problem (perhaps mentally unstable) coworker - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 02-20-2007, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She is in freak out mode again.

I think the girl I work with has some kind of paranoid fixation on me. It is really hard to deal with - she interprets everything I do so strangely (and hostilely) and/or makes little stuff up (that she seems to believe). We work in a really small office, just three graduate assistants (the other ga is her good firend), and we work for my dissertation director, so it is very stressful. And I am spending WAY to much time thinking about it. I think her paranoia is even making me paranoid! (I'll be taking to a department colleague and start wondering what she's said to them about me; I'll be writing an office e-mail and start rewriting it 10 times, trying to phrase things in such a way that won't lead to one of her weird overreactions).

I don't know what to do. Any advice will be approciated.

She literally fabricated a "problem" I supposedly caused a couple months ago, but mostly it is just her interpretating everything I do as 1) my trying to take change, 2) my causing some kind of problem (usually by my trying to take charge) or 3) my assuming she isn't doing her job. I've tried not dealing with her - but that is now causing her to accuse me of doing things behind her back and/or of causing problems by not letting her know stuff in time (there is one thing I should have let her know earlier - but i was dreading e-mailing her cause I knew she would freak out and the consequence of not letting her know in time was very minor.)

help. i have no idea what to do. My dissertation director is sort of aware of the situation cause the girl keeps going to her to complain about me (and diss director thinks there may be a mental problem with coworker - we talked about it when the fabricated problem happened a couple months ago), but diss director mostly doesn't want to have to deal with it. I do worry that some of my coworker's tales to my dissertation director will be belived.
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#2 of 7 Old 02-20-2007, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, so I may be using this more as a blog. Here is a list of the things she has misinterpreted two fairly short (and I think clear) e-mails sent last week:

1) That I think there is a big problem with X (I don't)
2) That I told our boss there was a problem with X (I didn't)
3) That our boss thinks there is a big problem with X (i don't think she does)
4) That my saying "ideally we'll have all X done by the 20th" was me setting a deadline (it wasn't really - more of a wish)
5) That I am not involved with X, (i am), so that 1-4 above means I have a problem with her work and am setting a deadline for her
6) That I tried to fix the non-existant problem with X by doing Y, which could potentionally cause a problem (I did do Y, but it wasn't a fix - it was me responding to a request, and i cc'd her on it so she should have seen that it was a response to a request)

this week she decides I requested Z for just me and not her (though I forwarded the e-mail where I requested it for the both of us last week) and that I am withholding needed information from her about A (I sent it as soon as I had it).

But I don't think facts (in parentheses) can penetrate the worldview she has built about me. it is so frustrating I want to cry.

thanks for reading.
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#3 of 7 Old 02-20-2007, 08:12 PM
 
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#4 of 7 Old 02-20-2007, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by vannienicole View Post
I don't know what to say but . Is there a way to takl to your diss director again and tell her about the hostile work environment again? Say that it's affecting your work? Again I don't know though.
Thanks, it does kinda does help to just write it all down. It is affecting my dissertation writing (but if it wasn't this - I'd probably be distracting myself with something else . . . ).
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#5 of 7 Old 02-20-2007, 11:16 PM
 
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Well first off, I would cc my boss on everything that I send her. You've discussed the concerns with her, so this is a good way to CYA if psycho starts to complain too much. And actually at this point I think I'd confront her head on. Ask her, for example, why she thinks you are withholding information from her when the time/date stamp on the e-mail you forwarded to her was only minutes before her e-mail from you. Have very specific examples that have a valid paper trail. A lot of times that will be enough to make a person back down. Good luck!!

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#6 of 7 Old 02-21-2007, 02:44 AM
 
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Here's what I would do:

1. Document, document, document. Every time you have one of these exchanges with her (written or verbal), write out your version.

2. Take what you wrote out for us to your advisor and say -- this is what's going on. She's misinterpreting what I'm saying, she's causing me stress. What can you do to help me with this? Remind your advisor gently that you have a right to a non-hostile work environment. Have several suggested solutions at hand if said advisor comes up blank (do you want to be be pulled off all projects involving her? do you want a separate office - you might be able to move in wiht someone else? do you want to set up a schedule where you write more from home so that you can get more of your dissertation work done?0

3. cc your dissertationdadvisor on every single piece of communication you have with this wacko person.

We had someone like this in our department. She ended up going to the Dean, the provost and someone else with all sorts of wild tales. (Only she was harassing the professors, in addition to students.) She accused our office staff of deliberately thwarting her. Only proper documentation saved us a lot of headache.

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#7 of 7 Old 02-21-2007, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I guess today I'll print out all the e-mails from this semester - start a file. It isn't a lot, but every one is subtlely nuts (and one or two are not so subtlely nuts - just strait up nuts).

It is nice to hear that someone else has dealt with with wild tales and paranoia from a coworker. I just wish she did it to more than just me. That she is relatively normal except, apparently, when it comes to me has the potential to really make me look bad, you know.
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