Maintain professionalism and ignore coworker’s jealous behavior

Dear Joan:

I was recently transferred to another job in another company building, a short time ago. A female coworker, who worked behind me, seemed very nice when I first met her. She is pretty and I even told her this during a conversation.

 

Since her boyfriend works in the same building, I have heard that she is very jealous of attractive women who have to work closely with her. She is kind of a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde personality. She has admitted to me that she can be a b____ sometimes, but says she needs to keep her guard up.

 

When I have to go in the area where her boyfriend is working, I feel uneasy and don’t look at him. Besides, I have no interest in her boyfriend anyway. It is affecting my job performance because of her insecurities. It seems like I have to deal with a teenager at work. How can I handle this situation?

 

Answer:

You are working with a teenager—at least a teenage mentality. So, behave like an adult.

 

In other words, stop worrying about upsetting her with your own good looks. Do a professional job and treat her professionally. Don’t share confidences with her, since she isn’t likely to keep them, or may use them against you later. Don’t discuss your

personal life—other than to mention your boyfriend in passing (which should help to calm her irrational fears).

 

Regarding her boyfriend, treat him as you would any other coworker. If you let her

paranoia interfere with your own performance, you will be just as immature as she is. If she flares up at some perceived “flirtation” with her boyfriend, calmly tell her in a neutral tone that you have no interest in him. Don’t go overboard apologizing or rationalizing your own behavior, for that will fuel her drama.

 

Don’t take special care to tread lightly when you are working with her, as long as you are courteous, friendly and do your share of the work, there is no need to appease her need to be treated as someone not to be crossed. This is her issue, not yours.

 

It’s sad to watch someone like your insecure co-worker. Typically, the person’s self-esteem is so low others tiptoe, in an effort to keep the fragile person calm. These

damaged souls wind up being treated so carefully, they never end up developing the resilience the rest of us have to develop, in order to cope in the world. When they have a meltdown, the people around them try to smooth things over and give in to them, which of course, only reinforces their inappropriate behavior.

 

So, the bottom line is to resolve to be the best performer you can be. Keep open communication with your manager, so he or she knows how well you are doing—and in case you need your manager to step in if your coworker becomes a problem. Your coworker may dissolve into irrational behavior some time in the future, but if you take the adult road, you will be confident that it’s her issue, not your’s.

 

Dear Joan:

I just gave my two weeks notice to my employer, resigning my position as a sales representative. Since then, my job duties have changed from outside sales and being in the field, to duties of endless piles of copying and filing. I am wondering if there is any type of law or anything that prohibits such practices. I gave my two weeks notice in person and in writing. Shouldn’t I have the same duties for the final two weeks? Any information would greatly put my mind at ease for these final two weeks.

 

Answer:

There is nothing illegal about what your employer is asking you to do. Look at it from your employer’s perspective. They don’t want you out with their prospective customers talking about how you will be leaving the company in a few weeks. Naturally, potential customers wonder what is wrong with the company, since you aren’t happy enough to stay. In addition, they will be reluctant to sign up with you, only to get someone they may not like a few weeks later, to service what they bought.

 

“But I wouldn’t say I was leaving, or badmouth the company,” you say. Nevertheless, a sales rep who has announced he is leaving, is not a committed sales person, with loyalty to the company or the product. Most companies know it’s better to move someone new in quickly. If I were them, I’d do exactly the same thing, so don’t take it personally. Count your blessings…when you announced your resignation, they didn’t walk you out the door.


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, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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