me while I replied and, no, it doesn't make sense when I read it.

[quote="Snowwhite16, post:9, topic:314526"]

Why do we talk ourselves into trying to make someone into something they are clearly not? Perhaps it is our way of dealing with it. And our way of making sense of something that is 'off" and or down right wrong.By saying the co-worker means well is really not doing her anygood. It enables this behavior to continue and we should gently speak up. Her actions has becomes everyones problem in one way or another.

[/quote]

To answer the question posed, my personal life has always been filled with people who have been like this to me. It's only in the recent months that I've started notice these "inappropriate behaviors" that I've tolerated. I've also learned through the spiritual direction of many religious and faithful lay people that it's perfectly fine to be in disagreement with others. What I mean is that I never really stood up for things that I believed were wrong or inappropriate, etc. I grew up in a family where you do what is told, don't ask questions, even if it's wrong.

Now as an adult and secure in my faith (as well as learning more in my faith), I've been able to carefully discern these situations and count on the Holy Spirit to guide me to the best solution. Most of them have been in voicing my opinion, something I've lacked doing in the past. I still feel like I have a lot of ground to learn on this topic, but I feel confident knowing that was my problem in the past.

In any case, I appreciate that you pointed this out to me as it definitely is enabling the person. As a matter of fact, my co-worker engaged in a 1.5 hour conversation with me about the problems in her personal life and wanted advice from a "person of faith" (me). I walked off a couple of times, put on my headphones, busied myself in other work - but she still kept chatting. When a student came for some assistance, she asked the student in a short tone: "What do you need?" then continued talking to me.

I didn't think that was right, so I attended to the student's need and she was still talking while I was helping the student. THEN she started to cry because she feels like everything bad in her life is her fault.

I really like your concrete examples - that put everything in perspective.

I'm up for a job interview in the next few days, which will remove me from this situation if I get the job. I hope I get it, but in the meantime, I'll keep going along, heeding to the advice many of you have graciously provided.

Thanks :o


#11

Your welcome.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.