T Nation

Dealing With Snarky Coworkers


#1

How do you guys deal with snarky coworkers without flipping out on them or punching them in face. This is another day at the office where I have to deal with these passive aggressive anal retentive pussies and I'm trying to cool down before resolving the issue.

As someone who is very forward and to the point, I find it really difficult to deal with issues like snide comments at work, so I usually end up just walking away for 20 minutes.

Really, I am trying not to take this person seriously, but I just want to scream right now.


#2

I deal with this sometimes. Be sincere, direct, and curt, the only indication that you are aware of his/her attitude a slight air of dismissive contempt. Imagine Don Draper (in a bad mood) interacting with a Gawker blogger. If s/he is even slightly self-aware, s/he will get embarrassed and shut up.

Unless, of course, you can just go ahead and tell them to act more professionally/more like an adult. Many work-related situations forbid this kind of frankness.


#3

I ended up doing the former actually, and you were right she did get embarrassed. I just said if she wants to discuss whatever further to stop by my desk. She basically put her head down and said “ok”

However, earlier when I was really fuming I said outloud to myself “Another day Id rather be cleaning toilets than dealing with this BS.”

I really need to work on chilling out around here. Im really, really not comfortable with this office etiquette, even after working here 14 months.


#4

Care to give us some insight into the situation?

For me, it really depends on the situation - I’m pretty straight forward and to the point when collaborating with co-workers on any project. For the most part, I take the lead and set to tone which tends to alleviate any kind of passive-aggressive or snarky comments. However, in the past, when confronted with someone with a rotten attitude, I’ve found a way to address their shitty attitude in a way that controls the situation without making them feel attacked (attacking them, in my experience, or approaching the situation negatively yourself, tends to only escalate their shitty behavior rather than alleviate, which is the optimal outcome.).

To do this I’ll usually find a way to address it one on one or, in a very neutral tone, say something along the lines of, “That attitude/comment is not helping us accomplish (insert goal here)” … and then I’ll just power forward with whatever it is we’re working on. Another variation is “I don’t appreciate your comment/attitude at the moment - it’s not contributing to our goal” or something like that. Again, stay neutral as if you’re swatting an annoying fly. Because, honestly, that’s all that type of behavior is is an annoyance and detrimental to a cohesive group project or environment.

Of course, sometimes, if it’s not really a pervasive behavior, ignoring it might be the best approach. Not even acknowledging it and just keep moving forward with project, usually. Keep in mind, this person might have some other shit you don’t know about going on (kind of like you do … I know you have some difficult things in your life right now which could affect your mood at work of which you may not be aware). If it’s not affecting the outcome of whatever it is you’re working on, don’t give it any attention.

So, again, it really depends on with whom I’m working, our relationship both professionally and personally, and whether or not that person is usually a dink, or this atypical behavior. But again, I generally take the lead and set the tone of most collaborations with co-workers and tend to have great working relationships with them - even those who have been known to be snarky dicks to others.


#5

2 Avenues:

Genuine sincerity. If someone gives you a bad attitude, stop whatever you’re doing/talking about and ask “Hey, is everything ok?” Most people are so used to their attitude going unchecked that they develop some sort of immunity complex, and when “challenged” on it with concern/empathy, they tend to realize that they’re being a bitch for no good reason. Occasionally though, they may explode at you, but at least now whatever the issue was is out in the open and you can talk about it like adults and hopefully resolve it.

Alternative: Point it out with “anti-humor”. If someone makes a sarcastic quip, comment on their “wit”. “Hah! I get it. I asked how the project was going and you said ‘great’, but you meant it was going POORLY! That’s very funny.” I’ve actually gotten away with murder by doing this in office settings. It calls out the elephant in the room but maintains levity.


#6

The situation:
Basically, I worked on a form and filled out the wrong portion by mistake. Luckily, I saved the old form so it wouldn’t require doing the thing over again. This person is rude in general (I’ve seen her talk down to people regularly) but usually does not talk to me. Well, she made a nasty comment about this form (literally takes 20 minutes to fill out and it was my first time filling it out) and I really wanted to tell her where the bear shits in the woods (on her desk, actually), but instead I took a 20 minute walk, hit the wall, cursed, then walked back to my desk. I had another question for her and she answered that rudely too, that time I kept my cool but was still pissed. At some point in time I said to my cube mate that Id rather clean toilets or shovel shit at a park. I finished this form and gave it back to her and told her if she has further comments or issues to please talk to me directly. She kept her head down and said ok.

What drives me nuts too, aside from this, is she was nagging me to get this form out the door, when the group that had it before me sat on it for 3-4 months, and now I’m getting nagged at to finish it in 1 week. It doesn’t take long to do, but the hypocrisy and complacency gets under my skin too much.


#7

fill out the form correctly next time, dumbass


#8

[quote]Yogi wrote:
fill out the form correctly next time, dumbass[/quote]

hahahaha


#9

[quote]polo77j wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
fill out the form correctly next time, dumbass[/quote]

hahahaha[/quote]

Lol!

Seriously though, this shit happens Aero and it doesn’t go away. I just try and remember they don’t pay my bills and if I explode and lose my job my bills will still need to be paid.


#10

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The situation:
What drives me nuts too, aside from this, is she was nagging me to get this form out the door, when the group that had it before me sat on it for 3-4 months, and now I’m getting nagged at to finish it in 1 week. It doesn’t take long to do, but the hypocrisy and complacency gets under my skin too much. [/quote]

Just as a practice pointer, I generally make fixing other peoples fuck ups a high priority. Sitting on any simple project for 3-4 months is a fuck up, IMO. She was nagging you to get the project out the door because someone else fucked up and sat on it and this was an opportunity to separate yourself from the rest of the fuck ups.

How do you think your performance would have been perceived by making this a priority and simply turning the project around an hour later, as opposed to tossing it on your pile and waiting another week to turn an already delayed project? Even if you had made the same mistake, I can guarantee that the mistake would have been forgiven more easily if you had jumped on it rather than dragging your feet.


#11

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
How do you guys deal with snarky coworkers without flipping out on them or punching them in face. This is another day at the office where I have to deal with these passive aggressive anal retentive pussies and I’m trying to cool down before resolving the issue.

As someone who is very forward and to the point, I find it really difficult to deal with issues like snide comments at work, so I usually end up just walking away for 20 minutes.

Really, I am trying not to take this person seriously, but I just want to scream right now. [/quote]

It sounds like you took way too long to do something that should have been done quickly and correctly. The previous department’s foot-dragging does not excuse yours. “Anal retentive” is not a negative quality in professional settings that require precision. It sounds like what you perceived as snide may have simply been irritation.

But to answer your question, if I’m in the mood to fuck with people I’ll take someone who’s being passive-aggressive or sarcastic at face value. Otherwise I politely ask for clarification. If I’ve delayed anything or messed up in any way I apologize, which is simply the right thing to do. I’m being paid to do good work; it’s what I indicated that I would do when I applied for the position.


#12

Well, the funny thing is when I first got this assignment in January I dropped everything to get it out the door on time. It was out of my hands in Feb, and these people sat on it until May. It took them 4 months to do what I did in 3 weeks, and there is no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem. So when I am nagged to get something done quickly, when another group goofs off for 4 months, but I am told it is “urgent”, I am sorry but I cant take it seriously. I thought a week would be enough time (not to mention the snarky person was on vacation all last week) to go through the motions…


#13

You’re a very sensitive fellow.


#14

[quote]dt79 wrote:
You’re a very sensitive fellow.[/quote]

Annoyed more than anything.

Edit:
And I am just generally sick of everything, which is wearing my tolerance further. And I have a god damn pest infestation in my apartment that the landlord wont address (called the board of health today). Like I said in another thread, I feel like shit.


#15

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
It took them 4 months to do what I did in 3 weeks, and there is no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem. So when I am nagged to get something done quickly, when another group goofs off for 4 months, but I am told it is “urgent”, I am sorry but I cant take it seriously.[/quote]

You fail to look at this from the point of view of someone who really needs this done. The complete fuckup of the 4 month group does not mean you can do the same - it means your time to do it gets cut in half. That’s how projects work.


#16

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
It took them 4 months to do what I did in 3 weeks, and there is no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem. So when I am nagged to get something done quickly, when another group goofs off for 4 months, but I am told it is “urgent”, I am sorry but I cant take it seriously.[/quote]

You fail to look at this from the point of view of someone who really needs this done. The complete fuckup of the 4 month group does not mean you can do the same - it means your time to do it gets cut in half. That’s how projects work.[/quote]

I understand where you are coming from, my point being how can one say something “needs” to get done, yet permit multi month delays along some chains of the command? It seems hypocritical and not conducive to maintaining deadlines and it also sends mixed messages. When I am project lead, for example, I do my best to hold everyone to the same standards and the results are usually favorable.

Another thing, it is pretty common for people to have 4-5 projects going on at once and therefore priority is important to make deadlines. When someone down the line decides to goof off without accountability, there is no incentive to make said work a priority.

For example, if I asked you to clean half my garage, told you it needed to be done in 1 day, and told you I would clean my half the following, but actually not do it for 2 weeks, would you take me seriously when I asked you to get something done right away?


#17

Finally an interesting thread. Here’s the advice you’ll probably ignore, kill them with kindness. Snarky people look for reactions in people. If you reaction is to be nice (watch the movie Roadhouse for more info) they don’t see any fun in that and move on. If someone is especially rude to me, and lots of people are because I am a recruiter, I usually react with, “Are you having a bad day?” I turned around many adversarial conversations with that stupid little question.

Angry people are almost always angry because they want to be heard. Really, everyone wants someone to just listen to them. There is some issue, problem, situation etc., that they feel the victim of and lots of times no one else give a shit about listening, so if you do, you might make a friend instead of you knuckles all red because you hit a wall like a high school kid who cant find a date for the prom.


#18

[quote]Aero51 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
It took them 4 months to do what I did in 3 weeks, and there is no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem. So when I am nagged to get something done quickly, when another group goofs off for 4 months, but I am told it is “urgent”, I am sorry but I cant take it seriously.[/quote]

You fail to look at this from the point of view of someone who really needs this done. The complete fuckup of the 4 month group does not mean you can do the same - it means your time to do it gets cut in half. That’s how projects work.[/quote]

I understand where you are coming from, my point being how can one say something “needs” to get done, yet permit multi month delays along some chains of the command? It seems hypocritical and not conducive to maintaining deadlines and it also sends mixed messages. When I am project lead, for example, I do my best to hold everyone to the same standards and the results are usually favorable.

Another thing, it is pretty common for people to have 4-5 projects going on at once and therefore priority is important to make deadlines. When someone down the line decides to goof off without accountability, there is no incentive to make said work a priority. For example, if I asked you to clean half my garage, told you it needed to be done in 1 day, and told you I would clean my half the following, but actually not do it for 2 weeks, would you take me seriously when I asked you to get something done right away?[/quote]

Just to touch on a theme I’m picking up - Don’t set priorities based on what other people did … that’s a recipe for disaster. Set your priorities to your level of standard and hold yourself accountable. If you focus on what other people did/do then you’re just going to drive yourself nuts, especially since it seems you set the bar high for yourself.

The questions your asking don’t need to be answered by you. It’s not your job to hold anyone else accountable except for yourself (and possibly your team if you’re the lead or a supervisor). If people in another section are goofing off and dragging their feet, try your best not to care as much as you do. Hold yourself and your team to a higher standard and make those jabronies look dumb.

Even if it’s not apparent that anyone noticed/notices, know, more than likely, someone does. There’s someone who wants/needs this task(s) done that has a vested interest in who is doing it better (best). Even if they don’t tell you everytime, they notice.


#19

A year, month or week from now, nobody is going to remember whether or not you filled out a form correctly. What they will remember is that this other person acted like an unprofessional ass hole. Rise above it and they will remember you for that.


#20

[quote]Aero51 wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
You’re a very sensitive fellow.[/quote]

Annoyed more than anything.

Edit:
And I am just generally sick of everything, which is wearing my tolerance further. And I have a god damn pest infestation in my apartment that the landlord wont address (called the board of health today). Like I said in another thread, I feel like shit. [/quote]
Why don’t you just take care of it yourself? (the pest infestation)

I mean, technically it’s not your responsibility, but it is your problem. If it bothers you, take care of it, and if you choose to, send your landlord the bill. It’s actually possible they have more important things to worry about than your problems.

Typically, for my own piece of mind, it’s just much easier to take care of the things that are important to me, since the costs (being infested with whichever pests, being annoyed with the landlord, making phone calls that aren’t going anywhere) often aren’t worth it.