Co-workers ‘can’t take’ your snapping? Problem may be you

Co-workers ‘can’t take’ your snapping? Problem may be you


About twice a week, and only when I’ve just about had it with customers or my workload, I snap at coworkers. I don’t mean anything by it and later I always say I’m sorry. After a while, those I work with learn how to “take me” and there are no problems.

Unfortunately, we have a new clerk in the office. She arrives at work all bubbly and wants to talk first thing in the morning. I’m not a morning person and don’t like to interact with others until I’ve had two or three cups of coffee.  This morning she offered me banana bread and I said “I don’t want to be bothered” in what I’m told was a harsh voice.  Apparently she then cried off and on all morning, and when our manager asked her what was up, the clerk unloaded about how I’ve treated her.

The manager called me on the carpet. I listened to the complaint and asked why the clerk, if she was so upset, hadn’t come to me.  I pointed out that I take full responsibility for my behavior and always say I’m sorry, but this clerk, like a squirrel storing nuts, stored up all the times I snapped and apparently didn’t mention that that I always apologize afterwards. I left this meeting irritated and now don’t know to interact with this clerk, other than to avoid her.


You don’t take full responsibility. Full responsibility means that you don’t repeat a problem behavior again and again. When this doesn’t happen, your apologies ring hollow.

Further, you lay the problem at the feet of others. You critiqued the clerk for not coming to you. You expect others to learn how to “take” you.

Yes, this clerk could have done things differently. You don’t, however, have control over her behavior, only over yours, and now you plan to avoid a co-worker whose major mistake was offering you a treat. What can you do instead? Realize this problem starts with you. Others don’t need to learn how to take your snapping turtle routine if you cut it out. Finally, while I personally give non-morning colleagues space, you might drink those two cups of coffee before you head to work.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at



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