My coworker is purposely annoying me

I am having some difficulty with one of my team members at work. I have dealt with this person by speaking with our manager, asking that she stop her behavior. She was leaving when I leave, showing up when I show up. Just outside every door, I would open and much more. Just seemingly doing everything to get under my skin.

She denied everything.

Tho most of the behavior stopped after the meeting, some of it seems to be surfacing again. 

She seems to come into the locker room any time I’m in there, whether I start early or late. She finds an excuse. Even when I leave and stall she stalls. She’s driving me crazy! What can I do? 

The first question, are you sure this isn’t the “white van is always at the corner” syndrome? That is, you notice it when she’s there, but you don’t see when she’s not? Or, is it “the person is following me in the supermarket” syndrome? That’s where you get all freaked out because someone is following you, but in reality, they are going up and down the aisles in order, just like you are.

It makes sense that the same people would be in the locker room at the same times you are because typically, people come and go at the same times.

In other words, this may not be a problem, and you need to make sure it is before you escalate it.

But, since you’ve talked with her and your manager has spoken with her, and it got better, and now it’s worse, I’ll assume that this is not normal, accidental behavior. Let’s consider what it could be.

Socially awkward behavior.
It is possible that she just wants to be your friend, and doesn’t know how to develop friendships, so she just follows you around. If that’s a possibility, then ask her to get a cup of coffee with you on tomorrow’s break. You may find if you take some time to talk to her, the creeping-around-after-you behavior ends.

Super stalker behavior.
Is this just occurring at work, or is she showing up at the grocery store at the same time you are there? If it’s just at work, it’s annoying but probably harmless. When it leaves the workplace, it’s time to get law enforcement involved.

Trying to be annoying.
I don’t know why she would want to be annoying, but I have a 13-year-old boy who sometimes wants to be annoying because it’s fun. Maybe she hasn’t matured past this stage. In this case, directness is the key to success. You may have thought you were direct before, but often people who participate in this type of behavior don’t hear what we mean, only what we literally say. So you say, “Please stop following me around,” and she hears, “It’s okay to be in the locker room waiting for her, and it’s okay to wait until she leaves for me to leave.”

In this case, you need to be super direct and tell her exactly what your expectations are. Now, keep in mind, if your shifts start and end at the same time, you can’t tell her not to be in the locker room with you. Lay it out clearly and then each time she violates it, say to her, “I’ve asked you not to do that. Do not do that in the future.”

What should happen.
I can’t imagine that if someone is following you around all day, that she’s doing her work effectively. This is where your manager needs to get involved. I know you’ve taken it to the manager already, and it didn’t solve the problem, but it did temporarily improve. Talk to the manager again.

The manager needs to address this from a performance standard. She needs to do her work, which is decidedly not following you around. So, address this with the manager again.

Can you live with this?
If you try these things and it still doesn’t work, you need to ask yourself, “Is this behavior I can live with?” If the answer is yes, then carry on. If the answer is no, look for a new job, find one, and leave. I know it’s unfair. But, sometimes, we can’t fix a situation; we can only leave it.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

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5 thoughts on “My coworker is purposely annoying me

  1. Tricky situation. The alleged transgressions are so subtle, it’s hard to figure out if the coworker really is doing anything wrong or if the complainer is just hyper-sensitive (or even paranoid). Your advice is spot on, though.

  2. Sometimes asking an “innocent” question is a good way to let someone know that you know what they’re up to without having to be confrontational. It’s also a good way to determine if you are, in fact, mistaken. I’d look her right in the eye and in a serious tone, no expression on my face, say “I can’t help but notice that you always seem to leave exactly7 when I leave and that you always have a need to be in the locker room right when I do. What’s up with that?” Her actual answer isn’t important. The point is that, if she has an innocent reason, she should be picking up on the subtext and if she’s a good person, she will give you a solid explanation. But if she does not have an innocent reason, she should pick up on the fact that you’ve put her on notice that she’s not as slick as she thinks she is.

    1. This is how I handled a similar situation and when I asked why she was always in the same restroom at the same time as me (we had 3 to choose from) she lost her temper and started screaming that I was trying to get away with something and other crazy things. Fortunately for me a member of upper management walked in just then so she was out on a PIP almost immediately. I managed to get promoted to a different location a few times; she’s still entry level.

  3. I think that when this happens, your productivity is affected. So, this matter has to be dealt with in a very professional manner. It is important to involve a manager if this starts to be a ‘ritual’ and get it solved as ethically as possible. Talking openly with such person might also be helpful here.

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