I have been in my current position for about a year and a half now (have been with the organization for closer to 4 years) and my coworker was hired shortly after I got this position for a supporting role. Both of us were assigned to a project that should have been done well over a year ago as of today and it's been slowly inching along with me as the sole person with development expertise on it. However it's been dragging on so long without much progress so it is getting disheartening.

In addition, in my organization, everyone tends to end up being a jack of all trades (which is a topic for another discussion) so they assigned her to start doing development on a separate project as well about a year ago. To put it bluntly, she just doesn't have the head for it and for about half of the shared project, I've had to basically do the work vicariously through her. I've explained the technical details multiple times to her and they never seem to sink in. We're now at the last stage of development, she has run out of her tasks to do and I'm pretty much stuck working on the final section by myself but needing her and our client's input on some of the business rules.

The problem is that she has moved essentially full time to her independent project and is constantly harassing me for questions about "Why did this break? can you help me with this? I don't understand this and it's pissing me off." Not only that but I also get to hear all the details about her personal life completely unsolicited and I would prefer to not hear them. I believe at one point she had a crush on me but I entered a relationship with someone outside the organization shortly after this project started and am now happily married. In addition, this coworker has a boyfriend of her own and has been with him for about 6 months. If I ignore her Teams messages, she gets very upset and says she is very annoyed. Some days she will even put through voice calls and try and chew me out for ignoring her. Starting today I started putting my Teams on Do Not Disturb but the problem with that is I miss notifications for work that actually is a priority. She has admitted to me that she sees a therapist for certain mental conditions and because of that I am also a little concerned that if I continue to ignore her, she'll try to get me into trouble with our shared boss. I believe my boss wouldn't tolerate it but she is chummy with his boss and I don't feel he has the gumption to stand up and make things right. Another thing I have tried is being a little "snarky" and probably passive aggressive. Not surprisingly this hasn't really worked and potentially made things worse.

To make matters even more worse, I work permanently from home and she is in the office with a cube directly across from our boss. I'm really not sure the best course of action especially considering I do need some information she has but really everything else she is doing is completely distracting and I don't want to look bad because I don't have direct access to my boss like she does to avoid her potentially falsely disparaging me.

How do I proceed so that I can continue to work with her on a civil, professional level so that the organization can meet it's goals but stop her from a) talking about her personal life and b) distracting me from my own work by work that she has been assigned to do herself?

  • 2
    I have seen this question: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/164180/… and it is a similar situation but it isn't quite the same because she won't be the one potentially looking bad, and as I stated, I don't have enough confidence in my management that they will resolve this and I am pretty confident that I am the only one she is doing this too so multiple complaints from other people won't help alleviate the problem. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:45
  • I agree, it's a different question. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 14:57
  • Regarding Teams, you can put individual users on Mute without having to globally apply Do Not Disturb. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


You should develop your ability to set boundaries. You describe a lot of problems, all of which can be solved with a simple "sorry, I'm busy" or "sorry, I won't be able to help you".

Incompetent people who will try to make their tasks yours are omnipresent. Similarly, people going about their lives and not noticing the listeners aren't interested. These situations are extremely frequent in both the workspace and private life.

Develop your ability to say "no" and your life will become much easier.


Unfortunately you have to just brutally and relentlessly repeat the phrase

Sorry, I'm too busy just now

and for anything at all regarding the "other" project

Sorry, I am not able to do anything on that project.

Follow the usual rules

  1. Absolutely do not in ANY WAY "explain" yourself. Do not "explain" why you are busy, etc. Just blankly state the sentences above unaltered.

  2. Adopt an absolutely robotic-like completely impersonal tone - totally avoiding any rudeness, and any emotion.

Regarding the fact that the person "has the bosses ear". Very unfortunately there is simply literally nothing you can do about that. Disastrous office-politics situations do happen, and, the ultimate outcome is sometimes "you have to leave". There's just literally nothing, at all, can be done about that, so, that's that.

If you simply follow - strictly - the two rules 1-2 above, the issue is resolved.

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