I work very closely with two other women. We work in education as a “team” (I’ll spare you the boring details). The three of us share an office that we are at about half the time maybe a little more.
My problem is that one of my co-workers is extremely annoying. It is at the point where she is so distracting I am having difficulty getting my work done. She talks excessively about her cases, and demands so much of our attention. She also asks for my opinion frequently about things, and immediately dismisses whatever the first five words out of my mouth are. She also begs me to go to meetings with her, even though she has been doing this many more years than I. This, unfortunately, is not the worst part. She is extremely critical of EVERYONE. She frequently makes passive-aggressive comments about certain touchy topics. For example, if I get the soup AND salad combo, she will snobbishly say “Wow, SOMEONE is hungry today.” She is completely obsessed with her body (rail thin by the way) and our bodies too! I know I can just put up with her, and usually do. I was hoping maybe you can offer up some suggestions on how to keep her at bay. Sometimes i just want to scream at her, “SHUT UP!!!”
p.s… politely asking her not to read her emails out loud was not successful.
She “demands” attention? So freaking what? My kids are constantly demanding things, on repeat, often to the point where I wonder if I should have them evaluated. But do I give in? No. (Well, unless something juicy is on Oprah or I feel guilty because a babysitter is coming and I don’t want them to think I don’t love them.) I ignore them. I say bland, noncommittal things like, “Oh, is that so?” or “I understand that you really want to fill the pool with rocks. You must feel frustrated right now.”
Treat your coworker like she’s a pesky, dim-witted child. If she talks about her cases, do you have to respond? No! You don’t. If she asks for your opinion and you actually give it, you’re just like Charlie Brown and the football. If you don’t answer, she can’t argue with you. “What should I do?” “Geez, that’s a tough one, I don’t know.” Don’t go to the meetings with her. If she begs, just say no. What’s wrong with you that you can’t say no to her? Is she going to beat you up? (It sounds like she’s tiny enough that you can snap her like a twig, so I bet not.) Is she going to cry? My kids cry all the time and it doesn’t bother me. She’s bullying you with her demands because you let her.
Is it possible for you to listen to your iPod at work? If she has to get up and wave in your face to get your attention, and then wait for you to fumble around and hit pause and take off your headphones, she might not want to make the effort for every little thing. And you won’t have to listen to her reading her emails out loud. (She really read them out loud? Could you be a little less polite? Or maybe the second she starts reading hers, start reading your spam folder out loud. “Look, I got an offer for a free trip to Colombia, all I have to do is deliver a package to a man named Angry Vic who’s going to meet me at the airport. Oh, hell yeah, I do want my penis enlarged! And as a matter of fact, I am interested in improving my sexual performance the safe and easy way without pills or powders.”)
As far as the sandwich thing, you obviously need to start bringing in the most outrageous lunches you can find. Sit down with an entire rotisserie chicken and a fork, and go at it. Drink directly from a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and put your face in a bag of Doritos. Eat enthusiastically, with lots of slurping and finger licking, and when she says something, turn to her with a greasy face, a mouth full of food, grin as widely as you can, and say, “Yes, I AM eating a whole pizza by myself, and it’s DELICIOUS. HAVE SOME!”