Yesterday my assistant told me that a co-worker, who I'll call Myrtle, told her to fuck off. For no apparent reason and completely unprovoked, just "fuck off".
I'm terribly biased, of course. My assistant is a little abrasive and has a tendency to exaggerate the way others treat her; when she's not exaggerating about their behaviour, she's being confrontational and aggressive in her own behaviour. So, I was a little skeptical about the exchange as it was being described to me.
So I'm a good manager (if immodest) and I try to be fair, so I follow up with Myrtle to get her side of things. As soon as she enters my office she's very sheepish. I tell her I want to talk about the exchange from yesterday and she turns a very deep shade of red.
Okay, maybe there wasn't any exaggeration. Hmmm. She admits to using the disrespectful language, and knows that she behaved inappropriately. She's deeply sorry, embarrassed to be called out for her behaviour and ashamed that she let my assistant's attitude affect her so much. It's a little surprising to me; this woman is very even-tempered, very sweet, and generally quite pleasant to be around. She hardly seems the sort to use naughty language, let alone to be so rude to a co-worker (even if said co-worker makes it easy to be rude).
It turns out, my assistant seems to have a large chip on her shoulder; she's insecure about her place and seems to spend quite a bit of time marking her proverbial territory. I have seen a small display of this, but hadn't realized it was as common as it apparently is. She's a little hard to get along with, especially once any sort of disagreement happens.
The truth is, while I'll have to give a conduct warning to Myrtle, I often want to tell my assistant to fuck off too.