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Teri Lanza

Teri Lanza
Editorial Director
tlanza@vpico.com

The Political Side of Job Stress: Clashing With Coworkers

By Teri Lanza Comments
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For many people in America, work is a source of great stress, even if it is also a source of fulfillment. For some, fulfillment never enters the equation; with their paycheck comes anxiety and exhaustion and little more. It seems workplace pressure has increased in the past few years with changes in the economy, too. Not only do employees feel trapped in less-than-ideal positions because of an infertile job market, they’re taking on more responsibilities at less pay due to downsizing and a lack of job security.

Inside Self-Storage entered production today on its annual staffing issue (December 2010), which focuses on topics of employee hiring, training and evaluating, as well as workplace politics. A couple of our writers touched on a sensitive topic in relation to job satisfaction: interpersonal relationships. The question they raise is what to do when your job stress stems from the personalities of your boss or co-workers. A demanding workload and cranky clients represent common types of work strain, but potentially more wearing is the angst created by difficult colleagues.

Self-storage managers are fortunate in that their staffs are generally small, and so they experience fewer opportunities for character clash. At the same time, the work environment is generally intimate, and a smaller staff means fewer ways to escape from or avoid offensive persons. If you’ve got a co-worker or supervisor who is overly critical, moody, antagonistic, catty or unpleasant in any way, you’ve got that ugliness in your face on a regular basis, up close and personal.

We’ve all been there at some time in our life. In college, I spent years waiting tables to keep the bills paid. Working restaurants means interaction with lots of flamboyant characters and excessive staff turnover. There seemed to be constant head-butting in that environment. Even during my years in the professional arena, I’ve experienced gossipers, back-stabbers, drama queens (and kings), Two-Faced Toms and Credit-Grabbing Cathys. I even had a stalker once. Made me think of the movie “Single White Female.” Frightening.

Members on the Self-Storage Talk forum recently hashed through this topic in a thread titled, “Dealing With Obnoxious Coworkers.” Many say they’ve been spared such misery by working in the office alone or with a spouse, but others report some challenges. What about you? Have any stories to share in this regard? Do you work with someone you can’t stand? Personality conflict with the boss? Share your pain.

For coping tips, check out the articles “How to Deal With Personality Clashes!” and  “Peacekeeping in the workplace: how to handle personality clashes among employees.”

Here’s to having a lovely, conflict-free weekend.

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