Awful coworkers can make your life at work ... awful. But you may need to stick with that work for now, so consider these questions:
Is the coworker needling you just to see you react? Your task, then, is to simply refuse to engage. For example, if he asks, “Didja get any last night?” fix him with a brief hard stare and then continue to work. Consistently behaving in an adult fashion makes the coworker look like the naughty child he, in fact, is.
Is the coworker trying to sabotage you or your work? In this case, you must act. If she claims you didn’t finish your Friday report until Monday, for example, correct the record immediately, in front of everyone. State the facts: “Actually, I submitted my report at 3 p.m. on Friday.” Keep cool. Move on.
You will most likely never love a coworker from hell. Your goal is a working détente. And if this proves impossible? You’ll need to take the problem to someone higher up. Have documentation of the abuse or sabotage. Be ready to describe how you’ve tried to resolve the situation on your own. State your case calmly and thoroughly.
No matter what, continue to do your job well, and make sure your boss knows it. And, maybe, start networking for a new and better job, working with pleasant and sane people.
Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009 (but available now for pre order at Amazon!). She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .