Pinings — Advice by Sherry Hughes

The Difficult Coworker

Dear Pinings,

What do you do when a coworker becomes so difficult to deal with that you want to quit your job? I canít really consider quittingóat least not right nowó because of money issues. But it doesnít feel as if I can continue to work with him either.

My coworker, Peter, is a nice enough guy, I guess, but he really gets on my nerves. He sucks up to the managers, saying things that are so fakeówell, itís hard to believe anyone believes the stuff he says, but they do.

I only work on a couple of projects with him directly, but even that small amount of time has become extremely difficult. I am the senior employee, but I donít have any kind of management position or anything. I am more experienced though, so I know some shortcuts. I listen to suggestions he makes (and some of them work) but often, if I disagree with him, he just loses it. He gets angry and although he doesnít raise his voice, itís still hard to listen toó itís a little unsettling.

Twice now, Iíve talked to my supervisor about it, but she seems to think itís a personality conflict that I need to resolve with him.

Other coworkers have had run-ins with Peter too, but he seems to have the managers completely snowed.

I donít want to have anything to do with him. I am really feeling anxious lately when we have to work together. There has never been anyone Iíve had problems working withóIím a pretty easygoing person. I am feeling as if I am not left with many choices.

- Katrina

Dear Katrina,

It certainly seems as if you are in a difficult spot.

You say that other coworkers have had the same difficulties youíve had. I suggest you gather them together and meet with your supervisor again to discuss the problem. Either that, or insist on working with Peter and another person on the projects you share with him. That might keep him in line somewhat.

Most importantly, be sure to document the meetings you have with your supervisors and what happens in the meetings you have with Peter. I say this because if you do decide to leave at some point, youíll want to let the managers know exactly why.

Money and job security is nothing to sneeze at. Leaving a job isnít easy, especially if youíve been there for a while or if you really like where you are. At the same time, if you are experiencing anxiety and fear in the workplace, something needs to change. If you arenít able to convince your supervisors that this is more than a personality conflict, you may need to transfer to a different department or leave the company.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Reach her at

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH