Ask Mary: My new workplace is bitchy my boss clearly doesn't like me

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I almost feel like a schoolgirl putting this down on paper, but I have to get it off my chest. I started work in a new job six months ago. The office is busy and my colleagues are all women, but my God, I feel as if I am back in school.

The bitching is unreal, and, worse than that, I find the two women in charge to be terribly childish and unfair.

I know one of them doesn't like me. I walked into the canteen the other day and she was laughing and chatting with one of her 'favourites'. The minute I came in, they both stopped talking.

I feel ridiculous even writing that – it seems so puerile and paranoid. But my boss definitely has people who are 'in' and others, like me, who are less favoured.

I feel I'm not reaching my potential, and I feel so uncomfortable in work. I'd leave if I could.

MargaretMary's view

'Surely there are one or two colleagues with whom you could make friends; they can't all be cut from the one mould'

My first piece of advice to you is in answer to your very last sentence. And it's stark: do not leave your job.

Going over your query, I was brought back to my much younger days, when I started working in teaching and then the political field. In both environments I would have been in situations very much as you describe; perhaps not quite so blatant, but very uncomfortable.

So what to do? You are only six months into your new job and it is very early to take definite positions on matters in your workplace.

However, I fully believe your story and my advice again is to stay put and to ignore the bitching, particularly the attitude of the two women in charge.

You say that you know that one of them doesn't like you because she stopped talking when you appeared.

This is an old story and one I am quite sure you will be able to work through and come out the other end.

I don't underestimate at all the difficulties you are going through and the sick feeling I am quite sure you have going into work. You don't like the atmosphere, but you have it within yourself to overcome most of this.

It would be best to stay at least 12 months in this job so that you have something definite on your CV if you decide to move on.

Surely there are one or two colleagues with whom you could make friends; they can't all be cut from the one mould. Having your own network will help you to surmount whatever petty difficulties you encounter each day.

Concentrate on your work, becoming adept and confident in all you are given. In that way, you can hold your head high.

Is there a personnel officer at your workplace in whom you could confide?

Stick it out, and be getting ready in a year or so when you may feel you want to move on. By then, you will have learned a lot on the job and also about life. That should stand you in good stead for when you face into the job market again.

In the meantime, listen, learn and interact. My hope is that in a few months' time you will look back on this patch and say, 'what was I getting steamed up about? I have settled in and life is good'.

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