How to deal with mean colleague

posted
14-Jul-16, 14:39
by enzyme
Avatar for enzyme
posted about 3 years ago
Hi Everyone,
I’m second year PhD student and I’m writing to ask your opinion about how to manage this situation.
I’m super happy with my PhD projects, my PI is very nice/open-minded, and I work in an overall nice environment, aside from ONE colleague. I personally don’t like wasting time thinking of the sly behavior of this empty person, and I rather prefer to focus on my scientific interests, but today I will make an exception because she really stressed me out this week, so I will dedicate 10 min of my life to her by writing this post so that it could help me to calm me down.
So, this PhD student in my lab is extremely sneaky, sly and mean. I will make some examples to let you ‘taste’ which kind of person I’ve to deal with and see if you have any advice.

- First of all, apparently one of her favorite activities is to go around saying to colleagues things not true that (she claims) a person X (e.g. myself) has said about them behind their back. One trend that I noticed is that what she says is usually something that could be useful to herself and at the same time put the other person in a bad position. In this way she is creating a shitty environment and is trying to put the person of interest against the other one (this is her 'constitutive behaviour' indeed she does it a bit with everyone but unluckily I’m her 'favorite target'). Her behavior reminded me the Latin ‘Dividi et impera’ (Divide and conquer).
posted
14-Jul-16, 14:42
edited about 7 seconds later
by enzyme
Avatar for enzyme
posted about 3 years ago
- Another example of slyness that traumatized me is the following: during the revision of ‘her’ paper she told me in an unusual moment of frankness that she would have used a certain pharmacological reagent rather than another one just to obtain the answer that she wanted (!!!!!!) And she didn’t phrase it like this at all to the two supervisors of the project! Basically she just took advantage of their lack of knowledge on this specific topic (which is my topic) to ‘target her answer’ (!!! Unbelievable, is this Science???)
- Third example (but I could go on forever): once she also traumatized me by saying about one common friend: ‘Of course I want his paper to be well-published, because there is my name on it’ O-MY-GOD.
posted
14-Jul-16, 14:47
edited about 16 seconds later
by enzyme
Avatar for enzyme
posted about 3 years ago
- Cherry on the top: she is even more sneaky because beyond all this she constantly plays the part of the ‘innocent victim’ IN EVERY SITUATION. She is extremely diplomatic. Observing her behavior along these 2 years she made me realize that you can do science not only by your curiosity/questions/study/thinking & hard work, but also by just being diplomatic! That’s pretty amazing, I’ve to admit that she definitely has this ‘skill’! Probably the only skill she has, indeed in my lab we are all aware that she is totally lacking of any personal thinking/judgment, she basically just repeats what she heard from someone else, thus pretending to think. She carries out passively like a technician (note: I don’t want to offend technicians by comparing her to them) whatever her collaborators/colleagues/my PI tell her to do. Just to give you an idea of her intellectual involvement, once another PhD student of my lab who is a friend of mine told me that she was present at this unbelievable scene: the PI-collaborator of this sneaky student asked her (after 2 years since ‘her’ project had started) which was the biological question of ‘her’ project and she could not answer (!)…basically she didn’t even know why she was doing what she was doing!

I don’t know how to deal with this person, I mean I try to avoid her as much as possible, but the truth is that we live in the same square meter and we need to share information/reagents for work reasons. So I'm not reacting to her mobbing activities and sly behavior and just ‘accepting’ it, only focusing on Science. In addition to all this, she also did an expt based on some of my findings so she will have to credit me and this represents one additional reason to try hard to ‘stay professional’.

Did you ever have to deal with a sly and mean colleague?
Any advice are very welcome. Feeling already better after writing.
Thank you,
E.
posted
14-Jul-16, 15:28
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
Hopefully she is on this forum, reading this, and will take a hint! :D

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