Insulting Remark By Coworker

Question:

At work today my coworker trained me on a job. It was diffult so I asked him to show me his technique again. He became frustrated and when he needed to sit in my chair he said, “MOVE YOUR ASS!” I feel very belittled by this, and he said that to me in front of other co-workers!!!!

Signed,

Angry and Embarassed


Answer:

Dear Angry and Embarassed:

It certainly was rude of your coworker to make a statement like that! How you deal with it is based on several issues.

1. Your general relationship with the coworker. If he has said that kind of thing before, I think you should write a memo to your supervisor and say that you were embarrassed and offended by those remarks. Tell the supervisor that you do not want to be subjected to that kind of rudeness again and that you want to talk to the supervisor about it.

If you have had a good relationship previously and he has never talked like this to you before, you may want to either talk to your coworker about it, or just let it go this one time.

2. How you responded at the time of the remark. If you told him to stop talking to you that way, right at the time it happened, you have hopefully made your point and it won’t happen again. If you didn’t say anything at the time, and things have calmed down since then, you may want to give the coworker one more chance.

3. How much training you will need to get from this employee in the future. If you are done being trained, you may never need to deal with the coworker in this way again. If you will be dealing with the employee in the future, I think you might want to tell you supervisor about what happened and say that if you have to be trained by the employee you want the supervisor to tell him to treat you courteously, or the supervisor could have someone else train you.

4. The general spirit of the team and the workplace. If you have friends at work, they probably resented the remark being made to you as well. If the workplace is full of rudeness of that nature, they might not have thought much of it. But, if you think this is indicative of attitudes toward you or toward women, you should talk to the supervisor and ask for your supervisor’s support to eliminate that kind of rude comment in the workplace.

Another issue is what kind of style and personality you have. If you would rather not draw attention to yourself, you may want to let this one situation go, but be very aware in the future and immediately complain if it happens again. If you are more assertive, you may want to confront this one, to avoid having it happen again.

So, you see, there is no one easy answer! If it was me and someone who was not my friend said that in an obviously hostile way, I would say, “Hey! That was completely uncalled for and inappropriate. Don’t ever say something like that to me again.” Or, if I wanted to sound nicer, I might say, “Look, I am just asking for your help. Please don’t talk that way to me.”

Then, based on the employee’s remarks I would decide whether to go to a supervisor or not.

If I didn’t say anything at the time, I would likely wait to see what happens next, unless the situation was really, really bad, for example, if the employee yelled loudly or pushed you out of the chair or something like that.

If you have a good relationship with your supervisor maybe you can talk to that person more easily than others might be able to do. But, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, that might be another reason to see what happens next.

Consider this as well…according to your comments, the employee was frustrated, and may have been tired and said something he regretted later. Give him the opportunity to make it right by treating you pleasantly the next time. Thank him for his help and give him a chance to improve.

But if his attitude and remarks continue to be negative, you need to talk to a supervisor about it.

Best wishes as you decided what to do about this.

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.