Dear Dr Sivri,
I hope you are well. I know you help with all types of problems, so I am looking for some advice please.
I work in an office in the City of London, and we deal with international insurance, so it’s a pretty high-end and stressful job, but I take it in my stride and am well-regarded by my colleagues.
My problem is this: I am a 32-year-old woman and I like to take good care of myself – ‘look good, feel good’ kind of thing. I work out daily and dress well.
One of my female colleagues is extremely jealous of me and she makes things pretty difficult for me at work. She is always being critical and making snide remarks about me, my work, my clothes, etc.
I’ve tried to ignore her, but she doesn’t stop and it’s beginning to get me down. I’m afraid her comments will affect how my colleagues regard me, especially as I’m aiming for promotion.
What’s the best way for me to deal with this?
Thank you for reaching out, and sorry to hear about your predicament.
Yes, unfortunately you have an unpleasant work problem, and it does need addressing intelligently.
There is clearly an element of jealousy coming your way from your colleague. It seems she feels threatened by you, so she is being defensive and ultra-critical of you.
You didn’t mention her age or whether she is more senior than you, but either way, she can see how talented you are and how much attention you are receiving, so she is trying to belittle you and knock your confidence. In her mind, this makes her feel better in some way.
If you haven’t already, then you need to talk to her.
Pull her to one side and have a chat. Tell her that her words and actions are affecting you badly and that you would like her to stop. Be kind and polite.
However, if this doesn’t work, then you need to be more forceful. She is not your friend, so you need to make your feelings clear by being more assertive.
Just tell her to stop or you will be making a formal complaint about her behaviour and conduct.
This is classic ‘Office Politics’ and is more about who is the dominant person in the office. In classical psychology, the roles between females and males are quite defined in certain areas and the workplace is the prime example.
For example: Who is the Alpha Male, the ‘Top Dog’, or in your case, the lead female? All scenarios within an organisation have a defined hierarchy. In the military, police force, sports teams, offices, etc. etc., there is always a chain of command. An owner, leader, manager, captain, senior officer, junior officer, assistant, etc. So maybe there is a bit of a power struggle going on subconsciously.
Push back with a tactful conversation with this lady, where you present your position in a pleasant and non-confrontational manner.
If this doesn’t work, keep records of her comments and behaviour, and then take it up further with your line manager and the Human Resources department, who will then intervene on your behalf.
Dr. D. U. Sivri
Dr Sivri is T-VINE’s agony uncle. If you have a problem or question, you can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org