Don’t Tell Me Calling Me A Bitch Is Joking

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a subordinate’s rude behavior:

One of my (24f) colleagues at work (25m) is being very unfriendly at work and it’s starting to get to me but I don’t know whether it counts as bullying or not. Some of the things he does:

1) Ignores me, pulls faces and moves away from me when I speak to him.

1) Ignores me, pulls faces and moves away from me when I speak to him.

2) Calls me a b**ch and continues to even after multiple requests from me for him to stop. He tries to pass it off in a joking way.

3) Makes up lies and/or twists the truth to make me look bad. For example, he told everyone I put a special lock on the computer so that only I can use it because I don’t want anyone to use it – the computer is broken and not even I can log onto it. He knows this – I’ve told everyone multiple times the computer is broken and I’m trying to get it fixed.

4) He has told my boss he doesn’t want to work with me but has given no good excuse as to why.

I’ve had enough. I don’t want to work with him either due to the reasons above. I feel like my boss isn’t taking me seriously – though I haven’t told him that my colleague calls me a b**ch.

I feel like he is doing this because I got the job I have now. We both applied but I got it and now I’m technically his boss.

I don’t want to quit as I need the money and job security especially during this pandemic, but I don’t want to work here while he is treating me like this. I have started taking a record of all the things he says/does but I have no concrete proof. I also would like to know if I’m just overreacting or not.

Signed I’m His Boss

Dear I’m His Boss: from what you describe neither your boss nor your male subordinate takes you seriously. His making faces and turns away from you and his so-called joking calling you bitch is demeaning and mocking. His bad-mouthing you saying you are locking your computer while it is broken, twisting the truth and telling your boss he doesn’t want to work with you should be enough for your boss to send him to another department or to suspend him until he commits to communicate to you and about you with respect.

You have options, don’t you? Options that can be concurrent or begun gradually.

  1. As his boss you can take action. You apparently have allowed this man’s disrespect to go on too long. You are wise to make a record of all the things he says/does. Note when, where, and what and who might witness them. Don’t allow the feeling you have no concrete proof. You heard and witnessed his behavior. His behavior is bullying and you are just overreacting. Now call him to your office. If you have an assistant have that person meet with you. Both orally and in writing state what you find disrespectful. Firmly tell him it has gone on too long. It must change immediately. State you are beginning disciplinary measures in this formal meeting and written charge against him. If you feel uncertain of your authority, which you should not, then first meet with your boss to inform him you are beginning this disciplinary process. Ask your boss to okay this by initialing his approval.
  2. Request of your boss an investigation of this individual’s behavior. Apparently talking with your boss was not forceful enough. Probably the next step is to make that a written request. If your boss continues to minimize your complaint, you can suggest that the matter be brought to Human Resources or whatever is the department to investigate such matters. 
  3. Seek mediation.  If this is a process encouraged and will be overseen by someone officially designated, it might be worthy of trial. But from what you describe, probably not in a boss-bossed situation.
  4. Enlist a committee of those you manage to spell out procedures that they determine can make your work group productive and a harmonious place of work. Sometimes a do and don’t list that is made by a work group educates and establishes expectations. This too is best cleared with your superior to learn if it as an approach in keeping with your organization’s culture and policies.

How you handle this rudeness should not be permitted to add to the stress of this time. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By this, I mean the purpose and process of a workplace is to do what individuals can’t do alone. We welcome an update on what you do and what results.–William Gorden