What's your problem? Rude colleagues

I can't stand my colleague. What can I do about it?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 02 Mar 2012

Q. I've recently returned to work three days a week after maternity leave. I was involved with recruiting my job-share partner while on leave, but now I'm working with her, I can't stand her. We cross over one day a week, during which she's rude and obsessed with online shopping. What can I do about it?

A. My first and rather boring piece of advice is to give it a bit more time.

Presumably, this job share partner got used to working on her own (or with someone else) while you were on maternity leave. Then, after several months like that, you came back. However tactfully you managed your re-entry, there may well have been a bit of unspoken competition over territory and seniority.

I'm in no way blaming you for this colleague's behaviour. However long you give it, the chances are that something will still need to be done. But since you've only recently returned to work, any tension between the two of you is likely to be at its most raw.

Another good reason for waiting a while is that it will allow your line manager - responsible for both of you, I imagine - to observe for herself what's going on. If your colleague's rudeness and obsession with online shopping continue, it surely won't go unobserved.

So when you finally feel you simply have to take some action, and you put in a measured request to your line manager that you should be paired with a different job-share partner, your manager should already be halfway there. And, importantly, you will be seen to have shown admirable restraint. In the meantime, do everything you can to conceal your antipathy: it would be a great pity if it degenerated into a war of words between the two of you, with your manager reluctant to take sides.

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