Career Advice >> Browse Articles >> Workplace Issues


Angry and Insulted by Coworkers Doing My Job

Angry and Insulted by Coworkers Doing My Job

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

The key to this way of thinking is that you’re not just “mad because they did my work.” You need to go beyond that to explain why that’s a problem (even if the “why” seems obvious to you). That’s how you turn an emotional reaction into a professional one. Otherwise, even though of course division of labor is important and there for a reason, your reaction can sound more like a turf war, that you’re not a team player, etc. You might have completely legitimate reasons for being upset about this — but you have to calmly articulate why this creates a problem, not just fall back on “this was mine to do.”

(By the way, a disclaimer: I’m assuming that E and C really shouldn’t have done what they did — although it’s possible that everyone was supposed to be pitching in on everything. Since I don’t know, I’m assuming the former.)

Your email to your boss was a bad idea for the reasons above. I’d send a follow-up telling him that you overreacted and that you’re going to take a more constructive approach with C and E. Keep it short, calm, and unemotional.

Last, this has to be said too: It’s worth thinking about why C and E stepped in. Maybe they did your work for innocent reasons (eager to help, on a roll, unclear about division of labor, working on something related and this was natural to include, just not thinking, etc.) … but maybe they did your work because they don’t think you’re going to do it well, or fast enough, or at all. This last possibility is the one that insulted you, of course — but you should ask yourself honestly if there’s any reason for them to think that.

The fact that you were so emotional about it might indicate that there’s some truth to it, simply because if you were 100% confident about your work, I don’t think this would have felt as threatening to you. So be really, really truthful with yourself if there’s anything like that going on … and if there’s not, great, but it’s worth taking a look at.