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How do I deal with a colleague who pretends to be very helpful in meetings only?

I am working for this company for 7 years and we have this person with the same experience, but has been working on our team for around an year.

In meetings with managers and stake holders, she pretends to be knowledgeable and makes comments on my tasks almost every day regardless of me asking for comments or not. But when I reach out to her outside of meetings for further explanation, she declines by saying she is too busy with bogus excuses e.g. I am planning for lunch etc.

I even once asked her while in a meeting to further elaborate and she started jumping around the problem without giving any technical solutions. It was just me and her as the technical representatives in this meeting, so the impression the managers were getting was that she was really helpful -- when in reality she was talking total rubbish technically.

Once my manager told me to help her with some research, as I had worked on something similar before. When I tried to she started becoming rude and said she is fine working on it alone.

Other then that she once asked me how better I am then her as a software engineer and she knows I am paid more then her, which SHE thinks is not fair on her.

Other then that she talks sweet to everyone including me at times.

Oh one thing, when I try to comment on her tasks in meetings.... she starts making points like I don't know anything about her tasks technically.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Masked Man, David K, TrueDub, nvoigt, gnat Dec 14 '16 at 13:16

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    You are missing a basic question ingredient: a question mark. So what exactly is your question? – nvoigt Dec 14 '16 at 10:17
  • "...she knows I am paid more then her, which is not fair on her", and yet you know she's largely all talk. Sounds like the pay situation is correct. It also sounds like you might be believing her hype a bit. – Trebor Dec 14 '16 at 11:32
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    Is your manager in these meetings? – paparazzo Dec 14 '16 at 11:54
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    "When in doubt, mind your own business" is a useful advice in most situations. Most of the remaining situations are covered by "mind your own business". – Masked Man Dec 14 '16 at 12:17
  • How does she know your being paid more? – Mister Positive Dec 14 '16 at 12:39
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If she comes up with great ideas during the meeting, all you have to do is say - in the meeting - "that's a great idea, I'll follow up with you on this one later so you can tell me in detail". And in the next meeting "unfortunately I haven't been able to meet with her at all".

If this happens more than once, then people will notice.

And if your manager asks you to help her, and she refuses, then you tell your manager that you offered to help her, but she told you she was fine doing it by herself. You don't want to risk that she fails and then it is your fault for not helping her as your manager told you.

When someone talks the talk and cannot walk the walk, you take them at face value, you believe what they say, and you act very surprised later if what they said did turn out to be nothing but hot air.

  • also be sure to follow up in email as well, since then it is no longer your word against hers, but is documented: "I followed up x times by email and she told me to bugger off x times" – Marshall Tigerus Jun 14 '18 at 16:00
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In meetings with managers and stack holders, she pretends to know everything and makes comments on my tasks almost every day regardless of me asking for comments or not. But when I reach her out of meetings and ask for further explanation she declines by saying she is too busy with bogus excuses e.g. I am planning for lunch etc.


Oh one thing, when I try to comment on her tasks in meetings.... she starts making points like I don't know anything about her tasks technically.

Let your work output speak for itself. Trying to get involved in tit-for-tat comments in meetings is unprofessional. There are always people that can talk the talk but can't walk the walk. Eventually, these people get found out when they are required to produce output in a pressure situation

Also once my manager told me to help her with a research as I worked on something similar before and when I tried to.. she started becoming rude to me and said she is fine working on it herself.

If she is rude to you then you should mention this behaviour to your manager. Especially if she is preventing you doing a task you were asked to.

Other then that she once asked me how better I am then her as a software engineer and she knows I am paid more then her, which is not fair on her.

It fits in with the "talk the talk" profile. There's no reason to really care if someone else is better than you. If I know(or think) that someone is better than me, I try to learn from them. There will always be better developers around, either in the workplace, or communities like SO. The best thing you can do is learn from them. I agree about her knowing about the pay being unfair, unless you work in fixed pay grades/bands etc.

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I have worked with folks like this in the past, and it can be painful. I do think that the mind your own business approach is best, but that will not work if she is calling you out in meetings where management is present.

The best thing to do, IMHO, is take them to task technically. Be prepared for these meetings, and ask questions that expose her weakness technically. It sucks to do this, but sometimes people need a dose of their own medicine. You should only have to "embarrass" her a couple times before she leaves you alone.

To expand on this:

  1. Any official work that has dependencies she is responsible for, communicate all of it via email. Have a paper trail so you can demonstrate a pattern of ineptitude.
  2. Be professional with her at all times, no personal conversations period. Again all communication with her should be documented if at all possible.
  3. Do not let her slide on the technical details. When something says is is rubbish, point it out professionally and have her explain herself. Ask in a way that is similar to "I did not know you could do that, what control are you using to obtain that functionality".

The goal here is to demonstrate how un-cool her behavior is by giving it back to her. If she stops calling you out, then you go back to minding your own business and leave her alone. At the end of the day, all you are after is for her to not interfere with you doing your job.

Regarding pay: Never ever share pay information with co workers. Unless someone who shouldn't have shared the information with her she really doesn't know how much more you make ( unless the title is JR DEV versus SR DEV ). If she really knows how much you make, and you did not tell her, that is a big HR type problem that I would report.

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