My Grapes Are Sweet, But Theirs Are Sour

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’ve worked in a real-estate office in a converted craftsman-style home
for eight years, the second longest employee. When a manager retired
who had been occupying one of the front rooms, I asked the owner if I
could have it. He said yes and I have spent $600 refurnishing it at my
own expense. Now my colleagues are giving me the cold shoulder,
even though they could have asked for the room also. What really fries
me is that the person who has been here longer than me insists she
should have had rights to it by seniority. But when I asked her if she
wanted it, which I did before I talked to the owner, she said No. Now
she’s saying I never asked her, and gossiping with the other gals and
saying I should pay more for the office. How do I deal with their envy?

My Grapes Are Sweet, But Theirs Are Sour

Dear Grapes:

Office politics is a particularly virulent form of bad weather. Storms
that should pass in a day or two can linger for a long time, and embed
themselves in attitudes that can affect group performance and morale.
In this case you are unlikely to convince her that you did ask first,
because she’s taken a position and would lose face if she backed away
from it. So use the owner as your mouthpiece.

Have the boss call a meeting and say simply, There’s bad blood and
bad talk going around that I want to quell. [your name] asked me for
the space before she moved into it and has furnished it at her own
expense. Next time there’s a room opening, we can have a group
meeting to discuss it. But for now, that’s her room, so everything
please stop fussing over it and get back to doing what we’re here to
do: make money. With good luck that ends it. With bad, you’ll have to
live through the shifting allegiances until someone else tips the group
neuroses in a different direction. This will pass, but it won’t be any fun
until it does.