John has been with the team for a long time. He started his career as a lawyer (1 year) and then made the shift to become an engineer by getting a degree in computer science. At work, he seems to fluctuate towards more operations and managerial type tasks and rarely if ever takes on any engineering work. We are both titled software engineers and his role has not been introduced to the team as manager of any kind.
The team has to both write code and do operations. Given that we work with a complex, vendor supported product that we ourselves know very little of, it's easy to spend a whole day trying to figure out things and/or work with support. This requires less skill, and indeed, this is the type of activity where John spends most of his time, often complaining about the poor support that we get from our vendor. E.g, his job is more about "managing" a support case, taking in the advice of what steps to follow to fix something than it is technical.
In the same vein, John is someone who is a bit of a wordsmith, knows how to say "no" and/or choose words carefully. It's just what lawyers are trained for after all.
His work rarely seems to be that of engineering or solving real problems, but that of doing work that keeps him fluctuating towards his strengths: speaking and managing expectations, leaving long term fixes (which require writing code) for whoever wants to take on such a challenge. In other words, he does the stuff some engineers (such as myself) are often poor at. On top of this, he has a grudge with me. Could be the sense of threat or could be simply a grudge on something work-related. It's hard to tell, it dates a bit, but only got worse now that we work closely in a team of 3 (myself, him and another) and I could never really put my finger on why this happened.
- He singles out every one of my mistakes but doesn't act the same towards others. No one else behaves like it. We all perform similar levels of mistakes (at least those of us writing code).
- He is prone to shoot down my suggestions choosing words that inspire drama and without the use of hard, scientific or factual data, often belittling my constructive suggestions.
- Interacting with him hasn't gotten toxic to the point basic communication is withdrawn, but it's obvious neither of us is in the good prayers of the other or trust each other. In addition, he seems to be making headway towards becoming the manager of our current team. This could be disastrous for me.
The impact on me is that every time there is an interaction I'm expecting the worse, I'm therefore defensive and even the simplest of things cause me to tense up a lot and my emotions go into overdrive. I'm also in a constant state of anxiety and paranoia is settling, which makes me fear for my mental health. Work is also losing satisfaction, which is the biggest bummer.
In general, I feel as though that anything I do wrong is heightened by John and anything I do well is either downplayed or not mentioned at all.
So I'm seeking advice. What are my self-development options to handle this situation better?
What could I possibly do to deal with someone at work with what seems like sociopath behaviors, who seems bent on bullying me the whole time?
I have spoken to my manager before about the cases I was singled out. I told my manager I didn't want him to take action as I could handle myself well, but, I believe he ended up having a chat with the person regardless. Things improved, but not substantially.
However, I feel as though he stands on better ground with my manager, given they are both originally from the same country and culture and have been working longer together.