Q&A: Should I take a stand against a standoffish coworker?


Thomas Northcut | Digital Vision + Jack Hollingsworth | Photodisc

A company recently hired me to assume the responsibilities of a nurse who was let go. Ever since I started working here, my coworkers have been less than friendly. I know the other nurse was very popular, but I didn’t have anything to do with her dismissal.


How do I get them to give me a chance? Should I just ignore the way they act? Or perhaps start looking for another job?

— Mona, RN

Here are the best responses from your peers:

It’s better to take some measured steps forward

Mona, your coworkers are obviously upset about the firing of their friend. However, their anger is misdirected; they should talk to upper management about what happened. But undoubtedly, they’re afraid to do that. So, that makes you the easy target.

Knowing this, what can you do about this matter? Our readers think you should:

  • Prove yourself.
  • Show some class.
  • Clear the air.

Prove yourself

Considering how your coworkers feel, and as petty as it may be, they’d probably like to see you fail. That would validate their opinion management was wrong to let their friend go. Don’t give them what they want.

An LPN explains why concentrating on your work will pay off in more ways than one.

“Continue doing your job and be content with your work, making a difference in the lives of people who need your help. Sooner or later, your coworkers will see you can perform with or without them.”

Show some class

You could respond in kind to the way your coworkers are acting and adapt an attitude. But you have a better option.

Take the high road

Theresa, RN makes the following suggestion: “Be cordial toward other staff personnel (e.g., saying good morning with a smile, thanking them for a job well done, etc.). You cannot be held accountable for other people’s actions or reactions — only your own.”

Clear the air

Sometimes, enough is enough, and if you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t take this kind of abuse from your coworkers, it may be time for you to speak up.

An RN describes what she did when she was in a situation similar to yours.

“Not so long ago, I was the ‘new kid’ who’d replaced everybody’s friend, and I was treated like a pariah. After several weeks of this treatment, I met with each of my coworkers individually.

“I asked them about the nurse I’d replaced and listened to all the nice things they had to say about her. I told them she sounded like a great person, that I was sorry I didn’t have a chance to get to know her myself and that I only hoped one day they would have an opinion of me that would at least come close to how they felt about her. After that, we all started to get along. I think letting them talk about their friend and seeing I was willing to try to fit in helped.”

Mona, your coworkers aren’t giving you a chance, and that isn’t right. Show them the kind of professional you are by doing your job to the best of your ability. Be polite to each one of them. And if things don’t get better, demonstrate your empathy and desire to be a part of the team with one-to-one meetings. They will accept you. It may just take some effort on your part.

This feature is brought to you in partnership with Interim HealthCare.

Interim HealthCare
Interim HealthCare is America’s first and finest home care & healthcare staffing franchise who employees over 75,000 health care professionals in over 300 locations nationwide.

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