Q: I work with a manipulative predator. She seems charming at first glance but has burned me several times and I now avoid her. Everyone else thinks she's...

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Q: I work with a manipulative predator. She seems charming at first glance but has burned me several times and I now avoid her. Everyone else thinks she’s great. How can I get everybody to wake up and see that she’s bad news?

A: When you speak badly of other people at work, colleagues will draw two conclusions: 1. You must be the real problem; 2. You’re going to ask them to take sides, so they better shun you to avoid a conflict.

The people in your office who have fallen under the predator’s spell are taking a crash course from the most valuable of all universities: the school of hard knocks. Most people don’t know that you can count on people to treat you exactly like they’ve treated others. Predators, of course, will bite everyone eventually.

Most of your co-workers probably naively believe that if they pet the “bad doggie” softly, it won’t bite them. Bad doggies don’t cooperate and sooner or later your co-workers will learn that predators reward kindness with abuse.

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It can be tough for people to admit to themselves that some people are abusive or dangerous.

Even in studies exploring how and why people become victims of crime, research shows that victims often sense when they are around a dangerous person. However, people who get victimized often chose to ignore their protective instincts because they don’t want to be impolite or offend anyone.

Most people who have been hurt by someone feel a normal urge to tell others how nasty the person was, as a way to receive comfort and empathy. However, most folks would rather believe “everything is beautiful” until they personally experience a problem.

Your need for consolation would be better served by two actions: 1. Avoid giving your abusive co-worker any more openings to hurt you; 2. Count on the fact that if your co-worker is a predator she’ll chew her way through your office, thus making her true nature apparent better than any words you could use.

If other people ask about this co-worker, use the most generous words you can, such as, “Yes, she’s ambitious and charming,” then drop the topic.

People will fight their own battles with her if you don’t become the office “lightning rod” for a campaign against her.

The last word(s)

Q: Is there a quick and easy way to improve my relationships with co-workers?

A: No.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube