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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

My cranky coworker is driving me crazy!

I have a coworker who is very moody.  Whenever I ask about one of her projects or suggest a way to do things more efficiently,  “Andrea” gets snippy and starts muttering under her breath.  If I ask what’s wrong, she replies “nothing”, then has a bad attitude for at least an hour.

When Andrea joined the company a few years ago, I was the one who trained her, and we got along well.  We still interact normally most of the time, but about once a day she pulls this attitude on me.  Now I’m always fretting about what she may do.

I haven’t complained to management, because they might think I’m being difficult.  I’ve considered looking for another job, but I don’t want to let Andrea drive me out.  How can I confront her about her attitude problem?

Marie’s Answer

Since you and Andrea usually get along, forget about confronting her and try to figure out what triggers her sulky behavior.  I actually think you’ve provided a pretty good clue.

As her former trainer, you still feel comfortable telling Andrea how to “do things more efficiently”.  But now that she’s an experienced employee, your helpful comments may sound like intrusive criticism.  Since telling you to butt out would seem inappropriate, Andrea is expressing her displeasure nonverbally.  In short, she’s trying to send you a message.

You can easily test this theory by changing your own behavior.  Since you’re not Andrea’s boss, there’s no need for you to monitor her performance, so stop making suggestions and questioning her methods.  If her moodiness disappears, then you’ve solved the problem.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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    Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

    Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

    Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

    As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

    Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.