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My incapable coworker is spoiling the office

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my 30s. I have an older female colleague who is incapable, thereby troubling others.

She needs several days on assignments that others would complete in just one day. It’s apparently because she’s inefficient. She tries to get others to support her when she finds things are getting out of control, saying, “I’m so busy doing too many things.” If we turn her down, she gets angry and says: “I’m working so hard. It’s so unfair to make me do all this.”

She won’t do things that seem difficult to her, giving this and that reason as an excuse. Her attitude has spoiled the atmosphere at our workplace. Although we have asked our boss to deal with the situation, our boss apparently has no idea what to do because she has not improved — no matter how many instructions she’s been given.

I try to avoid her as much as possible, but it’s somewhat difficult as we do the same kind of work in the same small office. Recently, I became irritated just by seeing her. It’s so frustrating that this colleague is overbearing and tries to make others do her work, even though she doesn’t do things well.

It is often said that we should change our way of thinking because we can’t change other people’s. How then, should I change myself? With this in mind, I’ve lost confidence about working at this place.

W, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. W:

Everyone has a different personality. We become well aware of what kind of personality our colleagues have while working together. As you’ve realized, it’s hard for people to change their personalities and patterns of behavior. It is particularly difficult to handle people who are bossy, want to control others, or unreasonably get mad when someone complains about their behavior.

Honestly speaking, I have no idea what to do about this kind of problem, because I’m often described as “having no sense of human relationships.” However, considering my age, I can tell you one thing: Life may be easier if you aren’t so sensitive about others. You notice too many things, like, “This older colleague is incapable of work and not well organized” and, “She won’t do anything difficult.”

Unlike your colleague, I assume you get things done really well. This is why she becomes all the more likely to snap at you for your reasonable responses toward her, and intentionally behaves in an overbearing way. Her attitude makes you feel irritated and brittle. You’re caught in a vicious cycle, I suppose.

I suggest you focus on avoiding her when she tries to force her work upon you. If she gets angry at your response, have the nerve to be insensitive to her by wearing a blank look on your face.

It might be best if she considers you “a person who makes me feel as if I’m beating the air.”

Megumi Hisada, writer

(from Feb. 26, 2018, issue)Speech

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