toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

December 16, 2006

co-worker sabotage

Lara is 27, married with three children, and severely stressed in her present job by her work being sabotaged by a jealous co-worker.

"If someone's nose was put out of joint by your being hired or promoted," says Lara, "that person will sabotage everything you do and try to make your life misery. I’m covering my back, taking precautions against losing any more important work, backing up on disk everything I do on a computer and generally not allowing the saboteur to undermine my confidence - but it’s still a very stressful situation for me."

"This is a different kettle of fish from a hostile or an abusive person," says Lara, "because the saboteur is very nice to my face. She laughs about the sabotage and denies doing it, but I know it’s her. The sabotage is mostly practical jokes at my expense, but it has been going on for a long time and I am sick and tired of it."

"I had hoped," explains Lara, "that after the saboteur got to know and respect me that she’d realize it wasn’t my fault that I got the promotion she wanted, but she’s been doing it for so long now that I suspect she’s damaged, possibly mentally unstable."

"I haven’t reported the sabotage," explains Lara, "because I didn’t want to risk being labeled a ‘complainer’ and I thought it would stop one day, and now I don’t know what to do."

"Actually," admits Lara, "I feel sorry for the saboteur - she’s a middle aged woman with little opportunity because of her age and health problems to win the promotion I got. The company is at fault, really, because it processed the promotions while she was in hospital. I’m copping her toxic anger, when it should really be directed at management."

"This whole situation reminds me of my older sister who gave me hell during my childhood because I was the baby of the family and got all the attention," sighs Lara. "When I was old enough to realize how hurt my sister was I felt sorry for her, but it didn’t do any good. She still doesn’t speak to me. And, like my present situation, it’s not my fault!"

"As I see it," says Lara, "my work situation is caused by a failure of management to address the saboteur's grievances, and my childhood situation was caused by my parents’ failure to address my older sister’s grievances. They should have treated her fairly. Why should I cop all the flak?"

Like most working moms, Lara has to deal with constant crises at home and really cannot cope with difficulties at work. She’s working to supplement her husband’s salary and if her situation at work doesn’t resolve itself then she would prefer to be transferred, or find another job, or just not work at all.

"Life’s too short to put up with all this," sighs Lara. "I feel that the older woman had a prior right to the promotion - she’s been with the company longer than I have - and I really don’t want to be the person depriving her of more money and prestige. Mostly, though, I just don’t want to be in a job where I have to constantly watch my back, waiting for the next round of sabotage."

"If I ever look for another job," says Lara, "I’ll be asking at the interview stage if anyone currently employed by the company has been overlooked for the position I’m applying for. The prospect of putting up with another saboteur would be awful!"

"My husband thinks I’m silly for not reporting the woman," sighs Lara, "but until you’re in a situation like I am you can’t say how you’ll react. I suppose I could set traps for the woman and catch her red-handed, but what good would that do? She’s pleasant enough to my face now, but if I came down hard on her she would turn into a madwoman and make me more miserable than I am already."

"Even as a little kid, when my big sister was hiding my school books and tearing up my homework," explains Lara, "I just put up with it. What else could I have done?"

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