Of toxic people you can’t avoid

Friends

We all have toxic colleagues with complicated characters that make them difficult to work with.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Think of that receptionist or secretary who makes it seem as if it is their life’s purpose to ensure that you don’t get to see their boss.
  • What about that utterly unmotivated, bored and lethargic civil servant you found when you visited that government office?

Have you ever come across people who hold you hostage with their standoffish behaviour? I am talking about people who make you want to strangle them on the spot, but since you need their help to get somewhere or get things done, you hold your irritation in check and bite your tongue, real hard, lest you say something that will make them even more less inclined to help you.

To paint a clearer picture, think of that receptionist or secretary who makes it seem as if it is their life’s purpose to ensure that you don’t get to see their boss. Their default answer is always that the boss is not in. They will start by pointedly sizing you up from top to bottom and deeming you unworthy of the boss’s attention.

Woe unto you if you don’t have an appointment, and even if you do, they will discourage you by assuring you that their boss is so busy, there is a likelihood that you will not get to see him or her. And the worst thing you can do, even having waited for hours, is to ask how much longer you are expected to wait. The look you will get can instantly wither a plant.

What about that utterly unmotivated, bored and lethargic civil servant you found when you visited that government office in search of important documents? You started by saying hello, greeting that was pointedly ignored, and giving you a look that said you were bothering her, she said brusquely, “Sema…”

From there, things went downhill and you were tossed from office to office. By the time you returned where you started to get the last signature, the bored civil servant had locked up and gone for lunch, lunch that took three hours.

When you saw her finally making her way back to her office, you and the other frustrated Kenyans who had been grumbling about the poor service immediately go quiet. You all know you cannot afford to complain loudly lest you are denied that final signature, so you humble yourself and still the murderous rage inside you and patiently wait as the civil servant shuffles to the office, seemingly oblivious to the hostility in the air.

What of that watchman who abuses his power with impunity? He is rude, indifferent, and treats you with suspicion right from the beginning, barking orders that make you feel like an errant child, embarrassing you in the process. “Wapi ID?!” “Nini iko kwa bag?!” “Uko na appointment?!”

You are tempted to give him a piece of your mind, to be defiant, but you know that should you assert yourself, you will never set foot into that building as long as he’s the one manning the entrance. And so you allow yourself to be disrespected and ingratiate yourself with him, referring to him as ‘mkubwa’ and ‘boss’. Anything to get into the building, when in reality, what you want to do is wrap your hands around his neck and throttle him.

What about that fellow passenger in the matatu seated by the window? The one that controls the amount of air that gets into the stuffy interior and looks at you with ‘attitude’ when you kindly ask him to increase the crack on the window because you’re about to succumb to the stale stuffy air in the vehicle?

And how can I forget about the bossy neighbour in the estate WhatsApp group who feels the need to dictate the outcome of every discussion that takes place? The self-appointed chairman who goes on the defensive when anyone dares to question his ideas.

I can’t finish without singling out the toxic colleagues with complicated characters that make them difficult to work with. They are often moody and detached, and while they don’t say no, they also don’t say yes. Unfortunately, you have to put up with them because your work is incomplete without their contribution.

Did I just describe you? The year is not too far gone to commit to change. 

The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com

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