Stress at Work


| 160 Posts

Chartered Member

1 Oct, 2014 10:24


 I work for a independent financial services and have been with them since 2011. I work on a stand alone role for HR.

Two years ago, I had made the company secretary redundant and she was a close friend of the PA to CEO, who sits beside me.

since then we have had a conflict as she became protective of  her friend and critical of me.

I have been trying my best since then to make up with her, and build relationships.

It gets slightly better but after a few days goes back to the same old habbits.

she completely ignores me and if I talk to her hides behind her screen and responds as short answers as she can.

each morning I feel the stress and having to start my day like this is not nice. however, there were quite a few other people in the office and I could stay focussed on them.

Now most people have either moved to other branches in England or left and its just her and me left in the office.

It's now getting even more difficult to live in the room. We have a branch office attached but in operations it is just two of us and we have nothing to do with the branch as it is a separate office.

I don't want to leave my job but don't know how to move ahead with this as I am fed up of taking unnecessary stress each morning then trying to focus on my job.

she has worked for the company and the CEO for over 14 years  and I report to CEO,

so don't know how that would go if I spoke to him. If he then spoke to her, it might get a more dirty game with her.

I have also confronted her and asked her last year and she said it was all in my head as I was guilty and she was not even thinking about it.

Please can you advise on this, how to deal with it especially when it is such a small company.

Many thanks


  • Sally Elizabeth

    | 198 Posts

    Chartered Member

    1 Oct, 2014 14:39

    She has been carrying this grudge for 2 years, anyone who can keep it up that long is probably never going to stop.  I don't believe you can fix this Surbhi - you are not dealing with a rational person! I would not tell the CEO about it in the context of asking him to help you - but I might consider telling him in the context of you "are looking for a new job because of this issue", and see how he reacts.  If he wants to save you he will step in - if he doesn't then you know he wouldn't have got involved in trying to fix the issue and you are either going to have to live with it or move on.  Personally I think life is a bit short to spend all day in an office with one other person who holds grudges and won't talk to me :-)

  • Surbhi

    | 160 Posts

    Chartered Member

    1 Oct, 2014 14:50

    Thank you Sally, that's very kind of you to reply. I agree with you and I will take your advise on this. Life is indeed too short to waste on things like these.

    Have a good day!


  • Hi Surbhi,

    I tend to take the view that there are 2 sides to every story.  Above, we have your side that says that this woman is holding a completely unjustifiable grudge against you and making an unpleasant working environment.  

    However, you also said that when you asked her about this she said it was all in your head and that she wasn't even thinking about it. 

    Sometimes when we are the one that is in the situation it is very difficult to see it from the other point of view.  Perhaps she thinks you are talking to her about stuff that is of no interest and therefore she responds in short to try to change the subject.  Perhaps she is scared of getting too friendly with you because she thinks you might have to 1 day make her redundant.  Perhaps she has something going on in her personal life.  Perhaps you are just 2 different personalities that will never have anything in common.

    The point is that there could be lots of reasons for why it has got to this stage - it could be because you were the one to make her friend redundant or it could be something else or it could be nothing at all.

    I believe in these situations that you have no control to change the behaviour of the other person - you can only control your reaction to it.  I would bet that you now go into the office in the morning expecting a frosty reception - even without intention you may display this in your tone of voice or body language (completely without meaning to).  She probably picks up on this and mirrors this back and it becomes a vicious circle.

    I don't  think that speaking to the CEO will help - it would be likely to further alienate her.  Can you get to a stage where her behaviour just goes over your head?  Can  you change the way that you communicate to her?

    I used to work with someone who I found very difficult.  In the end I decided that we would never be friends and approached the relationship on a strictly professional basis.  I ensured that I was polite and responsive to her but just accepted that she wasn't the sort of person that I would ever want to just have a chat with.

    Good luck 

  • David Perry

    | 5098 Posts

    Chartered Member

    1 Oct, 2014 21:36

    I don't understand why YOU have to feel stressed because of her refusal to act normally? 

    You choose whether to feel stressed - you need to take or think a little about your responsibility for how you feel maybe.  Perhaps you can also choose not to take it personally and let it go in one ear and out of the other.  


    Involving the CEO might be a  bit like saying, "I can't manage to get on with the PA, please help".  Has the CEO the time and patience to deal with two staff, one of which is his PA and the other you? 

  • David, whilst I don't entirely disagree with your comments it may be worth pinpointing some key points which Surbhi raises about the behaviour faced on a daily basis.  That being the employee is "critical of me", and "she completely ignores me and if I talk to her hides behind her screen and responds as short answers as she can."

    Whilst some self-preservation and developing a thick skin is needed here I would challenge ANYONE to work in such a toxic atmosphere and not feel stressed.  I worked with an employee some years ago who took a dislike to me and took any and every opportunity to mock, ridicule and undermine me including doing childish things such as fetching everyone a tea/coffee but deliberately leave me out.  It did need a thick skin to rebuff her immature behaviour but it did also take a lot of energy to rise above it .... 

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