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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Unfriendly Coworkers Make Work Miserable

Dear Sue: After years of trying, I finally landed the job I've always wanted. Now, after just four months, I am miserable. My coworkers make me very uncomfortable, and the person training me gets frustrated so easily that I dread asking her anything. Whenever I ask her a question, she either answers abruptly or gives me a sarcastic response that doesn't help me at all. Another person I work with gets frustrated easily too, and these two women make me feel really dumb, which in turn makes it difficult for me to learn my job. I am a very nice, quiet and sensitive person, but I feel like a child when I ask for help.

Things improved a little after I spoke with my coworkers and my supervisor, but I am still unhappy about going to work. It is very stressful spending an entire day around these two women. I asked to be moved, but was told it wasn't a good idea right now.

I am tired of people taking advantage of me. I've been in the position of training people before, and I would never dream of making anyone feel the way they make me feel. Now I'm thinking of quitting and looking for another job for my peace of mind. If I talk to these women and tell them how I feel I know I'll be ignored because they wonít care. They are very cold women with really bad dispositions. What advice can you give me?

 - Terribly Unhappy

Sue Says: I am sorry you are so unhappy, and I have a feeling my answer will not make you much happier. The advice I have for you is to stop is to stop blaming others for your unhappiness, and take responsibility for how you feel. I believe you when you say you are a nice person, and I am sure it has not been easy to work with these two women, however, I also believe that until you resolve the problems you are dealing with where you are, the same issues will follow you wherever you go.

No matter what company you work in, you are bound to run into people who are rude and people who bring out your feelings of inadequacy. You will never be able to change the actions of others; you can only change your reaction to them. If you feel people take advantage of you, it will continue until you put a stop to it. You need to take more responsibility for how you feel, and the things that affect you and your happiness.

You have no control over these women or anyone else, and no one can make you feel dumb or upset. You do have control over the way you respond to these women, so start responding differently. If you have been meek, work at becoming stronger. If you have been reserved, assert yourself more. I realize it may be difficult, but it is necessary for you to make some changes and determine what works and what doesnít when dealing with others. Donít apologize for asking questions; it is important for you to understand what you need to do. Let them know that you are interested in finding a way to work more effectively together. I have a feeling that these women will continue to treat you the way they do until you stand up to them. You donít need to be combative or argumentative, just be strong and assertive.

Donít let these women push you out of a job or determine your happiness. Continue to be the nice sensitive person you say you are. Use your kindness and sensitivity to work with these women to find some common ground to use as the basis for resolution. It may not be easy and things will not change overnight, but step by step, you can change the things you donít like, and eventually find happiness in your job and in your life. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at asksue@suemorem.com or visit her web site at http://www.suemorem.com

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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