The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female company worker in my 30s. My boss’ wife often comes to our workplace with gifts, but it’s actually very difficult for me.
The company has a family-like atmosphere. Male workers seem to feel the wife is considerate to her husband’s subordinates and are grateful to her. I’m the only woman in our section and her attitude to me is very different. Before leaving, she always tells me disagreeable things like, “You’re dressed like a homeless person.”
Once, when she saw me having a friendly chat with a male worker, she sent me a critical e-mail saying that I flirt with men. To be honest, she is a nuisance.
My boss has contributed much to the company, so nobody can disobey his wife either. She even attends workplace drinking sessions. I told a senior worker who has worked at the company for many years about my problem and asked for advice. The senior worker said to me: “Any workers who had trouble with the couple eventually left the company. If you want to continue working here, just endure it.”
The wife seems to speak ill of me to my boss, so my relations with him are souring. Do I have to endure this situation by accepting it as part of my work?
Y, Osaka Prefecture
Dear Ms. Y:
Your boss’ wife seems to be popular among men at your workplace. She’s probably aware of it and makes efforts to be considerate to them.
As she is happy about being treated politely by her husband’s subordinates, she is becoming more and more displeased by noticing you aren’t welcoming her. In addition, as you are young and the only woman at your workplace, she feels all the more offended by the sight of you, out of jealousy.
It’s difficult for many women to deal with this type of woman. It would be safer for you not to compete with her and try not to attract her attention as much as possible. Treat her as an important visitor to the company. Even if she tells you something uncomfortable, accept it calmly like a complaint from a customer and don’t offend her. You also don’t have to feel miserable by doing so.
However, whether you can cope with this matter in that way depends on how much you feel your work is rewarding. If you like your work and think it worth doing, you should put this problem behind you. If you feel handling this matter is just foolish, you should conclude that you aren’t so attached to your work and start applying your energy to looking for another worthwhile job.
Masami Ohinata, professor