Relationship with my co-worker


#1

I am struggling in my workplace, especially relationship with my co-worker troubles me. I recently graduated from a PhD in Biology and I am finishing a project in my PhD lab. I am 32 and ready to start a family. I am a postDoctoral researcher now. It is quite frustrating since there are very few jobs for Biology PhDs these days and to earn my living I am often working 10-12 hours a day (as is normal in my field). My coworker is a technician in my lab. She is about 8 years older than me and has a 14 year old son. She works about 6- 7 hours a day but does not stop talking about how hardworking she is. She was supposed to help me with a new project starting in the lab but she still kept her normal timing leaving at 3:30 every day. My hours have been crazy because I had to finish all the work (coming at 8am and leaving at 9 to 10 pm). Then we started arguing. She went to boss and told him, that he hired her 9 years ago with a promise that she will be able to leave every day at 3:30.
She drives her 14 year old to different special activities so she needs to leave. I understand this. What I don;t undertand is why does she repeat 3 times every day how much work she has and how hard she works? (She does not work very hard most of the time). I know that this is a lie that she makes for herself and it is unthinkable for me to tell her the truth. I just hate lying and so I feel disturbed the whole day. We have a work place of 4 people only so it is hard to stop talking to somebody (it looks like a hostility). I think that I envy her a bit a relaxed schedule that I might never have. We are trying to have a child and the idea of working so many hours distresses me.
How could I make my relationship with her better? Any idea?

Thank you!


#2

She is probably feeling guilty about leaving early and relaxing when's working therefore feels that's she has to justify her actions by how much work she does


#3

Hello,

I read a great book that really helped me. It is called “God help me these people are driving me nuts” by Gregory Popcak. It can be purchased off Amazon.com. I wish you all the best. God Bless.

Wendy Ann


#4

Thank you for advice. That sounds like a book that I need to read. I just so much hate lying and pretending and I am forced to do it every day to keep her happy. I am too much of a chicken to tell her the truth (that she could not accept because she is lying to herself). I am not her psychotherapist to force her to change herself. I can justify why she leaves early and also that she does not work so hard (it is normal that people are lazy when it is ok with boss). The real problem for me are these “narratives” of hard work because I have to confirm them! Uch! I so much hate lying! I am buying the book right now. Thanks!


#5

Perhaps you could talk about yourself a bit. You know, say how you work 10+ hours a day and how challenging the PhD was (I’m still there and sympathise) and how tough it is to make it in your field and at the same time want to have a nice family life. That kind of thing. Maybe it will make her realise that there are people who work more hard than she does and maybe, just maybe, it will shut her up. You never know.

Just try and not take it personally, don’t let her get to you.


#6

Keep looking for other work. She is trying to keep her job by convincing all around her of how hard she works - in the meantime, she is a slacker. Too bad the boss isn't seeing it yet.


#7

[quote="KZ2011, post:1, topic:240948"]
I am struggling in my workplace, especially relationship with my co-worker troubles me. I recently graduated from a PhD in Biology and I am finishing a project in my PhD lab. I am 32 and ready to start a family. I am a postDoctoral researcher now. It is quite frustrating since there are very few jobs for Biology PhDs these days and to earn my living I am often working 10-12 hours a day (as is normal in my field). My coworker is a technician in my lab. She is about 8 years older than me and has a 14 year old son. She works about 6- 7 hours a day but does not stop talking about how hardworking she is. She was supposed to help me with a new project starting in the lab but she still kept her normal timing leaving at 3:30 every day. My hours have been crazy because I had to finish all the work (coming at 8am and leaving at 9 to 10 pm). Then we started arguing. She went to boss and told him, that he hired her 9 years ago with a promise that she will be able to leave every day at 3:30.
She drives her 14 year old to different special activities so she needs to leave. I understand this. What I don;t undertand is why does she repeat 3 times every day how much work she has and how hard she works? (She does not work very hard most of the time). I know that this is a lie that she makes for herself and it is unthinkable for me to tell her the truth. I just hate lying and so I feel disturbed the whole day. We have a work place of 4 people only so it is hard to stop talking to somebody (it looks like a hostility). I think that I envy her a bit a relaxed schedule that I might never have. We are trying to have a child and the idea of working so many hours distresses me.
How could I make my relationship with her better? Any idea?

Thank you!

[/quote]

For some people a certain amount of work is harder than it would be for certain others.
She is alone right, and has a child and must do everything herself.
She might be both mentally and physically tired. Don't judge.
Maybe in a short time, you will be the one needing other people to be understanding.


#8

Everyone has something in his or her personal life that could intrude upon work productivity. Tough beans. It is no one else’s responsibility but her own. She is not entitled to special working conditions because of her personal choices in life.


#9

I think you got at some of the issue right there.

Other than that, my only advice share your concerns about what you see as an unbalanced division of labor with your supervisor. Perhaps this person can shift workloads around a bit so that you’re not the one doing the lion’s share.


#10

It is complicated. This person was hired with the condition that she leaves early. My boss does not push anybody to work (you can not show up for ouple days and he will not even notice). This is a place of my PhD laboratory where I have worked hard to get the PhD and this lifestyle is somewhat still continuing while being a PostDoc. PostDoc is a training position (mostly 5 years) and you are supposed to produce scientfic papers. If you don;t produce them nobody will hire you for a REAL job. So you don;t need your suporvisor to push you to work (unlike a technician who does not depend on the # and quality of papers). While this is low pay and few benefits you slave a lot.

I am frustrated on multiple fronts: trying to have the first child, and the prospect of training positions with no benefits and too many working hours. And while this was fun when I was younger (I like learning new things, doing experiments and discovering how cells work…) it is becoming extremely frustrating at the age of 32. Why did I complete the PhD? If I didn;t I could have perhaps gotten a “normal” job like my coworker (I already proved that I can work extremely hard; lazy people dont earn PhDs).

I am sorry for the rant. Please forgive me.


#11

My coworker is not a single mother! She has a nice husband! (And her boy is already 14). Her husband works a lot though so the child care is on her. That is why she made the deal with my boss when she was hired 9 years ago that she will only stay from 8- 3:30. I have nothing agaist this just my boss wanted her to do some experiments (some of this was helping me with a new project) that were taking too much of her time so she was forced to leave later. So she got all upset and was saying that if boss was like this she would have quit this job a long time ago etc. then she talked to the boss too reminding him about the condition upon shich she was hired. I just don’t undertand how some people get away with so much…


#12

P.S. I have made my husbad wait many times till night to come home. This is normal in my field though- many experiments require a lot of time. Blissful time of a technician (leaving at 3:30) compared to a PhD student/PostDoc!!!

P.S. Yes I am thinking of changing field but I have gone so far in this one and studying is so expensive in US!


#13

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:8, topic:240948"]
Everyone has something in his or her personal life that could intrude upon work productivity. Tough beans. It is no one else's responsibility but her own. She is not entitled to special working conditions because of her personal choices in life.

[/quote]

GraceDK gave solid christian advice; don't judge. This statement really applies to both of the women involved, does it not? We are all responsible for the choices that we make in life.


#14

I'm going to come at this from an HR perspective as well as personal opinion..

This woman was hired with a specific schedule PROMISED. That is none of your business. Unless your boss is an idiot, he probably pays her in the same regard, benefits included (or perhaps not?)

You might recal the readings a few weeks back, about the land owner that sent workers to his field first thing in the morning, again later at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm... All of them earned a days wage. Except the ones that started in the morning who were PAID what they negotiated somehow felt those that came in at the end of the day did not deserve their same pay... or that they should get more... Do you remember that? Was it the business of the field workers how the land owner spent his money?

NOW, if this woman is to help you with experiments, you need to make it clear (sounds like you are a bit sr. to her???) how long they will last. If it will go beyond 3:30, you need to inform your boss, you need a different assistant, as his arrangement with her imposes on your ability to finish your job. Otherwise, you need to inform him that you don't have adequate staff to meet his needs. Inform you boss how her schedule IMPACTS your performance. It's all about what you can get done in the alotted time and what you need to get it done. He either accomodates that or doesn't. That's HIS choice.

Are you paid for the work you do? Fairly? Or going rate within this economy? If so... you're job is as you expect it and CHOOSE to do? As you have negotiated? The fact you choose to put work before your husband is your choice. It's no one's fault. There are other jobs out there. They are perhaps not in your field or at your level. But I suspect you are smart enough to get a 9-5 job. If that time frame is more important than the type of work you do. It's all about what's important, and priorities.

What I would recommend with regard to her constant commentary is NOT to talk to her about the subjects she brings up... How hard she works. (I think it's odd to assume that what she does comes easy to her.)

Rather I would say something like... Look, I don't get off work until this project is done. If that means 10 o'clock tonight then that's it. What I need from you is to keep the chatter down so that I can leave as soon as possible and get to my family. You see, I work very hard too.

I personally don't put up with coddling people. I wouldn't do it for you, or her. I would tell you. Look, this is the job you signed up for. You knew what you were getting into. Tell me how this woman impacts YOUR job performance, and we'll address that. To this other woman, I'd say, look, I can appreciate that your lifestyle only allows you to work certain hours. But you're driving me to the brink of insanity talking about the long hours when I pull an addition 7 over you daily. I feel like your standing infront of a starving person with a sandwhich complaining about how bad it tastes. I'm not discounting how hard you work, but I'm a bit fed up having to stroke your ego about it when I'm killing myself over here.

NOW... even further. You wouldn't be the first person who ends up working in an awful environment. Where the fact that your boss is suprisingly considered intelligent enough to tie his own shoes. We've all been there. You're going to have to make some tough decisions. You might, for example, end up like I did at one point. Working for an INSANE, cruel woman who goes out of her way to give you one set of directions, and then scream at you for not doing something totally different. Admitting she doesn't put ANYTHING in writing 'cause she doesn't want to be held to it. And the boss letting this go on with everyone that comes through. This woman angry with me at one point because I refused to lift heavy boxes and squat for hours filing their contents while I was mid miscarriage. A messy affair to say the least. AND SHE KNEW IT. This was not even part of my job description. Just something she thought of on the fly when I told her I was well enough to sit at my desk and do my regular job. Seriously, I was not down with that. When I finally became PG, but was classified a bit high risk, AND DH & I were quite used to living on BOTH our incomes... I literally walked out the door. Due to one of her crazy rants. I didn't even consult DH. I just left, wrote my 2 weeks notice (in a fashion that scared them to death), collected severance and was on my marry way.

We lost half our income, and I never looked back! You have choices in this matter. Don't allow that craziness of others hold you hostage. Change fields if you must. Science teachers are hard to come by for example. Realize this woman doesn't really work into your life equation...She's a co-worker. Nothing else. The only relationship you're bound to, is the one with your husband...


#15

I would not worry about your co-worker.

If she is a technician and you are a PHD, then there is nothing to compare. She is entitled to leave on time, and you may one day win a Nobel prize or something.

However, I also just ordered the Popcak book.

Thanks for bringing this up, as many of us will benefit from this thread.

You bring up an important question re: "How do we decide what to worry about, and what to walk away from?" Jesus often just walked away from people who were a problem.

Attaining this sort of discernment seems like an important skill. Maybe someone will shed some light on this, or perhaps the Popcak book will explain it.

Best,

Dedo


#16

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