This girl at work is driving me crazy. Everything I say is wrong. I don’t even think she knows she is criticizing me. No matter what I say, “in her opinion” the exact opposite is true. I’m not sure how to get her to stop without overreacting.
Let me allay you fears. She knows exactly what she is doing. I assume we are talking about subjective topics, not your insistence on using a metal knife to extract your bagel from the toaster. Right. She’s doing it on purpose. This is not to say there aren’t women who genuinely don’t know when they are making hurtful comments or don’t realize when criticism has become excessive. It’s just that most of the time, they are called “men.” (Before I get bombarded with emails accusing me of promoting gender stereotypes, I just want to say that I can’t believe that many people actually read this blog that I could provoke a bombardment.)
So now we’ve established, by virtue of my completely unsubstantiated judgment, that she is lobbing these petty critiques at you avec malice. The most common reason women do this to other women is because of some real or imagined power-struggle. Here’s a simple severity test: One disagreement means she respects and trusts you enough to be honest. Two disagreements means the two of you will probably not be in each others’ weddings. Three disagreements means that she has made it her mission in life to slowly erode your self-esteem at every possible opportunity.
Your options are limited, especially since this is occurring at work and dueling is not and never was an acceptable mitigation tool for women. The important thing to remember is that you were chosen due to your perceived weakness. Your best solution is to remedy her erroneous perception by making her appear foolish. You need to master the “Victrola Dog” look. Remember those ads with the dog looking quizzically into the victrola? Of course you don’t because by virtue of your question, you are not retired from a WWII missile factory. Look it up. That’s the look you want to give her the next time she announces that your opinions and feelings are wrong. No comment, just a look that implies she is no longer speaking English. Since humans abhor silence the way nature abhors a vacuum, she will eventually blabber out an explanation of her comment, rendering it impotent. You will emerge the victor and she will sulk away until she finds someone willing to indulge her. The silence and her response may make you feel uncomfortable if you are not a naturally assertive person. You will be tempted to speak, laugh, or, even worse, assist her. Don’t give her the satisfaction. If you must change your expression, lest you fear your face will freeze that way, smile sympathetically and raise your eyebrows to indicate you deem the conversation complete.
How do I clean plastic cups that have been sitting around with milk in them?
You don’t. Throw them away. The hard plastic may be salvageable, but the soft rubbery parts (immature laugh) will always smell odd and be susceptible to mold (second immature laugh). I’m not an advocate of throwing things away, but given the choice between scrubbing “yogurt” out of every nook of a sippy cup and shelling out $2 for another, I’m willing to compromise my value system.