How to Deal with an Office Troll

Channing Tatum
Screen Junkies

Even the best work buddies can get on your nerves from time to time -but eventually you’ll learn to love them once again. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who never get an ounce of your love- and if we’re being honest, they neither ever give theirs. They’re awful, soul-sucking co-workers who most likely don’t go home to a regular house or apartment at the end of the day; instead, you’re likely to find them holed up under the scuzziest, dankest bridge in town. 

They’re the trolls who conspire to make you miserable, and to ensure that you never get to the other side of the career-success bridge. Chances are you’ve had a fantasy or two about chucking them off that ugly bridge, to drown and never be seen again -but then you come back to reality and realize that in order to keep the job that keeps you supplied with food and lattes, you have to get along with that awful office troll. Or do you?

It might be extremely difficult, but here are some ways to handle the back-stabbing, gossiping, know-it-all behavior of that office troll. 

1. Spread some nasty rumours


Rumors and subterfuge are probably part of your office troll’s day-to-day existence. It’s what keeps them going, and how they manage to win one over on you time after time. At one point you might have thought that staying above that fray was the way to stay classy -but then again, maybe not. When you’re dealing with someone as awful as an office troll, you may have to start trying to beat him at his own game. 

For example, tell one of the other gossipy good-for-nothings in the office a rumor about the office troll, such as a bad habit he has, a person he slept with and so on. Keep it light so as not to give it away that you’re on a mission to ruin the troll’s life, act like you accidentally let the rumor slip. Then watch how quickly that nasty rumor spreads around the workplace.

2. Practise clandestine sabotage

You work together, so there are probably ways upon which you and the troll rely on one another. Maybe you’re responsible for doing one part of a job and the troll another. Maybe you know the troll’s job so intimately that you know where he stores his files and correspondence. If you’re really out to mess with that office troll, in a word, fu*k his sh*t up. Sabotage that report she’s been working on by peppering it with misspellings. Leave him with work that requires him to completely redo your part. Send an email from her address, misrepresenting something that won’t do the company too much harm but will make the troll look really stupid. When you’re committed to all-out war, you have to get down and dirty, so don’t feel too bad about it all.

3. Form other alliances

that awkward moment

Sometimes, simply knowing that other people are suffering from the same things -and hating that office troll just as much as you do- can help you to regain some of your sanity. Now’s not the time to pretend that you’re the bigger person and that you won’t stoop to talking behind someone’s back. Look around and take note of who else the troll has set her sights on, and then make friends with that person. It might put you in alliance with a person who you never imagined you’d be friends with -but when it comes to handling this office troll and keeping your wits about you, it’s well worth the effort.

Once you’ve formed that alliance, look for ways to fu*k the troll’s sh*t up together. With two heads on the case, you might be able to come up with even more elaborate plans of subterfuge or sabotage. Whether it’s as simple as creating a voodoo doll of the person, or plotting an elaborate plan in which you make the troll look terrible in front of the boss, two heads are usually better than one. 

What’s more, having a shoulder to cry on when the troll is once again making your life a living hell can give you some coping skills too.

4. Tell them how you feel – anonymously

If you’re not ready to tell the troll how much you hate him, then you may get some satisfaction out of sharing your feelings in a more oblique way. A nasty hand-written note is one way to go about it -or you could get really creepy and paste together letters cut from a magazine, telling the person what they need to do in order to not have terrible things rain down upon them. That, however, may cross some lines that could end up in police detention and questioning. 

Another way to go about it is to use an anonymous email service to send an email saying exactly what you think of that person. Sites such as JustLeak let you send an anonymous email to whoever you want, without the fear of having that office troll -who in her terrible wisdom probably knows how to track Internet IP addresses- track you down. 

With that type of freedom, you’ll be able to tell that stupid office troll exactly what you think of her, in every gory detail. If you’re lucky, you’ll be nearby when she first opens her email in the morning, so that you can get the satisfaction of seeing her look of horror when she reads what someone really thinks of her. She might have a good idea that it’s you, but she won’t be able to say for sure -and that could give you even more joy.

5. Declare all-out war

Channing TatumScreen Junkies

Sometimes, the behavior of that office troll is so egregious, so terrible, that it no longer becomes worth trying to preserve your job. Vengeance is yours, and you need to see it manifest sooner rather than later. This is a bad spot to be in, but you can console yourself by knowing that things won’t be so bad when you no longer have to see that person’s face every day. The time has come, then, to abandon all pretense and to declare all-out war. Say it to the troll in person, tell others in the office, or find other ways to make one declaration public: You and the troll are mortal enemies, and you don’t care who knows it. 

Since co-workers are supposed to be adult enough to endure one another’s quirks and still get work done, you’ll need to declare your hatred with the knowledge that you could get fired at any moment. But then again, your ability to say how much you despise the troll could free up others to do the same. In the best-case scenario, you’ll embolden others in the office to say what they really feel also, encouraging the troll to run away to the bridge from whence he or she came.

See also: How to Deal With Sexism in the Workplace

You can’t be expected to be best friends with everyone at work -but at the same time, most people won’t try to make your life hell either. When you encounter the latter and you’ve finally had enough, don’t feel bad about dropping the troll from the bridge and moving on.