Lauretta Hannon: Standing up for yourself in the workplace
September 09, 2013 10:03 PM | 1943 views | 3 3 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: I have a co-worker who is negative, critical, and judgmental about everything and everyone and is not afraid to say so except when it comes to saying the right things in front of the boss. She will stomp on anyone to get ahead or get to the top. She is very hurtful but somehow because of her bluntness is respected. Personally I think she has bully tendencies. How do you work in an environment with someone like that and be able to stand up for yourself while remaining nice and keeping your dignity?

A: Remember that no one disrespects or hurts you without your permission. You must not let her have such power. Instead, you disallow the abuse by setting firm boundaries. The next time she lashes out, remain calm and pleasant and explain that you won’t respond to such treatment. Hold your ground. Redirect her nasty comments by circling back to the mission of the work. She doesn’t realize it, but you are training her in how to treat you. It will work if you stick to your guns and stop obsessing over her faults.

By the sound of your question, I suspect you’re pouring too much energy into this person’s atrocious qualities. You are thinking about her excessively. Don’t talk about her any more. Silence the internal chatter as well. The attention you’re giving is actually making you more vulnerable to her attacks. In fact, when you see deficiencies in her you should instead work on your own.

You won’t have to sacrifice niceness or dignity to achieve success in this situation. Your new approach is going to bring a kind of peace you’ve not experienced. Her influence will begin to dim, and your strength will shine. And if you commit to improving only yourself in the long run, you’ll gain more and more serenity. Eventually you may find that you’re no longer disturbed by what someone does or does not do.

Q: A dear family friend met a gentleman in April, and in two weeks they announced their engagement. A personal shower was held at her sister’s home a couple of weeks before the wedding. We attended the affair and gave a generous gift of money.

But then last week we received an invitation to a post-wedding shower. The invite was worded as follows, “The wedding happened so fast we didn’t have a chance to give her a proper send-off. So we’re going to shower her with love and good wishes this Saturday. The bride is registered at Macy’s, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.”

This “after the marriage” shower seems tacky, plus some of our family and friends who were not invited to the wedding were invited to this last-minute shower. What do you think of all this?

A: I think it’s poorly conceived, poorly organized and in poor taste. I just hope you got a proper handwritten thank you note for your gift. In my universe, failure to express gratitude is a sin second only to murder.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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Shelly M
September 10, 2013
Great advice! I worked with a woman as described, she just would not stop. One day while she was going on and on with her mean and nasty talk about our co-workers in the lunch room with about 4 other employees, I just could not take it anymore, I said loudly, so most of the office could hear, "I can't take you being mean about everyone in the office anymore, I just can't take it!

She never did it again and 2 months later quit. We had a party!

September 10, 2013
Great advice as usual. And I totally agree about the thank you note. They are quickly becoming a thing of the past and it's such a shame. Whatever happened to common courtesy and etiquette?
Crystal R.
September 10, 2013
Amen sista friend!!!! I always try to give a thoughtful gift when invited to events. But more than one event for the same purpose gets under my skin.
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