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I have been working at my company for around 9 months. It is small place and I am having problems with a woman I work with. I was brought in with a couple of other people to drastically expand the company. They have a number of long standing staff who like the status quo and this seems to have made this woman feel threatened.

I really am clueless as to how to handle this one! She has been hostile since day 1. She has done numerous things, mainly nasty comments about me, complaining that I am not doing my job properly even though we are above target for this year and my manager is happy with me. She tried to discredit me to our colleagues and managers. She changes agreed procedures randomly in order to complain that I have not followed them. About two months ago, she tried to take over one of my sales relationships (we are both in sales), mess it up so the customer was complaining, and then get me to take it over. I thought it wise to challenge this as such a clear cut example and hopefully if this was bought to the CEO's attention (at the time, was managing both of us and only a small place), she would not risk similar behaviour again. I took this to our manager as this was a clear cut attempt to offload her work onto a colleague but he just agreed I should now take it on. I later found out she went to talk to him earlier before our meeting and lied saying that it was originally my sales relationship (completely untrue and can prove this from email exchanges). The CEO seems to support her regardless, and I am unsure why except perhaps they just don't want to confront her.

Since then, I thought it best to keep away from her and just ignore it. She is fortunately not based in my office so have been trying avoiding her. We recently had a new manager start and understandably he is keen to sort some of the 'systems' that are not working. These are all because she insists they are done a way that does not work. She continually interferes in my work and demands that I do things differently even though it is not in her remit remotely. It is tricky because if I go along with it I will fail to meet my targets as she is normally trying to get me to undertake my work in a way that I know will not work and will ensure I fail.

Since he has started to challenge her, she has responded by dragging her feet with things he needs her to do, and also become increasingly aggressive towards me. She takes my post so I am not able to respond correctly to it, has complained about me to this manager saying I am not doing my job properly because I was not scheduled to work on a day she decided she needed a question answering urgently. I strongly suspect she is trying to hide she is underqualified to this new manager and pull our team down so she doesn't look like she is underperforming as much as she is.

I got upset when manager pulled me into a meeting about this complaint. I said what has been happening and that I felt she wanted to harass me. I know I should have been more professional but it is just one thing after another. He seemed supportive but unsure what to either. He said he did not understand what she had a problem with either or how I was responsible for this.

Any ideas how to handle her or turn this around? I just dont know what to do.

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    I really suggest you need to read some books on office politics. I would sugest you start as soon as huyman ly possible, This is a situation that can get you fired and you need to learn how to play the game before she destroys you. This is not something that can be answered in a couple of paragraphs. – HLGEM Oct 1 '13 at 15:16
  • @HLGEM great advice – squeemish Oct 1 '13 at 15:41
  • I will do that thank you. I know this is complex but is there any advice you could give as to how to handle to avoid getting fired? – user10687 Oct 1 '13 at 16:01
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    This question is of critical relevance. – enderland Oct 1 '13 at 17:08
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    Generally sales environments are snake pits. Therefore this is part of the territory for this kind of work. Setting that aside, sometimes the reason someone wants someone else 'gone' is that they have something to hide - perhaps they're engaging in kickbacks or sleeping with the boss or whatever. However, you might also have said something at some point that bothered her, either to her face or she overheard it. One friend of mine was working in a cubicle for a municipal agency, and was overhearing a co-worker selling guns during working hours. For some reason she wants him OUT! – Meredith Poor Oct 2 '13 at 6:29
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Document

The first thing you need to do is to keep track of the things she's trying to use to discredit you. It sounds like you're already doing this, with regard to the sales relationship that she tried to sour, but continue to jot them down somewhere private.

(By the way, unless her remarks cross the line into "hostile workplace" territory (e.g., talking about your gender, race, religion, etc.) or are otherwise significantly demeaning, don't keep too close track of things like "she makes rude remarks towards me". You can mention it in passing, but the focus of your issue needs to be "I'm unable to do my job to my best abilities because I'm being hindered".)

Keep track of the occasions when she's taken excessive amounts of time to respond to your requests; write down when you're being pushed to do things "incorrectly" and it costs you extra time. Essentially, if you think you might be asked "what happened with customer X?" and the answer is "I'm waiting on [her]" or "I did it [her] way and spent extra time doing something that didn't end up working out", have something you can point to that backs you up.

Speak to your Manager

Once you have a few examples of things she's done, ask your manager what you should do in these situations. Does he want you to let him know if you've been waiting on her for more than a certain amount of time? Does he want you to tell him when you're being asked to deviate from your normal workflow? Often including your manager as a CC on an email can help to speed up a slow process - but make sure he's expecting it first!

Getting your manager to see the impediments is crucial to moving forward. If he doesn't think there's a problem, then you're unlikely to get help fixing it. If the solution is as simple as "keeping him informed via email", he may be willing to go along with it so that he can see the level of the problem for himself.

Stay Professional

The absolute most important thing you have to do is to stay professional. No matter her reaction or comment, you must stay above it at all times. Don't forward a nasty email from her to anyone just to say "see what I have to put up with?" Don't make a list of "nasty things she's called me this month". Do your best to put it aside.

You could attempt to have your manager overhear some of her verbal remarks by having him listen in on a call, or mention a particularly rude email in the hopes that he'll ask to see it, but you should also assume that she's going to do the same, and don't give her anything to use against you to portray you as the unprofessional one.

(Optional) Recruit Allies

Are you the only one waiting excessively for responses? If not, you could get additional support by having other coworkers also mention to your supervisor (or theirs) that they're being similarly hindered by her actions.

Are you the only one she's rude to? If one coworker is being rude to a large group, the group can speak up and mention that "[she] doesn't seem to get along well with any of us". Conflict between two people can sometimes be brushed off as minor, but conflicts with an entire group / department / division are harder to ignore.

Still, everyone involved has to stay professional; if anyone in the group gets frustrated and lashes out, it gives her complaints more weight and lessens your position.

Last, but not least...

As much as possible, be excellent at your job. Have clients gushing about you. Have your other coworkers talking about how helpful you are. When you become a strong part of the company's success, your opinions will hold more weight, and her ability to demean you will decrease. If you're successful, and you talk to your supervisor about ways to become more successful, they're usually happy to help.

Dealing with interpersonal issues is often the worst part of the work world. Good luck.

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