Little Miss Helpful

 Another update from the Jungle…..

Charlotte marched into the office determined to be cheerful. She turned on her computer and then trudged to the break room for a cup of coffee.  Fortified with caffeine, she sat down to read her emails. The opening sentence of the first email left her snarling.  That vicious little twerp!   

The email was from her co-worker, Hannah, asking Charlotte to send a packet of information to a customer. Her email implied that Hannah was once again saving a customer relationship. Naturally the email was copied to their supervisor, Cassie. 

Charlotte was furious. She had been working with that customer for months and had hand delivered the same packet of material several weeks earlier. She was scheduled for a follow up meeting with the customer tomorrow.   She would have explained all that if Hannah had talked to her.  But Hannah rarely coordinated her activities with Charlotte even though their projects often overlapped. 

The dupes in the office thought Hannah was sweet and helpful; they would never believe she intentionally screwed a co-worker.  Hannah didn’t fool Charlotte who recognized Hannah’s symptoms from an earlier point in her own career.  Hannah was young, insecure and she craved approval so that she could feel indispensable. 

After re-reading the email several times, Charlotte decided to wait to knock Hannah into orbit.   Charlotte’s years of experience in office politics made her realize that she’d only sound petty and bitchy if she complained.  She could be patient like a lion lurking in the tall grass waiting for lunch to trot by.

Later that morning at a staff meeting, Hannah droned on as usual reporting all her activities in excruciating detail. Charlotte day dreamed about non-lethal ways to settle the score with the nincompoop. Homemade fudge laced with laxative might hurt others. Boiling oil would ruin the carpet.  Maybe she could accidentally trip Hannah as they left the conference room.

Then she heard her name and blinked away such pleasantries.  Hannah was sanctimoniously reminding everyone in the room that she had asked Charlotte to follow up with the customer.  Cassie smiled fondly at Hannah and turned to raise an eyebrow to Charlotte.

What options are available to Charlotte?

  1. She could sarcastically explain that if Hannah ever bothered talking to her, the idiot would know Charlotte was already taking care of the customer.     
  2. She could start a catfight with Hannah to entertain their co-workers who had grown bored with the celebrity feuds on the internet.       
  3. She could recognize that Hannah’s misbehavior arose from fear and insecurity and let it go. 

Every workplace has insecure people who build themselves up by tearing down others. Rather than testing the limits of the workplace violence policy, use emotional intelligence to recognize the root cause of their obnoxious behavior so that you can calibrate your response appropriately. 

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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You can also follow me at HerSavvy.com. My column appears the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

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