Workplace Coworker issue - caught in the middle


Jul 10, 2008
I work in a large facility, but am in a fairly small office area with about 10 other people. The office environment is great, for the most part. Almost everyone here is a long-term (10+ years) employee, and we all get along pretty well. Lately, however, I have been having issues and could use some suggestions on how to deal with this.

About 2 years ago we hired a new receptionist, and the previous receptionist was pushed into retirement. It was actually a very positive move as the previous receptionist was well past retirement age, refused to learn any new skills, and was often rude to the public. However, she had a "grandmotherly" quality, and most people on the office staff liked her. One of the other office employees in particular (I will call her Mavis) were extremely upset at her departure, and felt it was horrible & unfair, and that our business manager was being "mean" to her.

We hired the new receptionist, and already Mavis disliked her, for taking the previous receptionist's job. The new receptionist is friendly and very skilled, and good at her job. She and I get along extremely well, and she works well with pretty much everyone on staff... except Mavis.

Mavis dislikes her, and frequently complains about her to me.

Background on Mavis: We have set work hours, but she is always 30-45 minutes late - every single day, for over 10 years. She gets in trouble about this constantly, but instead of attempting to improve her tardiness, she says the business manager is "picking on her" and "has it in for her." When she is here in the office, she is either on personal calls, texting, or doing projects for her daughter's cheerleading squad. Because of this and the fact that she is late each day, she is constantly falling behind on her work, and the rest of the office staff (myself included) have to take on some of her work to help her get caught up. She complains that she is "overwhelmed" and "cannot get all her work done" because she has too much to do, but then every time I pass her office she is on a 1+ hour long personal call.

Mavis is currently upset because the new receptionist asked her for something in front of the business manager. Mavis feels this new receptionist is now "out to get her" and "trying to get her in trouble." She is coming to ME with these complaints.

I am very frustrated at being caught in the middle of this, because while I like both of these coworkers, I do feel that Mavis does not take responsibility for her actions, and instead of trying to correct her work problems, blames everyone else. It is also extremely bad for office morale. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, and I'd rather not have anyone angry with me.

One other problem: Mavis' mother also works in the office, as our business manager's secretary.

Opinions? Maybe I just needed to vent!


Sep 6, 2006
I don't have any useful advice but I feel your pain!

I don't want to be the party pooper but I feel like there's a time for work and time for play, if you're doing extracurricular stuff at work..not to judge..same time how can you say you don't have time to get projects or work done or that you're overwhelmed and not do the work when you have time to be on the phone for a hour?!

It just sucks because while M may make a great friend, clearly she's not the best worker. I don't think the receptionist should have to go out of her way to reassure M but IMHO if the receptionist doesn't mind--to do so, that would be the best way.

I'm sorry you're stuck in the middle!


Oh. Gee.
Feb 12, 2006
I think I would tell Mavis, "look I like both of you. but you really need to work this out with (new receptionist) as it is between you two before things get ugly. right now you only have suspicions about her. talk it out. we all have to work together so its more important that we all get along - we don't all have to be best friends but at least be part of the solution."

then I would go beat my head against a wall.


Jan 20, 2012
Maybe something like: "You'll figure something out." Then smile, then head down, back to work.


couch potato-ing
Jun 11, 2007
i would tell mavis that i have nothing against the new girl. she's competent at what she does. it's no point to make another person's life miserable just b/c you have a problem with how she got here. everyone needs a job so they can live...
it's work...not a real housewives show. gggggggggg