Coworker Made An Insulting Remark About My Weight

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about fat talk:

A coworker told me she does not want to work fast because she might get fat like me!

Signed, Feeling Humiliated

DearĀ Feeling Humiliated:

The remark your coworker made was certainly mean and rude. It sounds like the rudeness you hear from a 13 year old girl when she’s in a fight with another 13 year old! Unfortunately, when people are immature in their thinking or when they are just angry and wanting to hurt people, the most obvious thing to say is something personal, in this case about your weight. She probably knew it was a jab that would get to you more than almost anything else.

I doubt that she would just walk up and say something like that without any reason, so probably someone said something to her about not working fast enough or maybe they compared her work with yours and she said the first mean thing she could think of. You might have said something to her without meaning to sound critical, but she took it that way and hit back with her words. I would imagine that the two of you don’t get along very well anyway; or maybe she doesn’t get along with many people, including you.

Now, the issue is, what are you going to do about it? One way to consider it is to ask yourself, “Is this like her usual behavior to me?” If she has said such things before and you have asked her not to do it, you will probably need to ask your supervisor to help you find a way to stop the coworker’s rudeness. Rudeness like that at work is distracting and harms the entire workplace.It would be helpful if the supervisor told all employees, in a meeting or some other way, that even in times of disagreement, it’s not acceptable to make personally insulting and hurtful remarks. You may not be able to ask the supervisor for that kind of discussion with employees, but maybe you can at least mention the idea and let him or her know that you will do your part.If your coworker is usually at least civil to you, then maybe you will decide to let the insult pass this one time. If it happens again you should say something to her about it. For example, “Look, Beth, you can be angry with me, but please don’t make personal remarks to try to make me feel bad. It’s not right to do that.” Anyone hearing you would agree with the truth of those remarks and would not support your coworker as much as they might otherwise. It sounds as though things are a bit out of control in your workplace if there are angry comments like that very often. I hope you will do what you can to support positive conversations and redirect negative conversations. Doing that will give you a leadership role that your negative coworker will never have if she doesn’t change her ways. Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.