How to deal with an interfering coworker

Dear Joan:
I experience a recurring situation with a co-worker and would like your advice on how to respond in future similar situations.  
My manager will walk to my desk to get advisement on a work procedure and I will begin to explain and another co-worker will interject, which has resulted in making me look inept and the manager leaves the area thanking her and leaves with the illusion that I make excuses because I do not want to carry out the assignment. 
This co-worker will then, come over to my desk and apologize for walking over me.  It happens repeatedly.
I continue to feel as if I am in competition with this person.  I do not like to feel this way and find  myself visualizing the character that Jack Nicholson played in the movie About Schmidt when he began writing a letter to a child in need and then lost the objective and it became a chasm for negativity towards those in his life.
Stop visualizing Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, and start visualizing him in Something’s Got to Give, in which he is a swaggering sixty-something.
Your coworker is apologizing because she knows she is walking all over you and you are letting her. Your manager is coming to your desk because he or she wants your opinion. If your manager wanted your coworker’s opinion, your manager would have asked her.
You are acting like a victim in this situation. Rather than feeling resentment toward your coworker, take control. For example, when your manager approaches you, speak quickly and clearly and don’t hesitate. A lot of thoughtful pauses may give your coworker an opening. 
If your coworker inserts herself into your conversation, put your hand up in a “stop sign” position and keep talking to your manager as if she weren’t there. If she continues to interrupt, turn to her and say, “Thanks Janet, but I can handle it,” or, “Just a minute Janet.” Complete your thought and don’t be deterred.
If she apologizes later, say, “I appreciate your apology but you keep doing this and then interrupting again the next time. I’d appreciate it if you would stay out of my discussions with our manager. If you want to talk to her, go do it later.”
I find it interesting that you think your manager walks away with the idea that you don’t want to carry out assignments. I can only guess, but if you are often giving reasons why something won’t work, for example, you may indeed look like you are resisting. You say you feel like you are in competition with this person…and I suspect you are. You may not be competing with her, but she is certainly competing with you.
If your coworker is an ambitious person, who wants to prove herself and take on more responsibility, and you appear to be slower, stuck in your ways, or too reticent, she will likely get more opportunities.
Even if you don’t want to get ahead, there is no reason why you should allow your coworker to steal your thunder. If you stand your ground firmly and with a smile, she will be encouraged to give you the courtesy and respect you deserve.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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