My company has clients that are a 4 hour drive away from the office. Sometimes the project teams have to visit the Clients for update meetings. The last time this was the case the project manager asked if I was available to go with her. Fortunately, I was not.

This particular coworker is obnoxious, constantly deriding other workers and bad-mouthing the Clients. It is really discouraging being around her. I generally avoid her like the plague. However, I cannot control the projects I'm assigned with her. In office, I can minimize my time with her. However, I cannot stomach the idea that I will have to travel a long way with her again. I have no idea what nasty things she will say.

I have asked her multiple times to be more professional. I have told our department manager about her toxic behavior, but since she brings special project skills that they do not want to lose, they say nothing to her. I wish I never had to work with her. I do not know how much longer I can Dodge the dreaded long drive of misery.

I even fear that I'll end up telling her off and she'll decide to make my life miserable.

This is part of the reason I'm trying to get a different job. But until that happens how can I avoid long, close contact?

I was thinking of filling my calendar with meetings every day on other projects, so I am never available. Any other advice?

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    Have the company explicitly asked you to carpool? Unless they do so there is no reason not to travel separately and you should claim expenses that you incur as usual. After all it isn't you who picked clients that are 4 hours distant and it isn't you creating a hostile environment which prevents car pooling. – P. Hopkinson Aug 18 '19 at 11:36
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    Not explicitly, it is implied, as we always want to be efficient in our use of resources. – user107558 Aug 18 '19 at 11:40
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    Solution: The Ramones, volume set at 11 – Fustigador Aug 19 '19 at 14:37
  • Tell her to drive. Put on ear phones and say you need to rest. Then pretend to sleep. – dan-klasson Oct 14 '19 at 8:06

As mentioned in the comments already, one option is to drive yourself separately, with the simple truthful explanation that you prefer to travel separately. You may possibly have to do so at your own expense.

Another option is to bring a third party along so it’s not just you who has to bear the brunt of her behavior. An extra witness might be helpful if your leadership or HR ever gets the guts to do something about her behavior.

Probably the most easily implemented option is to bring some work to do in the car and plug in some headphones so you can concentrate.

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    Yes: headphones (unless you're driving). Listen to technical training podcasts. If you're driving, listen on your car's speakers. If you're not driving listen on the headphones. If your colleague starts to mouth off, ask her to be quiet so you can year. – O. Jones Aug 19 '19 at 10:42
  • If you feel the need to justify why you are travelling seperately you could always say that you need to do something on the way there or the way back (4 hour drive means the whole day out of the office?). I would share, but I'm going to meet some friends on the way back / I would but I'm going to drop by my mums on the way back, so I'll go seperately – Smock Aug 19 '19 at 13:02

One of the biggest assets in the workplace, perhaps in many other facets of life as well, is to train yourself if not to get on with diverse people, at least not to let them bother you in terms of your own mental state.

I have worked with extremely toxic people, it's just a matter of changing your perspective.

If you value your job then make a mental shift. If not, quit.

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    I like to remind myself that when I'm obsessing over someone who annoys me, that I am giving them rent free room in my head. I then promptly evict them from my thoughts. – Stun Brick Aug 19 '19 at 8:37
  • While this is great advice in general, if the coworker's behavior is actually toxic (as opposed to just annoying), "just ignore them" allows the bad behavior to continue. Not that it's everyone's responsibility to fix toxic people, but ignoring toxic behavior is a silent condoning. – raumkrieger Aug 19 '19 at 16:56
  • This is a really terrible answer. "Getting sexually harrassed? Just ignore it!", "Boss punches you in the face before lunch every day? Just make a mental shift!" Absolutely asinine. – DetectivePikachu Aug 20 '19 at 20:14
  • Yes, insisting that people experiencing toxicity that creates a hostile work situation should "just let it go!" "make a mental shift!" "just think of rainbows!" opens the door up to your argument being applied to other completely unacceptable workplace behavior. Please tell me you aren't in any sort of management, and if you are please tell me what company so I know to avoid it. – DetectivePikachu Aug 20 '19 at 20:22
  • I'm pretty much retired so no worries avoiding me, have a great day. – Kilisi Aug 20 '19 at 20:24

I recommend creating other activities that you need to do on the way there or the way back. This is not the same situation exactly, but in a previous job, I had to ride long distances with my boss. He was a nice man, but if we ever had a longer day trip and had to expense lunch, which was often, he would take full advantage by drinking several beers over lunch... To the point where I felt unsafe driving back with him. So I created excuses. "My friend lives near the client's office, I will be seeing her afterward so we should go separately." "I'm attending a concert that evening and our client is on the way." "The client is near that outlet mall and I want to go shopping afterward." Some of these excuses were even true! I also tried offering to drive (since, again, this is not the same situation and my boss was perfectly pleasant, even while drunk), but company policy was that the most senior person has to drive or everyone has to drive separately.

  • @JoeStrazzere I thought it was strange too, but I didn't ask for the rationale. – Max A. Oct 14 '19 at 1:27

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