How to Deal

Don't Let Catty Co-Workers Impact Your Performance

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By Lily Garcia
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, November 22, 2007; 12:00 AM

Two of my co-workers are really friendly with each other and talk every morning. When I come in the office, however, they stop. I try not to let this bother me, but I guess it does. I feel they are both very immature. One of these girls likes to know everyone's business so I avoid her as much as possible. What would be your strategy in handling these co-workers?

We also have different work ethics; they seem to do a lot of socializing when they come in to work, whereas I actually like to do my job. Is there something wrong with me?

Are these co-workers just annoying? Or are they interfering with your ability to get your job done? If their chatter is sufficiently disruptive, it would be appropriate for you to politely request that they keep it down. If they are immature, as you say, they may react dismissively or tease you behind your back. But they are also likely to respect your wishes, however grudgingly.

Regarding their work ethic, does your productivity depend upon their output? If not, then you should figure out a way to let it go. Their work will speak for itself, and so will yours. If their laziness is not hurting you, it is probably just making you look better.

And avoiding your nosey co-worker is not a bad idea. You could also try giving her just enough innocuous personal information that she is satisfied and moves on to bother someone else. It is precisely this type of detachment that you should practice when it comes to the rest of their behavior. If your co-workers stop talking when you approach them, it may mean that they are talking about you. It might also mean that they just don't want you to hear what they are saying for some other reason.

Either way, who cares? Nobody. Unless it is affecting your work, that should include you.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail lilymgarcia@gmail.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered. The information contained in this column is not intended to be legal advice.


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