I used to think that my co-worker hated me.
I had started working for an IT firm 2 years ago. It was my first job and I was overjoyed about
getting the opportunity to work in the area of my interest. We were a team of seven under one supervisor, whom we had to report every day. It was a warm and healthy environment. I got along with my co-workers well, except for one. He was the senior most employee in our team and for some reason, we started off on the wrong foot. It felt as if his behaviour was bitter towards me right from the start. I thought it would just be a matter of time, and eventually things would fall in place. But they didn’t.
It all started very casually. He would pass sarcastic comments, mock me or make fun of my ideas that I would be extremely excited to present. Everyone took it as a joke and so did I in the beginning. With time progressing, these jokes turned into serious criticism. I started becoming more and more conscious of what he said. I didn’t understand why no one tried to stop him from making such comments. No matter what I did, he didn’t budge because of which I started doubting my abilities. I tried to reason my thoughts saying he wasn’t too happy with my posting or probably, he was jealous of my achievements for my age. But his persistent mockery made me believe that I wasn’t good enough.
I was too afraid to talk to my supervisor about this because my supervisor shared a strong bond with the senior employee. This constant criticism had started affecting my confidence directly. I was never satisfied with my work. Whenever I came up with a new idea or prepared a presentation, I would discard it, thinking that it’s much better to do away with it myself rather than letting him ridicule me again. This took a huge toll on my performance. I stopped initiating, and started isolating myself.
My supervisor noticed these changes in my behaviour. He tried talking to me but I couldn’t muster the courage to tell him what was bothering me. I had always been the kind of person who kept things to himself, and didn’t trust anyone easily. My supervisor was extremely concerns, and so he recommended that I seek help from a counsellor. I was taken aback by the idea at first as it was unlike me to open up and talk to a stranger about my problems. But I had to do it anyway, at my supervisor’s suggestion.
At the start, I was reluctant and extremely doubtful. I wasn’t aware of the process and how it was going to be. I was scared, nervous and clueless at the same time. But when I met the counsellor, she ensured that I felt comfortable and safe. It didn’t feel like I was meeting her for the very first time. I couldn’t believe that I opened up to her so easily. While expressing my thoughts, I noticed that I had bottled up so much inside me and telling someone how I actually felt, was indeed very relaxing.
As I started seeing my counsellor for further sessions, we explored all the reasons behind me not being able to speak up for the things that affected me big time. I understood the importance of confronting my co-worker about his antics that bothered me. It made me realise that because I didn’t stand up for myself, it gave others the confidence to continue doing things which made me uncomfortable. The counsellor also conducted a few activities that were aimed at boosting my confidence. These sessions instilled feelings of self-sufficiency, that I was clearly lacking.
It took some time and a lot of courage, but I finally stood up for myself and confronted my
co-worker. I told him exactly how I felt (that he hated me, and that his jokes and mockery affected my confidence and my performance). To my surprise, my co-worker was mature enough to empathize with me. He took it very sportingly and assured me that he would keep this in mind. Gradually, things changed; I started performing better again. I also got along with the co-worker I never thought I could even talk to. Most importantly, seeking professional help made me realise that I had the power to take control of the cause of my own discomfort.