Q. One of my colleagues, who, unfortunately, I closely work with daily, has regular mood swings. One day she is cheerful and approachable, the next she is hostile and rude. This makes working with her very difficult, besides undermining my work input. I feel I should talk to her before I approach HR with my dilemma, but I don’t know how to broach the subject with her just in case she blows off. Help me out.
In the world of work, we encounter different characters, some friendly, others who are seemingly always on edge. As long as you are alive to this fact, then it will be easy to manage the interactions that you have at the workplace.
Generally, people react in different ways to the circumstances they find themselves in depending on their perceptions about life.
Your colleague might be dealing with personal matters which are unbearable and might therefore require assistance to help her manage them. Escalating to HR might make the situation worse since she might view it as if you are exposing her.
She could also see this as insensitive on your part. Even the worst individuals have their good moments, when they are approachable I suggest that you look for such a moment and gently seek to find out what is bothering her.
Even if she does not open up, at least you will have communicated that you are aware that she is struggling with certain issues and that you care. You could also approach a colleague whom she gets along with and discuss your concerns with a view to getting help for her.
Another solution is to keep your relationship strictly professional and only talk to her when it is absolutely necessary.
That said, has it occurred to you that you might be displaying behaviour that makes her hostile towards you? Think about it.
Also, could you have complained about her unbecoming behaviour to colleagues and this information got to her?
I am sure she has some positive attributes, choose to focus on these as you figure out how to deal with her. It would be worthwhile also to find out what makes her happy.
Do you remember important dates like her birthday? Even simply appreciating her once in a while will go a long way to mend your work relationship.
If all interventions fail, you can consider approaching HR, but only if her behaviour is adversely affecting your performance or emotional well-being at work.