Ask Kari: How can I stop my co-worker from constantly bullying me?

Dear Kari,

I work in a small department in a large company. I have been with the organization for 8 years and have been able to grow my career at a good pace until now. I have a co-worker who is out to ruin my reputation. She constantly comments on everything from the grammar in my emails to the clothes that I wear to work. Nothing is wrong with either, but for whatever reason she makes snide remarks about me in front of others and I can tell people are paying attention to her comments. She has no boundaries! What do I do to make her stop?

Tired of the Office Bully

Dear Tired,

I am sorry that you are struggling in your workplace. It can be very stressful to have to engage in uncomfortable social dynamics with someone who does not respect you. Since you made no mention of talking with your colleague, I would start there. I suggest that you ask to speak with her privately. State your feelings in detail, providing her with examples of how she has been rude to you. Then gage her response: if she apologizes, accept her apology and move on. If she becomes defensive and denies her actions, state in no uncertain terms that you expect her to no longer speak to you in a condescending way and keep your boundaries up moving forward whenever you encounter her. As Maya Angelou says, “when people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”


As published in the April 2013 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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