Oh. The coworker you hate might actually remind you of your annoying sibling.

We all have that one colleague that we just can’t stand.

Let’s call her Melissa.

You can feel your energy shift as soon as Melissa enters the room. You immediately feel a bit more tense, a bit more on edge.

Your teeth are clenched. Your eyes are rolling. You can’t help but send snarky little messages about Melissa to your workmates.

To other people, Melissa might seem fine. Like a perfectly reasonable colleague with a few little quirks.

But your hatred of Melissa runs deep.

When asked, you can’t exactly pinpoint what it is about Melissa that makes you want to lock her in the stationery cupboard or throw her dairy-free, lactose-free and yoghurt-free yoghurt out the window.

It might be her loud mid-morning sneezes.

Maybe it’s the way she noisily eats a tuna and lettuce salad at her desk every day.

Perhaps it’s the way she walks around the office like she owns the place when she can’t complete even the simplest of tasks.

All you know for sure is that Melissa is the devil in a Cue skirt suit and you can’t wait for the day she hands in her resignation.

But there could be much more to your deep hatred of Melissa – and it all has to do with your family.

According to Maria Baratta, a New York-based clinician, there’s a deep-seated psychological reason you hate Melissa.

Baratta says when most people complain about their colleagues, it’s actually because they remind them of their family members.

“It’s interesting to look at the people in your workplace and try to figure out who the characters from your family of origin might be in your coworkers,” she writes in Psychology Today.

“For example, the coworker who eats your lunch or constantly borrows your pen and never returns it might be reminiscent of your brother or the bossy coworker who corrects everything you say might be your mum or the grumpy manager might be your dad.”


Baratta says standing back and thinking about why a certain colleague’s behaviour triggers you, will help you understand why you react so intensely to them.

Does Melissa actually remind you of your overbearing older sister? Does your micromanaging boss remind you of your mother? Could your unreliable co-worker be reminding you of your slacker younger brother?

“It sets the stage for having a more empathetic understanding of your own behavior and helps work toward tempering your reaction,” writes Baratta.

So yeah, maybe Melissa isn’t that bad after all. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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