Coworker Sits And Stares

Question:

I work in an office where I am the only female. I feel completely comfortable with everyone except for one of my coworkers.

My office is in the front of the building in an open area. His office is in the back of the building in a private room. He is constantly coming up to the front of the building, and will sit at another coworkers desk until either that coworker comes back or I leave.

The other desk is behind mine, and it is very frustrating to have someone behind me staring while I am working.

It is so strange, he will continue to do this throughout the day, sometimes it may even be hours at a time. We won’t even be engaging in conversation.

I feel like my personal privacy is being invaded and like I’m almost harassed. I don’t know how to handle this situation. Any advice would be great. Thanks

Signed,

Creeped Out


Answer:

Dear Creeped Out:

I’m hesitant to make the assumption that the coworker is completely bizarre, because there may be some legitimate reason for his actions. But, it certainly does sound strange. And, if there is no reason at all for his behavior, you should get it stopped.

In the meantime, be cautious around this coworker. Especially be aware of his car in case you see it other times. Be civil but not friendly. Don’t go to his work area if you can avoid it.

Consider these ideas:

1. There is a chance he has been told to sit there when the other employee leaves, to watch the phone or whatever. Have you asked that person about it, since the coworker camps out there? I would think the other employee would not want someone sitting at his desk in that way.

Have you asked the coworker what he is doing and told him he’s making you uncomfortable? You could just say, “Dan, what are you doing sitting there like that? It’s really unnerving and I don’t like it. Could you sit somewhere else while I’m trying to work?” 2. If you don’t want to talk to the employee, talk to your supervisor and tell him what you wrote to us. After all, if the employee is at that desk he’s not working. So, the supervisor may not like the idea anyway. Tell him the amount of time the employee spends there and how many days a week he does it.

Then, tell your supervisor that the coworker’s behavior is bizarre enough that it is making you a bit fearful of him. (If there is no reason for the coworker to be there, you would be correct to be fearful of his strange behavior.)

Ask your supervisor if he could help you by finding out what the coworker is doing, then telling him to leave you alone and not sit behind you in that way.

3. I don’t know what your work is about, but consider getting up and leaving every time he comes to your area. Go to your supervisor and let him know that you feel like you’re being stalked at work.

Tell him that the employee’s behavior is bizarre enough to make you worry about many aspects of work–working late, walking to the parking lot, going to the area where this person has an office, etc. Make it clear that you need his help to make the problem stop. Hopefully between you asking the employee about it directly and your supervisor talking to him or to his supervisor, that will take care of it.

If not, talk to HR or to someone higher about it immediately. Best wishes 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.