Was My Colleague’s Comment an Insult?

Question: I am a project manager at a small, extremely busy advertising firm. One of our clients has direct communication with the creative director, completely bypassing me. This coworker posted conflicting information about a very large project. I asked him about the scope and due date and he told me to “just sit tight”. To me that is something you say to an anxious 8 year old child and not to a coworker who is just trying to do their job. This person regularly makes off-color comments but this response was directed specifically to me. Thoughts?

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Co-Worker Is Obsessed With Her Dislike of Me!

I’ve worked for my company for about 1 year now. I was promoted 2 months after I started. My old boss is now my colleague as we share the same boss. I was promoted to a trainer position on her shift. Any new employees that comes in, I am responsible for their training and development.

The first day of my new position she came up with the idea that I was trying to take her job. She is known for being extremely rude and unbearable. Plenty of people quit because they couldn’t deal with her behavior. She has loud outbursts on the production floor, she yells at people and cries at the drop of a dime. I’ve always been cordial to her and tried to help her as much as possible.

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How Can I Feel More Credible and Accepted At Work?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about feeling pushed out at work. 

I work with a boss who doesn’t put boundaries in place for us. He also never holds meetings.  As a result, colleagues often wade into work that I am doing. This frustrates me.

Additionally, boss doesn’t correct meanness when it is evident; i.e. mean comments from colleagues directed towards me. When I bring these things up to boss, boss listens and acts as if he’s going to address it but it just makes things worse for me.

I feel like I am not seen as credible by my colleagues and often contemplate leaving for something new. I feel invisible, unheard and often like I’m the problem-child.

I’ve sought out counseling, but I don’t feel like it’s working. Any other suggestions?

You say you went to counseling, but you don’t feel that the advice you received is working for you. Please don’t give up on counseling or the counselor. It could take a while for you to fully express some of your feelings or to fully share some of your experiences. At some point you may decide another counselor might be more effective for you–but unless there is an strong need to change counselors, stick with this one for a while longer.

The best counselors focus on helping you find most of your solutions. But, when they make suggestions, the advice often needs to be adjusted, just as medical prescriptions often are adjusted, based on results. Tell your counselor what is and isn’t working and what results you have seen, and perhaps that will lead to some different perceptions by both you and the counselor.

2. Even if you have done so already, do some problem analysis about your situation. Take it apart and see if from various perspectives. If you can identify a time when things were good at work and when you felt positive about your relationships there, think about when that was, what was happening on a daily basis and what is the same or has changed.

•Ask yourself if you can reasonably expect another change in the near future. Is it likely your manager will move to another assignment? Are some of your coworkers likely to leave? Is the layout of the office going to stay the same or change in some way? Is there going to be a lasting change in some aspect of the work or the way in which you and others must interact to get it done? Thinking about that will let you make a better decision about your future plans.

•Consider if any of your coworkers are congenial—or do all of them treat you in a way you find to be hurtful or negative. Ask yourself if you are the only one to whom they make the mean comments you mentioned or do some others get treated in the same way. If several of you are having the same experiences, perhaps you can connect with each other and focus on supporting each other as well as on making your combined voices heard.

•You didn’t say how many coworkers you have or if there are other offices in addition to yours. Perhaps you can establish a supportive relationship with an effective employee in another area of the work.

•Make a list of a few of the mean or hurtful things coworkers have said to you in the last two weeks, so you can share specifics with your counselor or discuss them specifically with your supervisor. Are the remarks about your work product? Are they truthful critiques or lies? Are the remarks about your appearance? About your ethnicity or gender? About something in your personal life? About something you’ve said related to work or about something you’ve said regarding away-from work issues? Are they said in a spontaneous way as things happen or do one or more employees seem to purposely come to your work area to attack you verbally?

•Consider how you have responded when something hurtful has been said. Have you countered with your reasons for the actions they were criticizing? Have you ever told anyone that their remarks make you feel unhappy or stressful?

•On the other hand, do you often have something positive to say to others? Could you cite daily examples of a smiling expression, an offer to help or a supportive comment? Is it possible others see you as unfriendly or are they being mean to you in spite of your actions?

•How do you think your colleagues feel about themselves and others? Is everyone unhappy about the situation there or does it seem most of them feel positive and only you feel so badly?

All of those thoughts are ways to help you be able to clearly and concisely describe your workplace and the behaviors by coworkers that are having an effect on your attitudes and feelings.

3. You mentioned that colleagues wade into work that you are doing. Consider why that is happening. Most computer-based work is clearly the responsibility of one person. Other work can be marked in some way to let others know where you stopped and what else needs to be done. I don’t know your work situation, but it would be odd if an employee voluntarily did much more than what they are supposed to do, just to irritate a co-worker.

So, think through that one and see what you think their logical reason is for doing your work in addition to their own. Perhaps you can determine a way to designate assigned work more effectively. If your boss isn’t concerned about it, perhaps it doesn’t matter who is doing a task as long as it gets done. Find out more and think through whether usurping your work is being done spitefully, helpfully, because it’s been assigned or because there is confusion about who is responsible.

4. You imply that you have talked to the manager about the situation. Your best approach is to put it in writing so there is documentation of what you have tried to accomplish. Be very accurate as you report what was said or what occurred. When possible, use a dialogue approach to state the precise words used by each person and by yourself. Also describe the tone of voice, facial expression or anything else that can add to the description.

•You said your boss listens but just makes things worse for you. Does she make an effort to intervene or do you think she purposely makes things worse for you by encouraging people to continue to treat you badly? It is important to know that, in case you feel you should go to your company’s HR section or a higher manager, if there is one.

•Consider asking your boss to help you in specific ways and also to give you some quick coaching advice. She’s heard what you’ve said is going on. Now, ask her for some specific assistance, rather than just asking for help generally. Then, ask her for specific suggestions for what you ought to do instead of what you are now doing, to bring about improvement.. For example, “I’d like for you to tell Mary to stop laughing with Jan, every time I pass their desks to go to the copy room. I’d also like you to tell those two to stop mimicking me when I’m on the phone. Both of those things are distracting to everyone’s work, including to me. Will you do that? Also, I’d like to know what you want me to do if you’ve talked to them but they do it anyway. What would you suggest?”

•As I mentioned earlier, if you put that in an email and your manager responds in an email, you’ll have clear documentation of your efforts—and, just as importantly, your boss will have something specific to do, rather than just hearing a vague complaint and a request for her to make things right. The reality is the most bosses hate to be involved in workplace conflict. They avoid it when possible and shrug it off or only half-halfheartedly do something, the rest of the time. Often, they think both sides are to blame, but don’t want to say that, so they give out a vague promise but don’t do much more than gently ask both sides to get along better. That reality is why conflict in some workplaces goes on year after year.

5. Look at this from your manager’s perspective. You think she should set boundaries and have regular meetings. But, she knows that most employees complain about meetings, don’t want to attend them and act hostile to managers who call the meetings. I don’t agree with that thinking, but that’s the way it is. So, there is no incentive for your boss to do it. There is especially no incentive if she thinks she will be expected to bring up problems and confront people or the group. Perhaps you can suggest a meeting time and also suggest things to commend or plans for new project to discuss. Taking that leadership role would also offset what seems to you to be your role as a problem employee.

6. Does your boss own the business or lead the entire organization? If not, there are probably other layers above him or her. Is there anyone else in the company with whom you could discuss the situation? HR’s function is to ensure the best use of human resources, so there may be someone there who would provide you with some insights or advice.

7. You say you don’t feel credible and that you feel like you are seen as a problem child. Credibility requires that you are seen as being effective in your overall performance and in your behavior—and your responses to the behaviors of others. About 98% of the time we should be buzzing along without a need for supervisory help or intervention, unless we have a new project that requires extra coaching. There will be situations that are irritating, frustrating and even hurtful, but an effective employee will work through those and continue to be effective.

8. I’m certainly not advising you to quit your job. However, if you have a marketable skill and think you could find a place where the environment would be more congenial and supportive, that may be your best solution. It would be one way to cut ties with a place that you feel is dragging you down. At the same time, it would give you a chance to make changes in your own behavior or performance, if you think you have made mistakes in your handling of situations in your current workplace. Most importantly, it will be give you a chance to interact with new people and new styles of work and gain the credibility you feel you lack right now.

9. The bottom line is that at a distance I don’t know any of the particulars about your work or your personality, age, tenure, education and communication skills in comparison to those of your colleagues. Those will all have an effect on what you do and how you do it. However, you really have only three options: (1.) Stay there and let the same things keep happening, hoping for a change in the future. (2.) Stay there and purposefully become part of the office in a positive way. Engage more with everyone and demonstrate an undeniably strong level of work and behavior. At the same time, realize that you are being paid for your own work product and your own behavior, not anyone else’s. Just do it and try to shut out the distractions. (3.) Do as Dr. Gorden often suggests, and vote with your feet by leaving and finding a better workplace.

Before you do the last thing, you should do the second thing long enough to see if it can work for you. In addition to your counselor, you have family and friends, maybe former coworkers or others who know you and can give you truthful input. Work at it and see if things change for the better, even if just incrementally. After a few more months you can say you gave it your best. At that point, you can decide whether to move on or stay, but at least you will have done all you can do.

Best wishes to you with all of this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how things are developing and what results you are getting.

Tina Lewis Rowe
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Who Looks Out For Nurses? What Should I Do About the Bullying Culture?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about
the bullying environment of a hospital 


Who–government, attorney, someone–who stands up for nurses? I was bullied, to the point of crying in front of patients. At the nurses station, I could not chart. I had been knocked down and finally could not get back up.  I attempted suicide, but managed to only give them more reason to talk. Now, I’m blackballed. I lost my home, everything in it, my dignity and reputation.  That’s what hurts the most. I was an ICU awesome RN.

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New and Unwelcome

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about identity:

I was hired as a Receptionist/Operations Assistant. The first day my coworker says, “I don’t know why you are here”. And “I’m going to be the Receptionist because I need to get paid more,” etc.

I just looked at her and made an inquiry to the Administrator – what is my position going to be? I was told with my background and experience that I could assist her and help the small staff in office, until they hire more people. 

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Losing my Mind Because of Punjabi Coworkers

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about coworkers speaking their native language and feeling excluded because of only knowing English:

Please clear this up for me before I lose my mind!!! I was hired 3 years ago by a woman who is fluent in both English & Punjabi. She herself is an ” Americanized Punjabi.” Anyway, when I was hired, there were 2 other Punjabi/English speakers, a Spanish/English speaker & myself English speaking only. Never did I feel out of place or left out of conversations. Everyone spoke English & all was good. Until now. This past year, the Spanish/English speakers have left & has been replaced with 2 Punjabi/ English speakers & now ALL day 6 days a week EVERYTHING EVERY WORD EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY IS PUNJABI PUNJABI PUNJABI! read more

Saying My Supervisor Was a Fu&3ing wa€#er

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about badmouthing your supervisor:

So I had a meeting with a condescending supervisor. I got angry and was in the canteen, I wasn’t shouting but I said loudly that the supervisor was a fu&3ing wa€#er. There was another manager around the corner who heard. I’m sure this will go back to my manager. I did apologise to him for the way I behaved. What do I do in this instance? I told my manager I was angry in the canteen. But didn’t tell her what I said.

Signed Apologized

Dear Apologized:

You were smart to apologize for the way you behaved to your manager. You told your manager you were angry but didn’t say exactly what you said in that anger. Now it probably is best that you not spell out the curse words you used to describe how you felt about this supervisor.  So what had you best do now? If I understand what you describe, you didn’t apologize to the supervisor about calling her a fu&3ing wa€#er.

There is no way to mend an insult you made about your supervisor by not apologizing to her and instead by apologizing to your manager. If I misunderstand and you have already apologized to her, you have taken one of the steps I would advise you should take. So I won’t advise you to do that. You ask: What do I do in this instance?

Step 1. Time Out. Taking time to review what you recall provoked your anger is a good place to begin. What probably caused your supervisor to be condescending? Apparently things between you and her have not been harmonious. Right? Why? Is it her or the bigger picture—that the way your work is organized is not clear as to who does what, when and where? And whose fault is that?

Frequently when a supervisor comes across blaming a subordinate when the fault is that job descriptions are not clear and training has not been provided. That is to suggest that Time Out is needed for those involved to get their ducks in a row. If your supervisor blamed you for something done of not done, it is time for straight talk about that. That’s what a coach does when players fail to accomplish a goal. That’s also what smart players do when they goof up or instructions are not clear. Once you have recalled what it was that caused your anger, you are ready to think about what would have prevented that.

Step 2. Next think beyond the one instance. Is the bad feeling you had about your supervisor that provoked your unprintable words about her because of one specific instance? Or is it a pattern of what she assigns, what she assumes, and how she and you communicate? If everything has been running smoothly but this one time, my advice is for you to have a short talk in which you apologize and in which you promise to bite your tongue.

On the other hand, if there is a pattern of things that bug you about her and that she is annoyed about you, it is time of a longer one-on-one in which you two take on the role of investigating what bothers both of you—you two then surface what’s not good and collaboratively see if you can solve that problem.  If you can’t it is time for you to ask for your manager to resolve who does what when and where.

Step 3. Think WEGO. I know such a word as wego likely has no meaning to you. It’s my way of suggesting that you are hired in this particular workplace because those there can’t do it alone. Wego means working together with hands, head, and heart. Wego only happens when those involved talk about how they talk to each other. Talk about talk leads to do and don’t rules about what is said between and about employees and their supervisors. One of the don’t communication rules is: Don’t gossip about others. Another don’t rule is: Don’t cuss out a boss to coworkers or even to yourself (a rule that you broke in this particular instance). One of the do rules is: Do be specific about who’s responsible for and makes assignments. A second do rule is: see the big picture for yourself—what you want to do not just this short time, but in the long run. Talk with your boss about working toward that long range goal of having a good paying job in a great place to work.

The very action of you and your supervisor collaboratively creating a list of do/don’t communication and performance rules pays off in fewer misunderstandings and better working relationships. Please and thank you become more frequent. Cheerleading and celebrating becom more common. Back stabbing and bad mouthing are out of bounds. That’s what I mean when I say, Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

Does any of this make sense for your particular situation—for the now and for the future? Now you want to correct how badmouthing your supervisor might be achieved. That is possible if you have the courage to apologize directly to her and then to become the kind of employee that makes her job and your coworkers’ jobs easier and more pleasant.

In your future, you want a career, not just a job. That will entail getting the kind of t training necessary and planning. As the saying goes Nobody plans to fail, but they fail because they fail to plan. Think about planning–setting forth your goal of working in a job in which you are doing well as well as doing good. If you make that your goal, you would manage your anger—no badmouthing your boss. You would bite your tongue or talk with your supervisor about what you find is not a respectful way she talks with you or you would speak with your manager about that. You would ask for their help in you making small steps toward you long-range goal.

Another specific thing you would do on your own is to tap into the many resources at your fingertips, For example you would ask: Where are the good places to work for? Or even ask, where are the great places to work?

The answer you will get is:
Racepoint Global Awarded PRWeek’s “Best Places to Work” Three Years in a Row

Business Wire via Yahoo Sports17 hours ago The agency is committed to creating a great corporate culture with great perks for the incredible employees who inspire each other every day. “Creating…culture …

·  Great Place to Work Reviews – Great Rated!


… and get insights and jobs at these Great Workplaces. Company salaries, reviews, … WHAT WOULD MAKE WORK GREAT FOR YOU? GO TO … © 2016 Great Place to Work

·  Home – Great Place To Work United States


Showcase your great workplace culture to attract top talent! Apply once to be eligible for ALL our lists. … Great Place to Work®’s High Trust Culture Consulting

·  100 Best Companies to Work For – Fortune


This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list marks Fortune’s 19th year of partnering with Great Place to Work. … for the 100 Best Companies to Work For …

Even try where are the fun places to work? The answer you will get is ·  100 Best Companies to Work For – Fortune


100 Best Companies to Work For. See our methodology and credits. Filter


… struck me as a fun place to work. Wait, … These are listed as 10 seeeeeriously cool workplaces but i kind of disagree they may look nice and have some …


May 07, 2013 · The 10 Companies With The Happiest Young Professionals. … the world that “not only enhance work life balance but help make us a fun place to work, …

Where are the fun places to work? – Yahoo Answers Results

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Fixing Workplace Hostility

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a toxic environment:

I finished university just over a year ago and applied for a finance position at the head office of one of the UKs top firms. One of the managers (my future line manager) came across as a little odd in the interview. I kind of brushed it off as just him putting his foot in it awkwardly. I got offered the job and started a few weeks later.

So, I turned up on my first day and straight away there was hostility from two of my work colleagues (we are a team of 5) and that manager. From receiving the evil glares, to being abrupt with me, to laughing whenever I talk despite the fact my comments are normal, to trying to isolate me, giving me the silent treatment, gas lighting about having favourites, abusive comments just ambiguous enough for me to have nothing solid to complain about, trying to bait and antagonise me, to co-opting other people into the games against me. I have been enduring all this for a year with no improvement in my circumstances.

The position is not a internship, its a regular job. Due to the comments dropped I know that part of the problem is my manager see’s me as a threat (I’m not even interested in his job). And the two colleagues joining in the torture have been their over a decade with no promotion. So I think I kind of upset their ambitions.

I’ve been looking for answer on how to fix this for a while with no luck. The comments all seem to assume I have the problem and usually say I’m an arrogant know it all graduate. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I am friendly, cooperative, willing to learn, a hard worker, respectful to others, and humble myself. How do I get on with these people in a way that won’t send me to an early grave through stress?

After a year of this with no improvement is it time to find a less toxic company to work at? I would really like to stay here if possible as the wages and benefits side of the job are superb. I was also a mature student (not a kid) and have held several jobs before going to university. I have never ever encountered this type of reaction out of people before.

Signed, Not Ready For An Early Grave


Dear Not Ready For An Early Grave:

First, I congratulate you for being hired by one of UK’s top firms. Whatever transpires, you should feel good about that–that this firm saw your credentials meeting their standards for the position for which you applied. I regret that your first year adds up to so much toxicity that you wonder if you should seek work elsewhere.

Yes, life is too short to endure a toxic work environment for long. Can you fix it? Possibly, but in light of the description you provide regarding your manager and two uncooperative coworkers, probably not. Yet, rather than resign, doesn’t it make sense to make a reasonable effort to change that environment? At least it makes sense to continue doing the best you can, until you have another job offer in hand.

Assuming that you want to try to “fix it”, I am suggestion some approaches you might consider. Numbers 1-6 are suggestions you should do on you own, as if you were an investigator of what has transpired from your own perspective this year of employment:

1.      Don’t assume you can fix it. What you describe is an interpersonal and it usually takes two to tangle or to tango. Learning to dance in a new situation might not be you who are making the wrong steps although as you say “all seem to assume I have the problem and usually say I’m an arrogant know it all graduate.” Incidentally you write clearly, but I have not corrected some of your grammar. The mistakes may be hasty, but some I noticed are: a internship should be an, see’s for sees, their instead of there and some missing commas.

2.      Before blaming yourself, manager or coworkers, reflect on what is good about your job in addition to its wages and benefits. What do you do that you like about the job?

3.      Also what do you do well? Can you list projects completed successfully? Such a detailed list is something you will want to have ready if and when you meet with your manager or someone within your firm who might listen to your story and assist you in coping, correcting and/or transferring to another position within the firm.

4.      What about it are problems, other than the two coworkers’ and manager? Has your manager or coworkers criticized what your do or don’t do? How have you responded? Were those complaints justified and/or corrected?

5.      Your descriptions of difficulties are generalizations, rather than specific language they used and non-verbal signals that bother you at a particular time and in reaction to something you did or didn’t do with which they seemed to disapprove. (“evil glares, to being abrupt with me, to laughing whenever I talk despite the fact my comments are normal, to trying to isolate me, giving me the silent treatment, gas lighting about having favourites, abusive comments just ambiguous enough for me to have nothing solid to complain about, trying to bait and antagonise me, to co-opting other people into the games against me). So can you recall and log those occasions and interpret what provoked them?

6.      Have you confronted the coworkers regarding any specific time they expressed displeasure? Or if you did and were not pleased with their response, did you invite them to go with their complaint and with you to your manager? Especially if you thought their criticism was unreasonable or a pattern, would it not be wise to get your manager advice regarding how to do the job as is desired? I don’t know the firm’s protocols for evaluation or for seeking advice of a manager, but have you met with this manager and asked “How well do you see my performance? What do I do well and what needs improvement?  Do you know what going on between my coworkers and me? And what do you recommend might minimize the toxicity?” Should we meet with you about making our work more productive?” What resulted from such a meeting or meetings?

7.       Probably a meeting with your manager is now in order and depending on what you learn will help you determine if there is a way to improve your working relationship. Apparently, your work group doesn’t have regular staff meetings that makes explicit who does what and when? Seeking your manager’s guidance and clarification about how he sees your performance will help you know what to do next. Perhaps this will be a time for you to suggest that such staff meetings would help or at least checking in from day to day with him about assignments.

8.      Request your manager’s help in making your career successful. If you learn you there is hope, develop a plan and schedule a meeting to review progress. If you determine that he thinks you don’t fit, ask about a transfer within your firm. Meanwhile quietly begin your job search while maintaining doing the best you can to cope with your coworkers and to maintain your own performance.

9.      Realize that finding a job fit sometimes is a process of elimination. Soak up all you can from this firm, however toxic. Know that interpersonal relationships sometimes require extraordinary patience and some never are harmonious, but that you can work well even with disagreeable people. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of saying you can’t fix it, but with the help of your manager together you might be able to fix it, and if you can’t you will cope at least until you are transferred or find another job.

William Gorden

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What Can I Do About Remarks About Women Servers By Restaurant Co-Worker?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about how to deal with a rude co-worker who makes negative remarks about women.


I am a 47 year old female server with 30 years of experience, employed for three years at a locally-owned restaurant. I am the only female server. There are two 22 or 23 year old young men who started as busboys at age 16 and have been serving during college breaks for three years, working there six-seven years, on and off. One has joined a union and had been just filling in when needed. The other flunked out of college. They both are now working full time at the restaurant. One of them constantly makes derogatory comments, such as telling the boss him and the other one have been here for longer and should get more tables, they are better servers than me so I should get less tables, comments like “This restaurant needs to go back to male servers only. We don’t get periods.”

Tonight after my day off I asked my coworker how last night was, trying to be conversational. He answered “No Pussy, No Problem.” I said that was completely inappropriate and demanded an apology. He rolled his eyes at me and said it is a common phrase and “this is why you cause problems.” (Meaning women). The other server does not say offensive things but stands by his buddy’s side. Silent treatment and not team playing and such. What is my recourse?

We are not attorneys and do not have in-depth knowledge of employment law but perhaps we can share some thoughts that will help you decide how best to handle your situation. You asked what recourse you have when dealing with a rude, crude and obnoxious young male co-worker—and the other male employee who supports him. It sounds as though the two young guys enjoy ganging up on you–and view you as getting in the way of their boy’s club at work. They want only male servers and aren’t mature enough to learn to work with female employees–and it doesn’t sound as though it will get better on its own, since it’s been going on for several years. Essentially they have grown up working in that restaurant and have been allowed to become offensive employees. They must be able to treat patrons much differently or they would be complained about! So…it’s possible for them to be pleasant, they just don’t want to be, when it comes to women and to you.

One recourse might be reporting the ongoing harassing behavior to a local EEOC office and asking them for assistance. However, if your employer employs less than 15 people, EEOC regulations related to discrimination and harassment do not apply. If 15 or more employees work for your employer in one or more restaurants, your employer should be well aware of his obligation to stop harassing or sexist behavior. In such cases a crucial issue is whether or not the employer had evidence of harassing behavior and whether or not anything was done to stop it.

Another recourse, and probably the one that will be most effective, is to go to the person who has the authority to do something–the owner of the restaurant–and ask him to stop the co-worker from being offensive in his interactions with you and about you. Given the time you have worked there and the experience you have had in the service industry, it seems to me your employer would want to keep you as a satisfied employee and would not want you to be treated so rudely, for any reason. It’s hard enough to do a great job in a demanding environment such as a restaurant, without having the added distraction of back-stabbing, mean-spirited comments and who knows what else. If the coworker is as nasty as he sounds, there is no telling what else he might do or say to create problems for you!

You mention that the problematic coworker talks badly about you to the owner, but you didn’t say how the owner responds to him. Does he laugh, ignore the remarks, mildly tell the employee to stop it, or sharply rebuke him? If the owner doesn’t care how the employee talks—or doesn’t care enough to tell the employee to do his job and stop making remarks about women in general and you specifically, it may be that your only recourse is to find a better place to work—and let the owner realize he lost a great employee. However, your employer may only need to hear about something as grossly inappropriate as, “no p***y, no problem”, to make him take action. (The coworker who said that must really be a jerk!)

The working relationship you have with your employer will make a difference in how you approach him. If you think you know him well enough to be open about how you feel, tell him exactly what was said, how it made you feel, especially added to all the other things the other server has said, and that you would like your boss’s assistance to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Point out that whatever the attitude of the other employees about working with you or women in general, they should not say demeaning things. You may have to push it a bit to get him to take you seriously. For example, you may have to say something like, “Bill, do you see how really awful it is for Kevin to talk to me like that? I want to come to work feeling good and having a smile on my face, but it’s hard to do it when he makes his hatred of women–and of me–so obvious. I can’t make him stop it, only you can, so will you please help me with this???”

If your manager knows all about the things the employee has said and done—and knows you have felt hurt and offended by it—but hasn’t done anything serious to stop it, you will need to decide how much more you are willing to tolerate. Even though it would bother you to make the coworkers happy to have the place to themselves, your employer might finally realize how destructive their behavior has been—and you would be in a workplace where you are treated with respect.

1. If you continue to work there—with or without a change in behavior by the coworker—be an example of how an emotionally mature person behaves in conflict situations:Insulate yourself mentally and emotionally from the bad behavior of others by making other things more important to you than their mosquito-like buzzing: Develop your life away from work, so you can come to work refreshed and ready; be the best you can be at your job and set goals for positive interactions with patrons. (X number of smiles back to you, X times you say thank you and get a positive reaction in return, X times you can have a positive interaction with kitchen staff, etc.); set personal goals for how you will make the best use of your salary, so you can more easily keep the positive end result in mind.

2. Limit your conversation with the coworker to standard social interactions of hello and goodbye and not much more, unless he makes civil conversation first. You do not need to have conversations with him and it sounds as though he will use almost anything as a way to make a snide remark. Don’t give him the chance. You can be civil and courteous without engaging with him about anything except required work-related matters.

3. Do not talk negatively about the problem co-worker or other employees to anyone at work, except your employer. You can bet any negative comment you make gets back to your co-worker, with a spin on it.

4. If you talk to your employer about the matter, don’t just vent—have examples and ask for action.

5. Self-assess honestly, to make sure you are not adding to the conflict out of defensiveness or frustration. If your manager thinks both of you are in the wrong, he will have found his excuse for not intervening. Instead, you want him to see the situation as one-sided, with you making a strong effort to be a trouble-free employee. If that hasn’t always been the case, start now to build that image with him, so you can be more likely to get his full support.

I hope these thoughts have given you a few ideas you can adapt to your situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what you are able to do and how things work out.

Tina Rowe
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What Can I Do About A Co-Worker Who Called Me A Bitch?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being called a bitch:



I go to work today like any other day, gave my manager some chocolate from Belgium and things were fine. A coworker went to lunch, came back, and told my manager her tire looked low. I called my husband because we have a pump and live 5 minutes from the office, while the manager grabbed her phone. I opened the back door said the employee’s name, heard nothing and shut and locked the door thinking she was in the restroom or something.

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