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I find my colleague infuriating


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Old 16th August 2017, 5:05 PM   #1
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I find my colleague infuriating

I work in a digital marketing-type company and have been there for around 2 years. Myself and this colleague were hired at the same time (my bosses later admitted they only meant to look for one person but they liked us both so much they made room for us both) and I guess I've always felt a weird rivalry with him because we are always 'paired' together - we are a really tiny company (one open plan office of 8-10 people) and were sat side by side from the beginning.

I don't know when it first started but at some point little things about him just started to bug me, like I noticed that if I fidgeted in my chair, leaned down to get something out of my desk drawer, or even if I was just tapping away at my keyboard, I would catch him silently looking over to see what I was up to, rubbernecking at my screen or leaning in to hear my phonecalls with clients, as well as always cutting in to conversations I was having with other colleagues. (In fact that last one he does to everyone, he seems to have a compulsion to interject in every small conversation in our office regardless of whether it involves him or not). He's like a meerkat, just popping his head up everywhere. Sometimes I will sense him just sitting with his hands folded under his chin staring towards the blank wall on the other side of me which is the most unsettling thing.

Anyway we have very wide desks, big enough for two screens, keyboard, phone and then some, yet somehow all of his paperwork, coffee mug and telephone end up pushed way over towards me - it sounds so petty especially since I'm left-handed I keep pretty much everything to my left anyway, but sometimes it's like his stuff encroaches over the threshold just for the sake of it when he has the same amount of free space I do, and he stretches just to get it over there - when he slaps a stack of paperwork or a notebook down it's so close to my right side my hair literally wafts in the draft. Not to mention when his phone rings he always makes this big 'sigh' and scoots his whole body in the chair and leans right over so that I get the full force of his voice in my ear, while his free hand is just distractingly rap-tapping the desk in my peripheral, because he is a nervous phone talker and one of those 'gets really loud and gesticulates when under pressure' types.

He has the most awkward personality in general and practically hyperventilates whenever someone asks him a question, starts fumbling with papers and sweating and stammering and it's like.. calm down, you're a grown man, no one cares if you can't find a spreadsheet right this second. At first I felt bad because maybe he has anxiety and I can certainly relate to that but 2 years down the line, I can't stop myself from eye rolling because it honestly just feels so over the top.

We moved offices earlier this year so I was secretly hoping for the opportunity to move away from him, and on moving day I got in early and waited until one of my other colleagues claimed the end desk in the corner so I swiftly grabbed the seat next to hers. No sooner had we started setting up our things than our bosses decided they didn't want my nice colleague 'hiding' in the corner and who should they swap her for? Of course. So we've ended up in exactly the same position as before, only now we're backed into a corner with me at the open end so he has to slowly sidle behind me everytime he gets up from his desk.

On top of my basic role I have become specialised in the handover of a finished project to the client and basically training them up to use their own customer interaction system, so I'm often in the firing line of any queries/user experience issues. I normally run my own set of checks to make sure this process goes smoothly, but I don't have time to double-check everything else as that should be taken care of before it gets to me.

This colleague regularly forgets or simply doesn't set things up properly before a project is handed over to me, and I either find out when I'm prepping to do the training, or later down the line when a client rings me confused or annoyed that something isn't working properly. As such a small company with a large workload, there are always little snags in communication between projects, where someone calls out the office and once the person at fault has inevitably admitted blame we have a good laugh about it. We move on. If the same thing keeps happening over and over, we'll have an office meeting to figure out the cause, put a new plan in place which everyone follows and everything's tickety boo.

Except he's the only one who never seems to learn from past mistakes - this week I had another phone call from a client of a project he's done asking why they don't seem to have any customer interactions, only to find out that they were never set up with the right access permissions and weeks' worth of messages had been building up unanswered - guess who's head that lands on when I'm the one who has to break this to them. A lot of the time our clients are super nice about it and take the blame on themselves for not checking sooner, but it makes me feel so unprofessional that I have to make up some awkward on-the-spot excuse that doesn't damage our company reputation even though we (he) are the ones at fault!

To top it off, my colleague sits there listening to the whole conversation, and I know that he knows he's done something wrong because I sense him shifting in his seat and sighing uncomfortably and craning his head over to look at my screen all meekly while I'm trying to fix his mistakes and having to apologise for the 'error' - in the past he's had the audacity to thoughtfully scribble some 'helpful solutions' on a post-it before sliding it in front of me mid phone-call but I think that stopped after he caught my death glare. As soon as I put the phone down I wait because I know he will pipe in with a weak 'oh.. was that so-and-so?' to which I bluntly reply 'yes that was so-and-so' before explaining to the office 'it looks like they didn't have access permissions set up - I checked and none of them are done properly?'

He will either go quiet and bury himself in his screen pretending it's nothing to do with him while my other colleagues jump in to help, or he'll give some weak excuse about how he was 'sure he did it right' and get in a huge flap trying to fix it, at which point I just say I'll do it myself because it's quicker. I've given him the benefit of the doubt and let him fix things before but he'll just keep bugging me with questions the whole time 'oh so where do I find that? Which option is it again? I always forget [super awkward forced laugh]'

I'm sorry but as much as it makes my job sound redundant literally everyone else knows how to do this it's pretty basic stuff and it's actually part of his role to know how to do this before handing it on to me. He seems perfectly competent in every other part of the project except where it directly affects me in doing my part, and fine if he genuinely struggles to grasp the processes but don't just hand it over to me without warning me you haven't tied up all the loose ends - I don't need to be rushing to finish your job on top of doing my own. Argh

I don't even know where I'm going with this, I just needed to get it off my chest. It's really driving me to distraction lately.
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Old 17th August 2017, 7:34 AM   #2
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I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this.

Have you considered asking the company to rearrange the pairings on the grounds that new interactions will foster creative thinking? That way you get away from the annoying colleague but don't have to discuss the petty annoyances. (I say petty because if it was only 1 of those things, I'd probably suggest suck it up; the "problem" is the cumulative effect)
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Old 17th August 2017, 12:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d0nnivain View Post
I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this.

Have you considered asking the company to rearrange the pairings on the grounds that new interactions will foster creative thinking? That way you get away from the annoying colleague but don't have to discuss the petty annoyances. (I say petty because if it was only 1 of those things, I'd probably suggest suck it up; the "problem" is the cumulative effect)
Thank you for that, I appreciate your words.

That's actually not a bad idea, since we've taken on such a huge workload the last few months we've been interviewing for a handful of new staff who will not be able to fit in the space we currently have - so our bosses have been discussing moving offices yet again. At the very least we'll have to do some rearranging while we wait for a decision, but I can see that excuse working (veiled in humor most likely) if I find myself getting placed next to him again.

Oh I feel like it's definitely petty and I hate that about myself, but 2 years of it non-stop has kind of ground me down.
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Old 17th August 2017, 2:18 PM   #4
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Maybe he has a crush on you. Yuck.
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Old 17th August 2017, 3:55 PM   #5
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Maybe he has a crush on you. Yuck.
I don't know, I used to think he might but I just don't get that vibe from him. I honestly feel like he just enjoys pissing me off because we have a mutual secret dislike of each other..
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Old 18th August 2017, 12:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mooncloud View Post
there are always little snags in communication between projects, where someone calls out the office and once the person at fault has inevitably admitted blame we have a good laugh about it. We move on. If the same thing keeps happening over and over, we'll have an office meeting to figure out the cause, put a new plan in place which everyone follows and everything's tickety boo.
How many times have the things he has been forgetting/not doing been discussed and an action plan for those errors put in place in these office meetings?
Also, what action plan has actually been put in place for these incidents to ensure they don't keep happening?

It sounds like you work fairly closely on projects so sitting far apart could hinder that process further if communication/overhearing isn't easy. Overhearing is actually not a bad thing and keeps you in the loop. If that isn't required between the two of you then have you requested a desk move yet? If you're going to be moving offices this is the optimal time to ask that you can sit away from him if you don't 'need' to sit together.

You irritation is something only you can control and is your responsibility to manage, get yourself a notebook to keep at home and write things down when he bugs you. It's by far the best way to get irritations off your mind.

How many times have you asked him not to encroach onto your desk or have you allowed that to happen without saying anything?

I sit by someone who encroaches to some degree but I don't use that space so it doesn't bother me. She has on occasion taken my desk over and left a load of stuff there when I have been out of the office so I speak up and give it all back to her - it's something she now does less and less as she doesn't like when I politely pile it all back in front of her.
There's a lot of things about her and her colleague (both of whom I sit closest to) that irritate me to be honest but for my role it's handy to be able to over hear as often the info I hear is something helpful to me or I can solve a problem they have. They are not great at communicating work issues or passing on info so sitting far away from them would only cause me more investigation if I didn't over hear some things.
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