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Crabby co-worker scowls and sighs–even in front of clients!

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “I have a new co-worker who frequently scowls, sighs disapprovingly, and mutters inappropriate remarks under her breath. I try to avoid her because she makes me uncomfortable. Last week, she exhibited the same behavior during a meeting at a client's office.  I was embarrassed by the way she represented our company. When I reported her conduct to our manager, he said that I should “learn to work with different types of people." His reaction surprised me, because I am a very open-minded person. I thought that my boss would appreciate this information, but he seems to feel that I’m an insensitive tattletale. Was I wrong to report her behavior?”   — Mortified Co-worker

Answer:  Management should definitely hear about anything that may affect customer perceptions. However, the problem may not be what you said, but the way you said it.

Because you really don't like your new colleague, you might have sounded irritated and upset instead of objective and professional. If your boss has previously observed tension between you, he may assume a personality conflict. 

Also, remember that your manager recently decided to hire this woman, so he could be slow to acknowledge her deficiencies. Criticism of her performance might feel like implied criticism of his judgment.

For best results, complaints about co-workers should always be presented in a businesslike manner. For example:  "I wanted to make you aware of a possible problem with the client meeting yesterday. Mr. Smith might have taken offense at some comments Carol made about his company. I just thought you should know in case he mentions it.”

Going forward, try to show your boss that you and your crabby colleague can coexist peacefully. That way, if she continues to cause problems, he may take your concerns more seriously.

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