Author Topic: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker  (Read 34565 times)

frugalnacho

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Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« on: September 23, 2019, 07:38:49 AM »
I've got a rather annoying know-it-all coworker that is really getting under my skin.  At first she seems very knowledgeable and has an answer for absolutely everything, but if you talk to her in any level of detail, or about any subject you actually know about, it becomes obvious she is an idiot and doesn't know hardly anything at all.  She is super confident though, and that I think she has everyone fooled simply because her confidence level is through the roof.  She's also very personable and seems to be buddy-buddy with a lot of people, cracking jokes with them and bonding all the time. 

I've had a number of run ins with her, which is how I came to the realization she doesn't know anything.  She talks a good game, until she started talking about things I know a great deal about, like air emissions calculations which I've done for literally my entire career, and it became obvious she doesn't know what she was talking about.  She didn't even understand the concept that a pollutant will have a different concentration dispersed into a larger volume vs a smaller volume and repeatedly claimed you just "use a constant" for the volume.  Interactions like these just leave me shaking my head, and also have me simply trying to exit the conversation.  There is no "winning" with her, so I just try to avoid her or end the conversation as quickly as possible while completely disregarding anything she says. 


She's also very dismissive of any expectations I have.  For example our company has essentially no safety policies or training. They did address some things like putting in some eyewash stations (though they are still inadequate and weren't being inspected as often as required, etc). Lots not non-english speaking employees, and they've pretty much just been flying by the seat of their pants and disregarding a variety of safety laws.  I stated that we were likely not going to be in full compliance this year.  We need to develop a hazcom policy, print out the sds of the hundreds of chemicals we use and make an sds book, develop a respirator policy, revamp the fire extinguisher program, revamp the eyewash stations, implement some basic safety policies, etc.   Lots  of stuff that we need to do get fully in compliance.  When I stated this she basically rolled her eyes and was dismissive and claimed it's "no problem" to just implement all this stuff and won't take nearly as long as I think.  Fast forward 2 months later and we've made a lot of progress, but are nowhere near being in complete compliance, exactly as I predicted because it's a significant amount of work. 

She's taken it upon herself to be the safety cheerleader now, and is starting to conduct safety training because she claims she is "osha certified".  I informed her osha doesn't actually certify anyone, so exactly what safety certification does she have, and can she produce it?  She claims she can't because it was internal training at her previous company, and as everyone knows they don't allow you to take certification with you when you quit because they paid for it.  Nevermind that this doesn't make any sense because you almost always receive a personal certificate for training, and absolutely can take it with you because I've done just that - I mean why wouldn't you be able to bring non-expired training certificates with you?  Anyway, she conducted some initial training and was just flat out wrong on a number of items.  The first item was that she has MSDS listed as "MDSS, Material Data Safety Sheets".  I didn't even point out the error, but she kept using MSDS instead of SDS, so I jumped in to give some clarification so the employees weren't confused, and I didn't even think this could possibly be a point of contention.  The convo when something like this:

me:  Just some background and clarification on the MSDS vs SDS acronyms being thrown around.  MSDS and SDS are essentially the same thing, but MSDS is an outdated term that is not actually used anymore. MSDS were not in a standardized format.  The UN developed the globally harmonized system (GHS) which standardized a bunch of things internationally.  OSHA has adopted this standard format so it is officially law as of several years ago and all hazardous chemicals must have an SDS and use the standardized 16 section format.
her: actually a lot of chemicals are still considered "materials" and still require an MSDS.
me: No that's true, they all use SDS.
her: well no actually a lot of them still use MSDS

And everyone is just nodding along agreeing with her.  I don't really know how else to argue my point other than laying out the facts.  But when she "refutes" these facts with her own brand of bullshit, and people just buy into it and nod along, I don't really know how to respond.  It catches me off guard every time too, because I never anticipate that I'm going to receive pushback in this manner and I just don't know how to respond. This happened a few times during her presentation, and every time people just nod along and agree with her because she is just so confident. She's so damn confident she actually makes me question myself.  Maybe I don't know as much I think and she actually has some insight I am missing?  But no, she's a fucking a idiot, but it still trips me up every time.

She is woefully unqualified to be teaching safety, but already has everyone convinced she is a safety expert.  I feel that I need to intervene, but I don't see any good outcomes.  I don't feel comfortable allowing this to go on.  90% of the information she gives is factually correct, but it's sprinkled with misunderstandings and errors.  If I step in an shut it down by stating exactly how I feel it's going to turn a lot of employees against me and ultimately will be counter productive.  However if I allow this to continue she will be propagating her misunderstandings to everyone. If I try to jump in and correct errors I get pushback from her insisting she's right, and as far as I can tell all the employees side with her.

How do I deal with a person like this?
How do I shut this safety thing down without seeming like an asshole to all the employees? 



ncornilsen

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2019, 08:00:55 AM »
Well, for starters, there are such things as certs and degrees offered by various 3rd parties on OSHA legislation. https://www.osha.gov/otiec/degreeprograms/bylocation

But I cannot imagine her employer prevented her from taking the cert with her. She probably did not get one.

Does your manager know she's  full of shit? Can you create a boundary around your responsibilities and just not let her interfere with them?


frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2019, 08:18:04 AM »
Well, for starters, there are such things as certs and degrees offered by various 3rd parties on OSHA legislation. https://www.osha.gov/otiec/degreeprograms/bylocation

But I cannot imagine her employer prevented her from taking the cert with her. She probably did not get one.

Does your manager know she's  full of shit? Can you create a boundary around your responsibilities and just not let her interfere with them?

Those are certifications by OSHA authorized training centers, not certification by OSHA.  My understanding is that OSHA itself doesn't certify, so if anyone uses the terminology "OSHA certified" they are likely referring to some type of certification in safety training, probably done by an authorized training center.  But you can also get certificates from non authorized training centers.  Hell I can conduct relevant OSHA training and present my employees with a certificate, but that doesn't make them "OSHA certified". Which is exactly why I pressed for details because I was not satisfied by her simply stating she is "OSHA certified" and "GHS certified" without providing any type of documentation to exactly what that means.

And no I don't think anyone knows she's full of shit.  That's kind of the problem, she's so confident and talks such a good game that no one realizes she's full of shit.  I've realized it because I deal with her, but I don't know who else has come to that realization.  Clearly none of the regular employees that are nodding along with her agree with that assessment. 
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 08:21:59 AM by frugalnacho »

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2019, 08:24:45 AM »
There probably are people nodding along who agree with you. You can't argue with people like her, though. You just have to sit back and let her hang herself. Keep out of it and let it happen.

Malcat

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2019, 08:35:04 AM »
Circle of influence my friend.

Is it your job to manage her? Is it your job to take responsibility for the things that she is affecting?

If she reports to you, you need to learn to manage her appropriately.
If she is a peer and her behaviour significantly affects the outcomes of your work, then you need to diplomatically raise your concerns to your superiors so that they can manage her appropriately.
If you are over reaching in your job and she's getting in your way, but at the end of the day, projects like this safety thing really aren't in your job title, then you need to let it go or again diplomatically raise your concerns with your superiors.

She sounds like an idiot, which is a much bigger problem for her than it is for you.
The only problem you have is that a lot of confident idiots are going to irritate you in life and you are going to have to either learn to work alongside them, or engineer your life and career so that you don't have to (work solo or from home, become the boss, whatever)

I guarantee you though, she won't be the last confident idiot you will come across, so you will need a strategy to avoid them getting to you so much.

caracarn

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2019, 08:48:50 AM »
First, I am really sorry you have to deal with this.  I know how frustrating it can be.

As far as dealing with it, you have already identified this is a slippery slope.  At this, like it or not, she appears to have built credibility around the organization.  I'm not sure if there is any real option other than Anna pointed out; you wait for her to be found out.  This can be very lengthy however, and also might never happen, depending on how good she is at the snow job.  It sounds like she is quite adept at this.  I do agree with you, though, that if a lot of people are already acting like she is the expert, there is really only downside for you in being the one to try to expose this when no one else seems to want or care that that happens.  I which case you may have a few hard choices to make.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2019, 09:01:17 AM »
Circle of influence my friend.

Is it your job to manage her? Is it your job to take responsibility for the things that she is affecting?

If she reports to you, you need to learn to manage her appropriately.
If she is a peer and her behaviour significantly affects the outcomes of your work, then you need to diplomatically raise your concerns to your superiors so that they can manage her appropriately.
If you are over reaching in your job and she's getting in your way, but at the end of the day, projects like this safety thing really aren't in your job title, then you need to let it go or again diplomatically raise your concerns with your superiors.

She sounds like an idiot, which is a much bigger problem for her than it is for you.
The only problem you have is that a lot of confident idiots are going to irritate you in life and you are going to have to either learn to work alongside them, or engineer your life and career so that you don't have to (work solo or from home, become the boss, whatever)

I guarantee you though, she won't be the last confident idiot you will come across, so you will need a strategy to avoid them getting to you so much.

No I am not her manager, but the environmental, health, and safety of the facility are all my responsibility.

Yes I believe I have the authority to step in and shut her down.

I don't have time to deal with all of the environmental, health, and safety issues at this company right now.  I simply don't have enough time to get everything done immediately, so I'm prioritizing and dealing with what I can when I can in the order I deem most important.  I believe this is probably going to take the better part of a year before everything is sorted out and running smoothly - this place was kind of a mess when I joined them 3 months ago.

I was very receptive to people volunteering to be part of a safety team and to help implement and enforce some safety procedures.  This is going to be a team effort, I am not going to be able to do this without the support of other people in the company. 

My usual tactic to deal with idiots like her are to simply ignore and avoid them and let them do their thing, although she is now directly impacting things that fall under my responsibility.

My concern is that if I shut this down and tell everyone she doesn't know what the fuck she is talking about I am going to create enemies - her, but also other coworkers that are sided with her.  She won't be able to save face in that situation, and really I don't see any good outcomes.  Sure the BS safety training will be shut down, but I believe it's going to damage my rapport with everyone involved and be detrimental to our working situation and our goal of actually being safe.  And basically I will need to take over this training, which I am more qualified than her, but I am also hesitant because I'm not nearly as confident as her.  I know there is shit I don't know and I'm unwilling to bullshit my way through making everyone think I have all the answers.  I don't know the answers, and I'm trying to find them all, but it takes time.  That makes me look unprepared and uneducated vs her knowing absolutely everything.

However if I just let her hang herself...well I don't know.  Is it better to allow her to just blast head strong, and go behind and fix anything she's wrong about?  Is it better to let her take on some of the things I don't have time with? I mean, is it better than nothing?  She did go through and prepare the SDS books that we are required to have.  We deal with hundreds of chemicals.  I haven't had the required 2-3 weeks to sit down and sort through all of that and create a good SDS book(s), but she did it over the course of the last 2 months and we are definitely better off having those books (even if there are some inaccuracies and omissions) vs my plan of inaction.  I would have preferred to do it myself, but I just didn't have the time to get to it yet, so it's better than not doing it, and it will be significantly easier for me to correct what she has done than create it all from scratch. 

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2019, 09:08:13 AM »
First, I am really sorry you have to deal with this.  I know how frustrating it can be.

As far as dealing with it, you have already identified this is a slippery slope.  At this, like it or not, she appears to have built credibility around the organization.  I'm not sure if there is any real option other than Anna pointed out; you wait for her to be found out.  This can be very lengthy however, and also might never happen, depending on how good she is at the snow job.  It sounds like she is quite adept at this.  I do agree with you, though, that if a lot of people are already acting like she is the expert, there is really only downside for you in being the one to try to expose this when no one else seems to want or care that that happens.  I which case you may have a few hard choices to make.

Yes.

I am somewhat tempted to remove myself from the situation entirely and let her take over safety altogether.  I mean this company has survived for 40+ years without much safety training.  There is no one above me and her that knows any of the safety regulations, that is why the safety program is in the state that it's in.  There is no one to tell her she's wrong because no one knows any better. So if she blasts forward and does a safety program and teaches 90% of the correct information, and sprinkles in some misinformation, there is a good chance she will never be found out.  In fact I think it's likely it could grow and everyone here will think they have a good safety program, and they would be 90% right.

That definitely seems like an easier option than shutting this down, I just don't know if that's the right one.

Malcat

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2019, 09:45:08 AM »
I don't ever recommend burning someone unless you want the after effect of making enemies.

Look at the big picture and figure out which outcomes are most important to you.
Is your primary priority actually improving the safety of your workplace?
Is it impressing your superiors?
Is it generating a pleasant work environment?

If safety is the main concern, is her bullshit truly endangering people? Enough to a point that you should address it with management?
If not, if it's just bluster, is it something that can be resolved over time as people get to know you and trust you?

Are they trusting her because she's confident, or are they just not trusting you because you're new and no one knows if you're the one who's full of shit? If you can earn people's respect over time, can you not resolve the 10%? Workplace safety is an ongoing thing, it's not like you set a policy and then never examine it again.

In the end, you are there, you know what you are doing, and eventually the safety stuff will be worked out. It's taken me 3 years at my current workplace to hammer out the disastrous systems that needed fixing, and I've met plenty of challenges and resistance along the way. These are normal challenges of having any degree of operational responsibility within an organization.

Personally, I would take this as an opportunity to learn how best to manage difficult people, as that's a skill that can get you really far professionally. DH is a wizard at this and has been given countless opportunities because he's often the only person who can get difficult people to perform without having to bother upper management about it. Not only that, but his army of misfits are ferociously loyal to him.

You will always have difficult people and difficult personalities to handle if you are in charge of anything or anyone.
From upper management's perspective, a difficult personality manifests itself as far more of a pain in the ass due to others complaining about that person, rather than that person's actual behaviour, especially if they're half decent at their job.

This woman obviously has a very fragile ego and is probably rather threatened by you. There's real opportunity there to harness that insecure energy and turn her into a powerful ally. That's what great managers do. She's not your enemy, nor is she the enemy of the work. She's a lot of energy, and a lot of motivation that has been misdirected so far.


MonkeyJenga

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2019, 09:57:00 AM »
90% right and saving you time in getting needed tasks done is quite different from "idiot who doesn't know anything." What have your interactions been like so far? Is it all instances where you try to correct her? If so, I would sit down with her and thank her for all her help, make it clear that you value the areas she has knowledge in, and find a way to beef up the 10% of inaccuracies. At the same time, work on projecting confidence and developing stronger relationships with your coworkers.

Lulee

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2019, 09:57:59 AM »
Can you mitigate her impact by getting buy-in from your boss & others high level managers that all training materials be signed off by you BEFORE distribution?  You give the reason that as OSHA regulations change over time (there, you saved her face without alienating any employees who have bought into her shtick since it implies her shortcomings in this area are due to changes from the time she was trained and "certified") and as it is YOUR responsibility to ensure the company is compliant, this will best protect the company from regulatory fallout.  This allows you to just flag things like using SDS instead of MSDS as currently usage/regulation.  This defangs her ability to fight you as much while it keeps everyone who might buy into her BS on your side.

Meanwhile, hopefully you can identify others to get them to join the safety team who WILL respect you as you continue to resolve the mess the company is in.  The more time you're there building bridges with your fellow managers and employees, the more weight your word will have with them in the years to come.

If you can win over her boss (maybe they like her being all up in your business because it keeps her out of theirs so they can get stuff done?), they might drag her focus back to her own responsibilities.   But it's doubtful she'll go quietly if she thinks she can have a lot of attention and even commendation by "helping" out so much.

mm1970

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2019, 10:11:23 AM »
Circle of influence my friend.

Is it your job to manage her? Is it your job to take responsibility for the things that she is affecting?

If she reports to you, you need to learn to manage her appropriately.
If she is a peer and her behaviour significantly affects the outcomes of your work, then you need to diplomatically raise your concerns to your superiors so that they can manage her appropriately.
If you are over reaching in your job and she's getting in your way, but at the end of the day, projects like this safety thing really aren't in your job title, then you need to let it go or again diplomatically raise your concerns with your superiors.

She sounds like an idiot, which is a much bigger problem for her than it is for you.
The only problem you have is that a lot of confident idiots are going to irritate you in life and you are going to have to either learn to work alongside them, or engineer your life and career so that you don't have to (work solo or from home, become the boss, whatever)

I guarantee you though, she won't be the last confident idiot you will come across, so you will need a strategy to avoid them getting to you so much.
At my company, we just promoted that guy, problem solved!

Not kidding.  When he first started, he used his ... loudness, aggressiveness, etc. to throw people under the bus.  Did it a lot.  Tried it on  me once, only once, before someone...maybe me?  Maybe someone else?  Pointed out that I'd worked for the company founders for over a decade and that shit don't fly.

Because he was an ass-kisser and so "social" when our boss (who saw through his bullshit) tried to lay him off, the big bosses saved and promoted him.  THat super pissed everyone off.  BUT, as others have said, not my circus, not my monkeys AND he's actually quite good at his new job managing work that other people do.  Because he no longer does much tech work and he's a complete PITA who gets things done because mostly the rest of us want him to STFU.


Here4theGB

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2019, 10:13:09 AM »
No offense, but arguing about the difference between a MSDS and SDS seems extremely petty TO. SAY. THE. LEAST.  In my industry, I hear MSDS over SDS by about 10 to 1.  Trying to be "right" and prove her "wrong" seems like a monumental waste of time.

PS.  I work with nothing BUT now-it-all's and phonies.  I just tune it all out.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2019, 10:22:29 AM »
No offense, but arguing about the difference between a MSDS and SDS seems extremely petty TO. SAY. THE. LEAST.  In my industry, I hear MSCS over SDS by about 10 to 1.  Trying to be "right" and prove her "wrong" seems like a monumental waste of time.

PS.  I work with nothing BUT now-it-all's and phonies.  I just tune it all out.

Yes I realize it's a trivial matter, and it was never my intent to be petty or try to prove her wrong.  There seemed to be some confusion with the employees by using the terminology interchangeably and I simply wanted to clarify.  Just a quick 10 second tidbit of information to unconfuse the participants. I really didn't anticipate any pushback from her, because 1. it's so trivial and doesn't matter, 2. it's easily verifiable with 30 seconds on google.  It's also literally the first item usually covered with the training because if you are completely ignorant and get blasted with different acronyms for the same thing your first thought is, "wait, what is the difference between MSDS and SDS? Why are they being used interchangeably?" - to which 10 seconds of background information completely clears up.

There are dozens of other examples, I just thought this one was super clear cut to demonstrate the type of personality I'm dealing with.

socaso

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2019, 10:26:07 AM »
It sounds like she has the potential to make things easier on you with all her energy and enthusiasm. Here's what I would do: first, tell her you really appreciate all the work she has done with safety training and the SDS books. Tell her it was long overdue. Point out that the company is basically starting from zero when it comes to safety training and all her efforts are a huge step forward. Then tell her there are a couple of things in the material she has prepared that don't line up with your understanding of how certain regulations work (or whatever it is). Ask her to do a some research into these things to ensure the material is correct. If she starts to tell you she's just sure it's right because of her past experience calmly reiterate that it doesn't line up with what you know and if the two of you have a different understanding of these things then it bears looking into more to make sure everything is correct. Tell her to send you her findings that support her opinion. Then end the conversation by saying since this is the first time the company has tackled safety training there is bound to be a little back and forth to get things perfect but you think the bulk of her work is great and let's just iron out these few details.

If you think 90% of what she is doing is right then she deserves credit for that so give it to her. Then make her work to get the other 10% right.

former player

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2019, 10:28:38 AM »
I don't have time to deal with all of the environmental, health, and safety issues at this company right now.  I simply don't have enough time to get everything done immediately, so I'm prioritizing and dealing with what I can when I can in the order I deem most important.  I believe this is probably going to take the better part of a year

Setting this annoying co-worker to the side for the minute, this is your biggest vulnerability at work right now.  You can't (and shouldn't) do more than is reasonably practical, and prioritising is the right way to go, as you have already put in place.  But until everything is fixed there is still a vulnerability for you and the company.  You can't prevent that, but you can prevent being blamed for it by making sure your manager has an easy to understand document setting out the problems, setting out what has already been done and why it was prioritised, setting out what needs to be done and the timetable for doing it.  Once a document like that is in your manager's hands, and updated reasonably regularly, both you and the company will be as close to OK over the next year as is possible.

Now, on to the annoying co-worker.  Do not make an enemy of this person.  Do not let anyone else in the organisation see that you are anything but on good terms with her- if you do either of these things you can only be the loser.  No, it's not right that it should work this way when you are both better at the job and the person who is supposed to be in charge, but the class nerd/swot (sorry) challenging the most popular girl in school in a popularity contest never has a good outcome - ask me how I know.

So the thing to do with this co-worker is work out what she is doing wrong that matters and what doesn't.  For instance, when she says to you that implementing systems is quick and easy or that she is OSHA certified, you know she's wrong but where's the harm?  Roll your eyeballs around in your head next time you go to the toilet, vent after work to your SO, and otherwise ignore.  If she is using MSDS rather than SDS in training, are people going to be unable to find/use/fill out the sheets?  If so, a fix is needed, if not let it go.  Don't challenge her on this in front of other people, again you will lose.  In your example, I might have spoken up but might have said something like "just to clarify, the company has introduced standardised sheets using the acronym SDS rather than MSDS but it's the same thing that X has just explained to you" - so no implication from what you have said that X is at fault but you get the necessary information across.

Yes, this is irritating, and takes up your valuable time and energy better spent elsewhere.  But unless and until this person falls down splat from her own mistakes it's the only way to go.  And in the meantime do everything you can to keep your own manager on your side.

Edit Weird - first paragraph should end "You can't prevent that, but you can prevent being blamed for it by making sure your manager has an easy to understand document setting out the problems, setting out what has already been done and why it was prioritised, setting out what needs to be done and the timetable for doing it.  Once a document like that is in your manager's hands, and updated reasonably regularly, both you and the company will be as close to OK over the next year as is possible" and it's showing up in preview but not in the post.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 10:36:43 AM by former player »

minimustache1985

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2019, 10:41:01 AM »

So the thing to do with this co-worker is work out what she is doing wrong that matters and what doesn't.  For instance, when she says to you that implementing systems is quick and easy or that she is OSHA certified, you know she's wrong but where's the harm?  Roll your eyeballs around in your head next time you go to the toilet, vent after work to your SO, and otherwise ignore.  If she is using MSDS rather than SDS in training, are people going to be unable to find/use/fill out the sheets?  If so, a fix is needed, if not let it go.  Don't challenge her on this in front of other people, again you will lose.  In your example, I might have spoken up but might have said something like "just to clarify, the company has introduced standardised sheets using the acronym SDS rather than MSDS but it's the same thing that X has just explained to you" - so no implication from what you have said that X is at fault but you get the necessary information across.


This.  Also consider the impact of the error, within that 10% of incorrect bullshit.  The real purpose of a safety program is to keep employees from getting hurt (or worse).  Is anyone going to get hurt because they think a SDS is called a MSDS?  Not unless it makes it impossible for them to find the SDS.  Now if the inspection or maintenance on safety systems (eyewash stations, fire extinguishers etc) is too far apart and someone could use an expired extinguisher or get rust in their eyes trying to flush them after a spill, then focus on correcting that.  As has been pointed out by others, do so diplomatically, getting 90% right and taking some of the burden off you is a work relationship worth nurturing not imploding despite the fact that it sounds like the 10% is SUPER obnoxious.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2019, 10:41:18 AM »
90% right and saving you time in getting needed tasks done is quite different from "idiot who doesn't know anything." What have your interactions been like so far? Is it all instances where you try to correct her? If so, I would sit down with her and thank her for all her help, make it clear that you value the areas she has knowledge in, and find a way to beef up the 10% of inaccuracies. At the same time, work on projecting confidence and developing stronger relationships with your coworkers.

Well she doesn't "literally know nothing", but she does lack a substantial amount of knowledge and common sense. 

There have been a lot of interactions.  One that she was quite persistent about was that we needed safety showers in the facility, but instead of mapping out the facility and deciding where we actually required them she wanted to get a portable shower and move it around.  Her logic was this: When someone gets a corrosive chemical on them requiring a shower, instead of heading directly to a stationary shower we simply have trained "team safety leads" who will run and get the portable shower and bring it to the person in need.  I tried explaining multiple times that the requirement is to get to a shower immediately, which means within 10 seconds, and adding in the relay of telling a coworker, who tells a team safety lead, who goes to get the shower and transport it back doesn't even make sense.  There are far too many steps involved in an emergency that requires a <10 second response.  Logistically it just doesn't work or make any sense.  Furthermore the requirement for a safety shower is 20 gallons/minute for 15 minutes, which 300 gallons of water which is 2,500 pounds.  It's not even physically possible to do.  I explained this all to her, but she was still insistent that it needed to be done.  I guess I understand if someone had this half baked idea while not understanding what the requirements actually are, but I had to explain it 3 or 4 times and eventually put it into an email and cc the plant manager before she dropped it.  She knows nothing about the regulation, despite knowing the actual regulation.  She has no concept of how much water it would require, despite being spelled out explicitly.  She has no concept of how much that water would weigh, even after multiple explanations of how much that much water would weigh.  And she has no concept that that multiple step process could not be conducted within the required time frame (assuming it was even physically possible which it's not).  How else would you describe that person other than being an idiot that knows nothing?

SKL-HOU

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2019, 10:49:58 AM »
I think you are giving her too much space in your head. Let it go. If 90% factual, then she is not an idiot and doesnít require you to be obsessing over her mistakes and certainly not worth your time or anyone elseís to get into petty arguments about MSDS vs SDS.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2019, 10:51:34 AM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2019, 10:56:59 AM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.
Does she watch Fox News?  I remember someone quoting a poll that found people watching Fox News know less news than people not watching the news at all.

[MOD NOTE: This seems needlessly volatile]
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 06:16:37 AM by FrugalToque »

jeromedawg

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2019, 11:01:38 AM »
Dealt with someone like this but the big difference is that he was (and probably still is) disliked by 99% of the rest of my team, which helped him get the boot. Still, I had to talk to my manager and peers about this before anything happened. The challenge you have is that this girl is "likable"... that is, until people start *realizing* that she doesn't know what she's talking about. We have a girl like this on our team currently - "likable" and talks like she's technical but offshores most of the work to others around her. At some point, the walls will cave in and the people she gets to do her work for her will slowly stop committing to that BS, because they know it's not their responsibility.

I think the big thing is if, like mentioned before, your manager realizes what's happening here. If not, it needs to be brought to light. But a lot of it is framing - obviously you don't go to her manager or yours (or if it's the same manager) and put her down directly. Instead, you express your "concerns" about some of the things done that are clearly wrong directly to the manager(s). Are you and her under the same manager? Or different management? At this rate, you may need to escalate it that path and let it get resolved "above your pay scale" - especially if it involves something significant. Like if she's doing crap that's hindering you in a major way to get stuff done *correctly* that's something your manager should be addressing. If it's one or two minor things that are just "annoying" I'm not sure how much you can do. But if it's *enough* minor things to the point where they start adding up and bogging things down at a larger scale, then you need to involve your manager.

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2019, 11:04:28 AM »
90% right and saving you time in getting needed tasks done is quite different from "idiot who doesn't know anything." What have your interactions been like so far? Is it all instances where you try to correct her? If so, I would sit down with her and thank her for all her help, make it clear that you value the areas she has knowledge in, and find a way to beef up the 10% of inaccuracies. At the same time, work on projecting confidence and developing stronger relationships with your coworkers.

Well she doesn't "literally know nothing", but she does lack a substantial amount of knowledge and common sense. 

There have been a lot of interactions.  One that she was quite persistent about was that we needed safety showers in the facility, but instead of mapping out the facility and deciding where we actually required them she wanted to get a portable shower and move it around.  Her logic was this: When someone gets a corrosive chemical on them requiring a shower, instead of heading directly to a stationary shower we simply have trained "team safety leads" who will run and get the portable shower and bring it to the person in need.  I tried explaining multiple times that the requirement is to get to a shower immediately, which means within 10 seconds, and adding in the relay of telling a coworker, who tells a team safety lead, who goes to get the shower and transport it back doesn't even make sense.  There are far too many steps involved in an emergency that requires a <10 second response.  Logistically it just doesn't work or make any sense.  Furthermore the requirement for a safety shower is 20 gallons/minute for 15 minutes, which 300 gallons of water which is 2,500 pounds.  It's not even physically possible to do.  I explained this all to her, but she was still insistent that it needed to be done.  I guess I understand if someone had this half baked idea while not understanding what the requirements actually are, but I had to explain it 3 or 4 times and eventually put it into an email and cc the plant manager before she dropped it.  She knows nothing about the regulation, despite knowing the actual regulation.  She has no concept of how much water it would require, despite being spelled out explicitly.  She has no concept of how much that water would weigh, even after multiple explanations of how much that much water would weigh.  And she has no concept that that multiple step process could not be conducted within the required time frame (assuming it was even physically possible which it's not).  How else would you describe that person other than being an idiot that knows nothing?

My point is that if you're only interacting with her when you try to correct something, and you do it with a condescending tone, of course she's going to keep being stubborn and fighting you. (You might say you're not being condescending at work, but based on your posts here, I bet it comes through.) Being diplomatic will get you further than insults will. Have you acknowledged, to her, that she is helping you out and does know some stuff? You said yourself that she's right on 90% of safety issues, even though she's essentially a volunteer, not hired as a safety expert. If you have authority to correct the last 10%, then what is the big problem? Honestly, if I was your manager, and you came to me calling someone an idiot who knows no nothing because she used MSDS instead of SDS, then also said she's been helping you get materials done that just need a final edit, I'd be annoyed with you, not her.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2019, 11:13:17 AM »
I think you are giving her too much space in your head. Let it go. If 90% factual, then she is not an idiot and doesnít require you to be obsessing over her mistakes and certainly not worth your time or anyone elseís to get into petty arguments about MSDS vs SDS.

I think you all are focussing too much on the MSDS vs SDS.  It was simply a short interaction that was never intended to be confrontational but perfectly demonstrates what I am dealing with.  For the record I don't give a fuck if they are called MSDS, or if our books have MSDS (or in this case MDSS) printed on them as long as the contents are correct, and I don't intend to revisit that conversation with her.  I do anticipate that I will have other interactions with her that will be similar, and they may not be so trivial and inconsequential.  I have very little experience dealing with that type of response, because I generally just don't deal with that type of person.  However I am stuck dealing with her, so how do I handle it when a similar situation happens?

In the same training session she also said:

She is familiar with "OSHA, NIOSHA, and EEE PUH".  Yes she calls the EPA "eee puh".  Yes she is confused about NIOSH and thinks it is NIOSHA.  No she didn't mention MIOSHA (Michigan OSHA). I don't believe she is conflating MIOSHA with NIOSH because she is citing the NIOSH PEL limits, I just think she doesn't know about MIOSHA and doesn't have a full understanding of NIOSH.

Are all of these inconsequential? Probably, but it gives me pause about her being in charge of anything.

She also made claims about PEL for various chemicals, and when asked by an employee if that exposure limit was applicable even with PPE like a respirator told him that yes it was.  That's wrong and that's not how any of this works.  The use of PPE is required specifically because you would otherwise be above the PEL, and the PPE protects you from that exposure.  It seems that she doesn't understand this concept, which is crazy because I don't understand how there is any other way to understand it.   
 

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2019, 11:26:16 AM »
90% right and saving you time in getting needed tasks done is quite different from "idiot who doesn't know anything." What have your interactions been like so far? Is it all instances where you try to correct her? If so, I would sit down with her and thank her for all her help, make it clear that you value the areas she has knowledge in, and find a way to beef up the 10% of inaccuracies. At the same time, work on projecting confidence and developing stronger relationships with your coworkers.

Well she doesn't "literally know nothing", but she does lack a substantial amount of knowledge and common sense. 

There have been a lot of interactions.  One that she was quite persistent about was that we needed safety showers in the facility, but instead of mapping out the facility and deciding where we actually required them she wanted to get a portable shower and move it around.  Her logic was this: When someone gets a corrosive chemical on them requiring a shower, instead of heading directly to a stationary shower we simply have trained "team safety leads" who will run and get the portable shower and bring it to the person in need.  I tried explaining multiple times that the requirement is to get to a shower immediately, which means within 10 seconds, and adding in the relay of telling a coworker, who tells a team safety lead, who goes to get the shower and transport it back doesn't even make sense.  There are far too many steps involved in an emergency that requires a <10 second response.  Logistically it just doesn't work or make any sense.  Furthermore the requirement for a safety shower is 20 gallons/minute for 15 minutes, which 300 gallons of water which is 2,500 pounds.  It's not even physically possible to do.  I explained this all to her, but she was still insistent that it needed to be done.  I guess I understand if someone had this half baked idea while not understanding what the requirements actually are, but I had to explain it 3 or 4 times and eventually put it into an email and cc the plant manager before she dropped it.  She knows nothing about the regulation, despite knowing the actual regulation.  She has no concept of how much water it would require, despite being spelled out explicitly.  She has no concept of how much that water would weigh, even after multiple explanations of how much that much water would weigh.  And she has no concept that that multiple step process could not be conducted within the required time frame (assuming it was even physically possible which it's not).  How else would you describe that person other than being an idiot that knows nothing?

My point is that if you're only interacting with her when you try to correct something, and you do it with a condescending tone, of course she's going to keep being stubborn and fighting you. (You might say you're not being condescending at work, but based on your posts here, I bet it comes through.) Being diplomatic will get you further than insults will. Have you acknowledged, to her, that she is helping you out and does know some stuff? You said yourself that she's right on 90% of safety issues, even though she's essentially a volunteer, not hired as a safety expert. If you have authority to correct the last 10%, then what is the big problem? Honestly, if I was your manager, and you came to me calling someone an idiot who knows no nothing because she used MSDS instead of SDS, then also said she's been helping you get materials done that just need a final edit, I'd be annoyed with you, not her.

How do you explain the portable shower scenario to someone for the 4th time without being condescending? I mean I tried to, but even after explicitly spelling it out and citing the regulations and showing the math of why it's unfeasible, and she is still insistant, how do you not be condescending?  I didn't call her an idiot, but I'm sure my tone and body language definitely implied I that's what I thought.

Malcat

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2019, 11:27:02 AM »
I think you are giving her too much space in your head. Let it go. If 90% factual, then she is not an idiot and doesnít require you to be obsessing over her mistakes and certainly not worth your time or anyone elseís to get into petty arguments about MSDS vs SDS.

I think you all are focussing too much on the MSDS vs SDS.  It was simply a short interaction that was never intended to be confrontational but perfectly demonstrates what I am dealing with.  For the record I don't give a fuck if they are called MSDS, or if our books have MSDS (or in this case MDSS) printed on them as long as the contents are correct, and I don't intend to revisit that conversation with her.  I do anticipate that I will have other interactions with her that will be similar, and they may not be so trivial and inconsequential.  I have very little experience dealing with that type of response, because I generally just don't deal with that type of person.  However I am stuck dealing with her, so how do I handle it when a similar situation happens?

In the same training session she also said:

She is familiar with "OSHA, NIOSHA, and EEE PUH".  Yes she calls the EPA "eee puh".  Yes she is confused about NIOSH and thinks it is NIOSHA.  No she didn't mention MIOSHA (Michigan OSHA). I don't believe she is conflating MIOSHA with NIOSH because she is citing the NIOSH PEL limits, I just think she doesn't know about MIOSHA and doesn't have a full understanding of NIOSH.

Are all of these inconsequential? Probably, but it gives me pause about her being in charge of anything.

She also made claims about PEL for various chemicals, and when asked by an employee if that exposure limit was applicable even with PPE like a respirator told him that yes it was.  That's wrong and that's not how any of this works.  The use of PPE is required specifically because you would otherwise be above the PEL, and the PPE protects you from that exposure.  It seems that she doesn't understand this concept, which is crazy because I don't understand how there is any other way to understand it.   
 

You have said that she's 90% correct, so if that's true, then any examples you give sound petty.

Either she's 90% correct and you're making a big deal of the 10% or she isn't actually 90% correct and her errors are a significant problem. Personally, as someone who just did this whole safety thing, she sounds to me a lot more than 10% wrong, but I don't actually know because I'm not dealing with her.

Just know, it's your own words that are making people respond the way that they are in this thread. And just FYI, the way you are correcting people's interpretations here is making you sound condescending.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2019, 11:42:06 AM »
How do you explain the portable shower scenario to someone for the 4th time without being condescending? I mean I tried to, but even after explicitly spelling it out and citing the regulations and showing the math of why it's unfeasible, and she is still insistant, how do you not be condescending?  I didn't call her an idiot, but I'm sure my tone and body language definitely implied I that's what I thought.

I would stop trying to convince her in person. I'm assuming neither of you are ultimately responsible for the final decision, or you would just make the decision and be done with it. So is it the plant manager making that decision on safety showers? If so, stop arguing with this coworker and simply present your case to the plant manager. Or whoever is the decision-maker on the next issue that comes up. Concurrently, start thanking her for her contributions and knowledge when they're helpful. You need to have some positive interactions with her if you want to salvage your working relationship and have influence over her errors. Nobody is right 100% of the time. Care when it matters, stop fighting when it doesn't. If the errors become too frequent, then escalate to someone with authority.

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2019, 11:51:19 AM »
I think you are giving her too much space in your head. Let it go. If 90% factual, then she is not an idiot and doesnít require you to be obsessing over her mistakes and certainly not worth your time or anyone elseís to get into petty arguments about MSDS vs SDS.

I think you all are focussing too much on the MSDS vs SDS.  It was simply a short interaction that was never intended to be confrontational but perfectly demonstrates what I am dealing with.  For the record I don't give a fuck if they are called MSDS, or if our books have MSDS (or in this case MDSS) printed on them as long as the contents are correct, and I don't intend to revisit that conversation with her.  I do anticipate that I will have other interactions with her that will be similar, and they may not be so trivial and inconsequential.  I have very little experience dealing with that type of response, because I generally just don't deal with that type of person.  However I am stuck dealing with her, so how do I handle it when a similar situation happens?

In the same training session she also said:

She is familiar with "OSHA, NIOSHA, and EEE PUH".  Yes she calls the EPA "eee puh".  Yes she is confused about NIOSH and thinks it is NIOSHA.  No she didn't mention MIOSHA (Michigan OSHA). I don't believe she is conflating MIOSHA with NIOSH because she is citing the NIOSH PEL limits, I just think she doesn't know about MIOSHA and doesn't have a full understanding of NIOSH.

Are all of these inconsequential? Probably, but it gives me pause about her being in charge of anything.

She also made claims about PEL for various chemicals, and when asked by an employee if that exposure limit was applicable even with PPE like a respirator told him that yes it was.  That's wrong and that's not how any of this works.  The use of PPE is required specifically because you would otherwise be above the PEL, and the PPE protects you from that exposure.  It seems that she doesn't understand this concept, which is crazy because I don't understand how there is any other way to understand it.   
 

You have said that she's 90% correct, so if that's true, then any examples you give sound petty.

Either she's 90% correct and you're making a big deal of the 10% or she isn't actually 90% correct and her errors are a significant problem. Personally, as someone who just did this whole safety thing, she sounds to me a lot more than 10% wrong, but I don't actually know because I'm not dealing with her.

Just know, it's your own words that are making people respond the way that they are in this thread. And just FYI, the way you are correcting people's interpretations here is making you sound condescending.

Some of the 10% is trivial (MSDS/SDS), some of it is not trivial and shows a misunderstanding of some fundamental concepts (safety shower, PEL and PPE).  It may not be a 90/10 split, I don't know exactly.  She may be more than 10% wrong.  I don't know how you'd classify it all.  For example with the safety shower.  She knows the regulation, she knows we need them, and has a plan to implement it.  But it's completely unfeasible.  Does she get some credit for knowing the regulation and where it's applicable?  Is she 50% in that instance?  Or 0% because it's completely unfeasible? Or maybe even less than 0% because not only would it be completely ineffective but it would take up a significant amount of company resources? 

I don't mean to be condescending in this thread.  I've received feedback in real life and on the internet that I can be condescending and unempathetic, even though it's not my intention.  Apparently I'm just an asshole.


frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2019, 11:54:44 AM »
I'm also not trying to skip over some of the other posts that I haven't replied to, I just don't have time to respond to all of them right now.  I appreciate all the feedback and responses though.  It's already been helpful and therapeutic.

Malcat

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2019, 11:55:15 AM »
Some of the 10% is trivial (MSDS/SDS), some of it is not trivial and shows a misunderstanding of some fundamental concepts (safety shower, PEL and PPE).  It may not be a 90/10 split, I don't know exactly.  She may be more than 10% wrong.  I don't know how you'd classify it all.  For example with the safety shower.  She knows the regulation, she knows we need them, and has a plan to implement it.  But it's completely unfeasible.  Does she get some credit for knowing the regulation and where it's applicable?  Is she 50% in that instance?  Or 0% because it's completely unfeasible? Or maybe even less than 0% because not only would it be completely ineffective but it would take up a significant amount of company resources? 

I don't mean to be condescending in this thread.  I've received feedback in real life and on the internet that I can be condescending and unempathetic, even though it's not my intention.  Apparently I'm just an asshole.

You don't seem like an asshole, but you do seem like someone who really needs to work on their people skills if you want to be successful working with people. If you figure this out, you will also figure out how to handle idiots in the future. A big part of handling idiots is not making them feel like idiots.

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2019, 12:16:35 PM »
Disclaimer: Iím also someone who isnít good at handling idiots. So my workaround for a situation like this would be to let her do the things that stroke her ego and donít really matter, like the trainings (nobody really remembers the details from those anyway, just the big picture and to refer to documents). Let her think she produced the documents but go back over them and correct them where there wrong (and I wouldnít point it out to her). And then you handle the things that really matter, like actually having showers and eye wash stations that meet regulations, are in the proper locations, and actually work.

pk_aeryn

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2019, 03:51:45 PM »
Quote
No I am not her manager, but the environmental, health, and safety of the facility are all my responsibility.

Does this mean you have the ultimate decision over the showers?  If so, donít consult her about it. Just implement what the correct thing is.  If she complains about your decision to the higher ups and they side with her, your actual problem here is not with her, but your upper management and the lack of ultimate authority they are giving you for such important work.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2019, 06:05:51 PM »
Hahhahhaa, the emergency shower thing is actually funny. How about next time she suggests something like that you tell her the regulations and ask for a working prototype and drill. That would be hilariously funny, watching people trying to run 300 plus gallons of water to a patient.

SKL-HOU

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2019, 07:00:13 PM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

Assuming you live in the US, i bet there are a LOT of people, even well-educated ones that havenít heard of Chernobyl. I have learned to accept not everyone is interested in anything outside the US.
MSDS example aside, if she is 90% of the time right, why are you so obsessed? Are you right 100% of the time? I think your energy is better spent elsewhere. Why continue to argue with her over things and annoy yourself (and possibly others)? If you feel the urge to correct her on something, offer your side ONCE in a non-condescending way (unlike this thread) and stop creating pretty arguments for your own peace of mind.

Weisass

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2019, 05:16:17 AM »
The challenge you have is that this girl is "likable"... that is, until people start *realizing* that she doesn't know what she's talking about. We have a girl like this on our team currently - "likable" and talks like she's technical but offshores most of the work to others around her.


Umm. Sheís not a teenager. Sheís a woman. I wouldnít call a guy I disliked at work a boy. Letís accord the same respect to female coworkers, please?

Zamboni

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2019, 06:19:00 AM »
Lol, you soooo have my sympathy!

There are two main barriers here:
1) you are the new guy.
2) you are detail oriented and she obviously has her strength in other areas. ;-)

MDSS is hilarious . . . printed on the notebooks? Reminds me of when we had a lab safety manager who made a bunch of labels that said "Harzardous waste" and took it upon herself to run around sticking them on all the waste containers in every area, including the little jar in my hood, which already said hazardous waste on it and she pasted her label over it, which kind of pissed me off. Then we got cited during an inspection (literally) for having the word spelled wrong. Good times!

For your own sanity, you need to try to be lighthearted about the little things and ONLY focus on the major things. The safety shower thing is major . . . but everything else you've cited so far is minor (assuming she doesn't do any concentration calculations, because that "independent of volume" idea obviously will cause some problems if that is ever part of her job.)

Honestly I think you need to do everything in your own mental power to try to get to like this lady as much as you can. She is a fixture there and you are not. You need her on your side. You need to find a way for her to not grate your nerves for your own sanity. Everyone there needs her to be willing to listen to you when it matters. So, learn to take her in stride. Compliment her as much as you can whenever she works really hard or does something right. Tell her you really admire her work ethic (or whatever you can think of to admire . . . come up with a list of 3 sincere things.) She's probably really insecure and complimenting her a lot will get her to agree with you more often. Work on your diplomacy. You don't have to agree with her on everything, but save the actual voicing of disagreement for the really, really big deal stuff. Oh, and don't forget to SMILE! I'm a disillusioned elitist and that works for me, but the new guy has to SMILE!

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #36 on: September 24, 2019, 07:18:34 AM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

Assuming you live in the US, i bet there are a LOT of people, even well-educated ones that havenít heard of Chernobyl. I have learned to accept not everyone is interested in anything outside the US.
MSDS example aside, if she is 90% of the time right, why are you so obsessed? Are you right 100% of the time? I think your energy is better spent elsewhere. Why continue to argue with her over things and annoy yourself (and possibly others)? If you feel the urge to correct her on something, offer your side ONCE in a non-condescending way (unlike this thread) and stop creating pretty arguments for your own peace of mind.

I thought maybe I was in a bubble and just assuming everyone knew about chernobyl because I did, so I asked around after that incident and couldn't find a single adult that didn't know.   Almost everyone I asked in turn asked me why I had asked them, so I explained the story and multiple people were incredulous that she didn't know about chernobyl.
 

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #37 on: September 24, 2019, 07:46:26 AM »
Lol, you soooo have my sympathy!

There are two main barriers here:
1) you are the new guy.
2) you are detail oriented and she obviously has her strength in other areas. ;-)

MDSS is hilarious . . . printed on the notebooks? Reminds me of when we had a lab safety manager who made a bunch of labels that said "Harzardous waste" and took it upon herself to run around sticking them on all the waste containers in every area, including the little jar in my hood, which already said hazardous waste on it and she pasted her label over it, which kind of pissed me off. Then we got cited during an inspection (literally) for having the word spelled wrong. Good times!

For your own sanity, you need to try to be lighthearted about the little things and ONLY focus on the major things. The safety shower thing is major . . . but everything else you've cited so far is minor (assuming she doesn't do any concentration calculations, because that "independent of volume" idea obviously will cause some problems if that is ever part of her job.)

Honestly I think you need to do everything in your own mental power to try to get to like this lady as much as you can. She is a fixture there and you are not. You need her on your side. You need to find a way for her to not grate your nerves for your own sanity. Everyone there needs her to be willing to listen to you when it matters. So, learn to take her in stride. Compliment her as much as you can whenever she works really hard or does something right. Tell her you really admire her work ethic (or whatever you can think of to admire . . . come up with a list of 3 sincere things.) She's probably really insecure and complimenting her a lot will get her to agree with you more often. Work on your diplomacy. You don't have to agree with her on everything, but save the actual voicing of disagreement for the really, really big deal stuff. Oh, and don't forget to SMILE! I'm a disillusioned elitist and that works for me, but the new guy has to SMILE!

She's only been here a week longer than me.  It was confusing my first week, because she was walking around like she owned the place and knew everything.  I just assumed she was a seasoned veteran of this place by her confidence and the way she projected herself.  She was so confident that I tried talking to her about a few things, namely our sewer discharge permits, and despite her rambling on and on about how much she's worked with that agency and is familiar with the permits (in general, not our facilities specific permits) she doesn't have a clue about the environmental side. 

That's funny about misspelling hazardous, and I have a similar story with her.  As my predecessor left and I took over we needed to update the emergency posters around the plant and replace his name and contact information with mine.  Simple enough task.  I said we needed 7 copies of the poster for me to post around the plant.   She took it upon herself to update it, and also make some "improvements".  She made the changes, printed out all 7 copies (each copy is 3 pages) and laminated them all, without having anyone review it or getting any input from anyone.  She had 10 spelling mistakes on the poster.  Personnel, procedures, first, accidental, litter, bruising, hazard, yellow, appropriate, hazardous <- the 10 words she misspelled.  I took a picture of it because it was so comical.  When I told her I found some spelling mistakes she insisted I was wrong and the poster was right, so I just showed her the poster with post it notes pointing to all the misspelled words along with their correct spelling.  She just kind of shrugged it off and said spell check must not have been enabled.  I did this privately so no one else in the company knew so as not to embarrass her.

She also updated the poster to include a few steps in case of fire.  Step one was to run and notify a safety team leader.  Step 2 was to go and find some caution tape and cordon off the area around the fire.  Step 3 was to attempt to extinguish the fire.  I tried to calmly explain how insane it is to run to another building to notify a "safety team leader", and find caution tape and cordon off the area all while a fire is raging, and extinguishing the fire (if possible) is absolutely step 1.  After the fire is safely extinguished and is no longer an emergency you can do the other steps, and if you can't extinguish the fire then evacuation and emergency notification is the first step.  She gave me pushback on that, but I had to put my foot down and insist if she's going to include steps to combat a fire that extinguishing the fire absolutely has to be priority number 1.  Can you imagine seeing a small fire break out and you decide to run to another building to notify a team lead, then go off on a hunt for caution tape which is not kept readily available, all before even attempting to use a fire extinguisher?  My mind was being boggled. 

Kris

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #38 on: September 24, 2019, 07:55:36 AM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

Assuming you live in the US, i bet there are a LOT of people, even well-educated ones that havenít heard of Chernobyl. I have learned to accept not everyone is interested in anything outside the US.
MSDS example aside, if she is 90% of the time right, why are you so obsessed? Are you right 100% of the time? I think your energy is better spent elsewhere. Why continue to argue with her over things and annoy yourself (and possibly others)? If you feel the urge to correct her on something, offer your side ONCE in a non-condescending way (unlike this thread) and stop creating pretty arguments for your own peace of mind.

I thought maybe I was in a bubble and just assuming everyone knew about chernobyl because I did, so I asked around after that incident and couldn't find a single adult that didn't know.   Almost everyone I asked in turn asked me why I had asked them, so I explained the story and multiple people were incredulous that she didn't know about chernobyl.

I hope you didnít do that at work...

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #39 on: September 24, 2019, 07:58:02 AM »
Quote
No I am not her manager, but the environmental, health, and safety of the facility are all my responsibility.

Does this mean you have the ultimate decision over the showers?  If so, donít consult her about it. Just implement what the correct thing is.  If she complains about your decision to the higher ups and they side with her, your actual problem here is not with her, but your upper management and the lack of ultimate authority they are giving you for such important work.

Kind of?  I don't actually have the authority to purchase large items.  If I deem we need safety showers installed I would have to present it to the plant manager who would either make the purchase or authorize me to make the purchase, but I don't believe I could just do it without his approval.   I do have approval for smaller stuff, but it's never really been discussed in detail where the cut off is.  But installation of plumbed safety showers would be thousands of dollars and some major maintenance projects, so that would for sure be decided by my manager. 

frugalnacho

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #40 on: September 24, 2019, 07:58:51 AM »
Another interaction I had which still gives me lots of laughs and is not directly related to work, but had me shaking my head nonetheless:

(Just bullshitting and making small talk while we are both in the same lab)

me:  I started watching Chernobyl this weekend.  It's really good.
her: What's that?
me: It's an HBO documentary/miniseries about Chernobyl.  It's about 6 hours long and I'm about halfway through.
her: Oh.  What's it about?
me: Uh...Chernobyl.
her: Oh what's that?
me: Uh...It was a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that had a major disaster.
her: Oh wow that sounds bad.  I've never heard of it.
me: You've never heard of Chernobyl?  It was one of the worst disasters.  Ever.
her: No.


Like I said, not related to work in anyway, but who the fuck has never heard of the chernobyl disaster? I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

Assuming you live in the US, i bet there are a LOT of people, even well-educated ones that havenít heard of Chernobyl. I have learned to accept not everyone is interested in anything outside the US.
MSDS example aside, if she is 90% of the time right, why are you so obsessed? Are you right 100% of the time? I think your energy is better spent elsewhere. Why continue to argue with her over things and annoy yourself (and possibly others)? If you feel the urge to correct her on something, offer your side ONCE in a non-condescending way (unlike this thread) and stop creating pretty arguments for your own peace of mind.

I thought maybe I was in a bubble and just assuming everyone knew about chernobyl because I did, so I asked around after that incident and couldn't find a single adult that didn't know.   Almost everyone I asked in turn asked me why I had asked them, so I explained the story and multiple people were incredulous that she didn't know about chernobyl.

I hope you didnít do that at work...

No I didn't, just family and friends.

RWD

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2019, 08:44:14 AM »
I don't expect random people to know all the details about it, but I've never met someone that hasn't even heard of Chernobyl.

Assuming you live in the US, i bet there are a LOT of people, even well-educated ones that havenít heard of Chernobyl. I have learned to accept not everyone is interested in anything outside the US.

I thought maybe I was in a bubble and just assuming everyone knew about chernobyl because I did, so I asked around after that incident and couldn't find a single adult that didn't know.   Almost everyone I asked in turn asked me why I had asked them, so I explained the story and multiple people were incredulous that she didn't know about chernobyl.

For your average person being unaware of Chernobyl is already pretty nuts, it's one of the worst man-made disasters of all time. Someone presuming to be an authority on safety having never heard of it is absolutely absurd.

Tester

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2019, 08:48:35 AM »
When she is wrong without consequences, let it go.
When she affects your responsibilities first explain your opinion. If she insists you simply let her know you will validate the decision with whoever makes the decision. And you do it, in written.
That is it.
I need to emphasize, IN WRITTEN.
one more case, if she is impacting safety/compliance outside your responsibilities you again bring up your concerns with her, once, next step written communication.
The written communication is about your concerns for the safety/compliance of the business, not about your concerns about her being wrong.

Edit: after several problems, talk with your manager to let him know what is happening and tell him you will send him an e-mail with all problems. Then send the e-mail.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 08:51:16 AM by Tester »

former player

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2019, 08:56:26 AM »
When she is wrong without consequences, let it go.
When she affects your responsibilities first explain your opinion. If she insists you simply let her know you will validate the decision with whoever makes the decision. And you do it, in written.
That is it.
I need to emphasize, IN WRITTEN.
one more case, if she is impacting safety/compliance outside your responsibilities you again bring up your concerns with her, once, next step written communication.
The written communication is about your concerns for the safety/compliance of the business, not about your concerns about her being wrong.

Edit: after several problems, talk with your manager to let him know what is happening and tell him you will send him an e-mail with all problems. Then send the e-mail.
I agree.  You are allowing this woman to take up far too much of your headspace.  Feel free to vent here if you need to, but otherwise confine what you do in relation to her to what is consequential to your role in the organisation, making sure that you are not crossing her unnecessarily or in front of others unnecessarily, and documenting anything which might be a future issue.

big_owl

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2019, 10:33:07 AM »
I wish I was right 90% of the time at work.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2019, 03:41:57 PM »
Let her do her thing. Last Friday I went for beer with a colleague and had him bad mouth my "expert" colleague, it was a hilarious 10 minutes while I kept silent and enjoyed it. People notice, they just usually keep quiet so as to appear like nice people. Generally, inept people get well known but it takes time. You aren't the smartest guy in the room (no offence, just roll with it), other people will notice as well. I use to get mad for the same reason, until I heard others complain and realized it wasn't just me noticing.

Particularly a poster, I guarantee people will mock it and make jokes behind your back. After a few years, the operators at plants know who is full of shit and who to trust.

Zamboni

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2019, 05:41:57 PM »
Ah, well, if she hasn't been there much longer than you have, I am more confident that everyone else will figure out her level of incompetence. Especially after your poster story.

So just out play, out wit, out last.

FamilyGuy

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2019, 06:25:32 PM »
Sometimes you have to just watch it look a bad scene in a movie until it directly impacts your work. It is better to talk your boss in your 1:1 about things you don't agree with her with reasons and ask direction. It is basically throwing the ball at your manager. You said your concerns and if anything goes bad your manager is well aware.

Freedom2016

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #48 on: September 24, 2019, 07:15:43 PM »
I think you are giving her too much space in your head. Let it go. If 90% factual, then she is not an idiot and doesnít require you to be obsessing over her mistakes and certainly not worth your time or anyone elseís to get into petty arguments about MSDS vs SDS.

I think you all are focussing too much on the MSDS vs SDS.  It was simply a short interaction that was never intended to be confrontational but perfectly demonstrates what I am dealing with.  For the record I don't give a fuck if they are called MSDS, or if our books have MSDS (or in this case MDSS) printed on them as long as the contents are correct, and I don't intend to revisit that conversation with her.  I do anticipate that I will have other interactions with her that will be similar, and they may not be so trivial and inconsequential.  I have very little experience dealing with that type of response, because I generally just don't deal with that type of person.  However I am stuck dealing with her, so how do I handle it when a similar situation happens?

In the same training session she also said:

She is familiar with "OSHA, NIOSHA, and EEE PUH".  Yes she calls the EPA "eee puh".  Yes she is confused about NIOSH and thinks it is NIOSHA.  No she didn't mention MIOSHA (Michigan OSHA). I don't believe she is conflating MIOSHA with NIOSH because she is citing the NIOSH PEL limits, I just think she doesn't know about MIOSHA and doesn't have a full understanding of NIOSH.

Are all of these inconsequential? Probably, but it gives me pause about her being in charge of anything.

She also made claims about PEL for various chemicals, and when asked by an employee if that exposure limit was applicable even with PPE like a respirator told him that yes it was.  That's wrong and that's not how any of this works.  The use of PPE is required specifically because you would otherwise be above the PEL, and the PPE protects you from that exposure.  It seems that she doesn't understand this concept, which is crazy because I don't understand how there is any other way to understand it.   
 

You have said that she's 90% correct, so if that's true, then any examples you give sound petty.

Either she's 90% correct and you're making a big deal of the 10% or she isn't actually 90% correct and her errors are a significant problem. Personally, as someone who just did this whole safety thing, she sounds to me a lot more than 10% wrong, but I don't actually know because I'm not dealing with her.

Just know, it's your own words that are making people respond the way that they are in this thread. And just FYI, the way you are correcting people's interpretations here is making you sound condescending.

Some of the 10% is trivial (MSDS/SDS), some of it is not trivial and shows a misunderstanding of some fundamental concepts (safety shower, PEL and PPE).  It may not be a 90/10 split, I don't know exactly.  She may be more than 10% wrong.  I don't know how you'd classify it all.  For example with the safety shower.  She knows the regulation, she knows we need them, and has a plan to implement it.  But it's completely unfeasible.  Does she get some credit for knowing the regulation and where it's applicable?  Is she 50% in that instance?  Or 0% because it's completely unfeasible? Or maybe even less than 0% because not only would it be completely ineffective but it would take up a significant amount of company resources? 

I don't mean to be condescending in this thread.  I've received feedback in real life and on the internet that I can be condescending and unempathetic, even though it's not my intention.  Apparently I'm just an asshole.

You might really benefit from reading the book Thanks for the Feedback. Touches on lots of themes that are coming through in your thread. Its predecessor book, Difficult Conversations, is also a solid read and you might get some useful ideas for how to handle these interactions.

use2betrix

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Re: Dealing with a know-it-all coworker
« Reply #49 on: September 24, 2019, 07:53:46 PM »
I think you are really grasping at straws with the whole OSHA 30 thing..

I have an OSHA 30 certification, meaning I completed a compliant OSHA 30 qualified training course. My wife has taken an OSHA 10 course. The woman that did the training class for my wifeís OSHA 10 course was certified to teach the course.