Ask Jessandra: Anita Newjob

Dear Jessandra,

I have been having a problem at work with one of my coworkers. She is very young and also my superior. She acts incredibly controlling and often refuses to let me do my job and help out, while insinuating that I am incapable, which is definitely not the case. She has yelled at me and acted like a snotty brat toward me. I am not the only one she treats disrespectfully. The other day she shoved a heavy cart at me while speaking so incredibly disrespectfully and childishly toward me that I was left shaking, almost in tears. I talked to our manager but the only thing my manager is willing to do is have a sit-down chat between us. Help, Jessandra, what do I do??

Anita Newjob

Dear Anita,
The only thing worse than needing a job to pay for your basic survival is remembering pretty much everyone else does too, even rude people with no manners! Okay, that’s an overstatement, but what I mean to say is coworkers sure can be a drag. On one hand, your coworker (let’s call her Rudy) is probably dealing with her own stress, trying to pay her bills, and taking it out on you because you’re in the vicinity.

Your boss is doing a predictable boss thing by suggesting a meeting to sort things out. On the other hand, how helpful can that meeting be if Rudy is already aware of her actions? It’s frustrating to feel like your boss doesn’t give a shit. So. What to do? There are many ways you could successfully address this problem. Here’s my advice (in chronological order).

Accept your manager’s offer for a meeting

Most interpersonal problems are based in miscommunication, especially at work. Give your boss and your coworker the benefit of the doubt. What if they don’t understand why you are upset? What if there’s something you don’t know about, coming from their perspective? It’s possible.

Even if the meeting turns out to be some time-wasting BS, following protocol here will benefit you in the long run. For example, if the problem escalates and a giant mega-boss wants to know what happened, “Anita was dissatisfied with the outcome of the meeting and sought alternative solutions” will sound better than, like, “Anita kicked Rudy in the shins and called her a barf snacker.”

Give yourself the chance to dream

Take a step back and think about your goals. What do you really want out of life? It’s healthy to reconsider the big picture once in awhile. Think of work drama like an appointment reminder on your phone telling you to check in with yourself. Your aspirations may have changed, even in the past few months, so go ahead and let loose. Imagine what your life would look like if nothing stood in your way. What would you be doing with your time? Where would you live? Who would be your buddies?

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that reality is malleable and dreams can come true, so we stop dreaming. It can also be frustrating to dream if we expect instant gratification. However, I would argue that dreaming is the first step to fulfillment. The best dream is one you can enjoy for what it is, no more and no less. Allowing yourself to dream will help with the problem at work.

Cool down and reconsider

If you took advice tidbit #1 and went to that meeting, great! If you didn’t, and time has forced you to cool down because you asked Jessandra this question weeks before it was published, also great! Either way, try to release some emotions, then reconsider your job.

How appropriately did your boss respond when you complained? How has the job been overall? Was the stress with Rudy a fluke, or will you continue to be disrespected at work? Is it time to look for a new job, or is it worth it for you to stay there longer? Maybe after you’ve cooled down, you’ll still think it’s a good idea to storm into the manager’s office, cuss a lot and quit your job. In that case, you should definitely go for it.

Give Rudy a chance

This obviously isn’t the most appealing option but MAYBE, just maybe, you could try being nice to Rudy. Often when people act controlling and belittle others it’s because they feel inadequate and are projecting their own insecurities. If you want to stick a toe into being nice without diving in head-first, how about offering Rudy some of your eats at break time?

If that goes alright, you can ask a bit about her day. If she gives some kind of decent personal response, maybe you can ask for her input on something later. This type of effort may allow her to feel more comfortable at work, and more a part of the team. It might not succeed if she actually sucks, but it probably will help if her aggression is related to insecurity. If it’s possible to work things out with Rudy, that will be more effective than anything your boss can do.

Crack a few jokes

One way to vent frustration about your job WHILE making light of the situation AND keeping management on their toes is by hollering crazy demands. When your boss asks if there’s anything they can do to help, tell them you could really use a pint of ice cream to deal with this stressful-ass workday. (Delivery is key—you want to lean toward subpar cat-centric comedian rather than majorly obnoxious douchebag.) Or incorporate your own joke style into the workday.

Humor is a great device for addressing problems. It allows you to be honest and confront what’s happening without being aggressive. It shows you can roll with the punches and you know your own worth, in a slightly unpredictable way. Also, YOLO…

If some of this advice seems like an effort to cheer you up rather than a get-er-dun problem-solving toolbelt, that’s because emotions are just like tools in your problem-solving belt, and occasionally they need maintenance to function properly. It’s easier to work things out with other people when we’re feeling okay as ourselves. So believe in you! I do.

Good luck,


Jessandra would love to answer your questions about life, relationships, personal problems or pretty much whatever! She may not be a professional, but at least she’ll tell you the truth. Send your requests for advice to [email protected] with the subject line “Jessandra” and she’ll get back to you soon!