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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Hard Work Goes Unnoticed

Dear Sue: I have an issue with my coworker. We work together, but lately I am doing all the work. He comes and goes as he pleases and neglects his work, but manages to keep his job. Heís up on the latest gossip, and socializes most of the day. He brown-noses with the boss and complains about his workload, which has resulted in extra work for me.

I am busy all day long. I do not need to socialize when I am at work and Iím not interested in the rumor mill. I am more concerned about doing a good job than being well-liked.

My resentment toward my coworker is growing, and Iím afraid I will say something I will regret some day. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with such an irritating coworker?

Ė Irritated

Sue Says: I want to acknowledge your frustration; you are conscientious, and I understand how difficult it must be for you to work with someone who defies your principles. The two of you appear to be complete opposites; he focuses on people, and you focus on your work. Your resentment toward your coworker is understandable; why should he keep his job if he isnít working?

The most obvious answer isnít the only one; effectiveness is measured in many ways.

Youíre more interested in doing a good job than being well-liked, yet he considers being well-liked an important aspect of doing a good job. Are you irritated due to the increase in your workload or are you upset because your coworker manages to get by without working as hard as you?

Hard work, knowledge and skill are essential to any job, but not the only indicators of success. It is equally important to have the ability to work well with others, communicate effectively, resolve problems, and present yourself in a positive manner. The people who master all areas have an advantage over those who do not. It is the leadership skills that are possessed and displayed that often determine who will get a job, keep a job or move ahead.

Evaluate the source of your frustration before you determine how to proceed. Identify your main concerns, which should be about you and no one else. You shouldnít focus on how much your coworker socializes, but can address your concerns about your added workload.

I realize your coworker is a problem for you, but Iím not convinced he has to be. You know he likes to socialize, so take the time to talk with him each day. If you can establish a relationship with him, he may not feel the need to come a go as frequently in order to fulfill his social needs.

Donít wait to address your concerns until you say something you will regret. If you decide to say something, look closely at yourself before you do. Seek feedback on your own job performance. Itís easy to cast blame and identify the shortcomings of others, but much more difficult to objectively evaluate ourselves.

With the right approach, you may be able to gain the support of your coworker, and might gain a friend as well. It may not be what you are looking for, but could be just what you need.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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