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Sometimes, even when you're doing what you love, a co-worker or a boss can make your job miserable. When a colleague is being confrontational and your mutual boss seems to always take your colleague’s side, you can feel isolated in your workplace. Handling such situations calmly and responsibly can allow you to maintain a happy and productive work environment.
Question the Situation
Prior to speaking with your boss or any other co-workers at your job, envision all the possible outcomes that could emerge in the situation and reasons why your co-worker and boss are behaving the way they are. Are they close friends? Are they likely to gang up on you? Could it be a simple misunderstanding? By asking such questions, you might discover that your co-worker is being confrontational because he is worried about being laid off, and your boss could simply appear to take his side because she is attempting to make him feel better. By questioning why your co-worker and boss are behaving in the way that they are, you could realize that their behavior has very little to do with you and is not as problematic as you first thought.
Upon questioning the situation, you could discover that your co-worker is, in fact, acting antagonistically, and your boss is siding with him unfairly. Document as many examples of these types of behavior as you can. Note the time, date and place of these behaviors, particularly when they are directed at you and when there are other co-workers around. Not only may it be important to generate these details in order to eventually speak with your co-worker and boss, but they will be helpful should you need to file a grievance against your co-worker, your boss or both.
When you’ve accumulated enough detailed information regarding your co-worker's confrontational behavior and your boss’ unfair treatment, you should seek out support personnel from inside and outside the company. Start with your human resources department, if your place of employment has one. Professionals in this department are trained to facilitate the resolution of employee confrontations. You might also speak with a union representative if you work in a unionized field. Finally, you might simply seek the advice and support of a sympathetic co-worker.
Offer solutions for resolving the tension between you, your co-worker and your boss when you speak with them about your working relationship. Say that you noticed an unproductive habit developing in how you all get along in the workplace, and you are interested in working together to solve this problem. This allows you to avoid simply accusing your co-worker of being snarky and your boss of playing favorites. Additionally, it demonstrates your willingness to cooperate with your co-workers even when it is challenging to do so.
Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.