Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: Hollyandra on May 20, 2013, 06:26:23 PM

Title: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Hollyandra on May 20, 2013, 06:26:23 PM
Hi!  ;D

This is my first post on Etiquette Hell after 2 years of lurking around on the site reading all the fabulous posts and stories.

I now finally have a story to tell.

A bit about me: I'm an extremely private person, I don't gossip and I don't share intimate details of my personal life with other people besides my family. When I'm at work I will chat and discuss my plans for the weekend and I'm always warm and friendly to others. I'm also hearing impaired, which makes it hard for me to hear sometimes.

I recently moved to a new city and took a position with a small company, I get on well with everybody there. However, there has been a few situations with a colleague, let's call her Jane, who started a position with the company 3 weeks before me.

Example 1:

My family and I went through a deeply personal issue this year and I was extremely upset because I am very close to them and seeing them hurting made me upset. So I decided to take a couple of days of annual leave and I decided to tell my boss, in private, what was going on. What I didn't know is that Jane was around the door eavesdropping. Later Jane proceeds to announce to the office about my personal situation and publicly gave me advice on how to handle the situation despite not knowing the full story. I politely said "I am not ready to speak about this, it is a private matter". She kept bringing the situation up whenever I was at work, usually via email. I told her one more time that I did not wish to speak about it and ignored the other emails. She would keep emailing me back saying how rude I was being. Two weeks later, when I was alone in the office with Jane and eating on my break. I accidentally hit the bowl a couple of times with my fork and suddenly Jane went off at me swearing and yelling.

Jane: I told you to stop scraping the bowl with your fork!
Me: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you say that.
Jane: Yes you did! *Proceeds to call me a string of swear words*
Me: Jane, I'm hearing impaired I can assure you that I didn't hear you.
Jane: You are so dingdangity rude! I gave you great advice the other week about *family situation* and you rudely brushed me off.
Me: I did not wish to speak about it. It's an extremely delicate matter.


I got up and cleaned my lunch items in the sink.

Was I rude? Is there some way I could have handled the situation better? It has been a month and she still brings up my personal family matter and keeps trying to stick her nose in my personal life. I've spoken to my boss about it, but my boss brushed it off and just said that Jane has my best interests at heart. What should I say when Jane keeps bringing it up?

Example 2:

I work long days and I sometimes like going to the gym or to a dance class after work or sometimes straight home. I prefer going to the gym and dance class by myself, so I can work at my own pace and unwind. Jane loves the gym and recently she asked me to go to the gym with her one day and I said yes because I thought it wouldn't hurt. We were on the treadmill and she started yelling 'encouraging' things at me, such as "come on grandma" and "move it fatty!" I didn't enjoy it at all and she recently been pushing me into going to the gym every day and signing me up for personal training programs without my consent and if I don't do it she calls me a rude ingrate.

I'm just wondering if there would be a better way to approach Jane in regards to this? I just want her to know that I prefer going to the gym by myself.

Any advice is welcome.

Holly  :D

 
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: QueenfaninCA on May 20, 2013, 06:29:09 PM
You need to talk to HR and mention "hostile work environment".
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: kherbert05 on May 20, 2013, 07:00:27 PM
You need to talk to HR and mention "hostile work environment".
POD and if there isn't one go to boss and tell him that Jane is a busybody that needs to be reined in and she does not have your best interest at heart. I would also file a complaint with the gym about this woman being allowed to sign you up for classes without your consent and call you names. Next time she calls you names at the gym go straight to the manager and asked that either she be removed or your membership be refunded in full.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: artk2002 on May 20, 2013, 07:01:05 PM
Have nothing to do with Jane outside of work. Talk to HR about the harassment in the lunch room. This is one of those cases where you need to get your word in first. Jane is behaving extremely inappropriately and needs to be reprimanded.

As far as going to the gym, you have two ways of doing this. One will be more satisfying but will be further engaging Jane (which is a bad idea.) The safer one is "No, I'm not going to the gym with you." Say it coldly and then walk away. The other way is to tell her how mean and bullying she was, but all she'll do is turn that around on you and make it how she is trying to help you and you're just ungrateful.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Sneezy on May 20, 2013, 07:08:17 PM
I don't know that this would fall under hostile work environment (very strict definitions there and I don't want the thread locked for legal advice).

It does fall under a lack of common decency, though. You've been firm but polite. She has the issue. Your behavior has been fine. Regarding the bowl scraping, I am one of those people that's insanely sensitive to sound and I can't fathom how she thought that was an acceptable way to act. Saying, "Sorry, I know you probably don't hear it, but that sound is painful to me" is one thing. What she said...unacceptable.

Regarding the gym behavior, you could either tell her that you found her brand of encouragement off-putting and you'd rather go to the gym alone.  Or just say "No" and repeat as necessary. Then, do what kherbert05 suggests. That is an issue that is outside of work, but the gym does have a vested interest in keeping its members from being run off.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: jedikaiti on May 20, 2013, 07:11:35 PM
POD to everyone else.

1) Go to HR. She needs to be given a clue, and fast. Not only for being hostile, but for eavesdropping, and announcing confidential information to the whole company.

2) If she's signing you up for training things at the gym, complain to them. If she's signing you up for things like websites and emails, complain to them, and be sure to comment in her hearing about the appalling amount of spam you've been getting lately. In either case, it should not be so easy for someone to sign you up for services without your consent.

3) Document, document, document. Hopefully you won't need it, but she is clearly off her rocker, so cover your patootie.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Library Dragon on May 20, 2013, 07:14:46 PM
POD to the advice here.  Talk to your boss.  Jane is acting rude to you.  Also, boss needs to be aware that Jane eavesdrops.  That is also disrespectful to boss the boss' authority.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: sammycat on May 20, 2013, 07:19:58 PM
In no way, shape or form were you rude.

Jane was swearing at you and you think you're the rude one?  Did anyone else hear this?  I really think this is a HR matter, especially when combined with the issue of spreading your personal business about. Tell them that you are being harassed.

If she's capable of eavesdropping on private matters and then gossiping about it, she's also capable of doing it with (sensitive) work information as well. HR and/or the boss should be aware of this.

As for the gym, ask them why they allowed someone else to sign you up for something without your consent? They may need to review their policies on this.

How do you respond when she bullies you at the gym? I'd completely and utterly ignore her. If she starts shouting at you (especially if means other people's attention is then drawn to you), inform the management that another client is harassing you, and if it continues, you'll be expecting a full refund so you can take your business elsewhere. Is is possible to go at times you think Jane won't be there?
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: veronaz on May 20, 2013, 08:28:34 PM
Example 1 – No, you were not rude (and I think you know that).  Prior to the breakroom incident, you should have spoken to your boss about Jane’s eavesdropping, her talking to people about your personal situation, and shown boss Jane’s emails.  Then, immediately after the breakroom incident, you should have reported what happened to your boss.  If boss would not stop Jane, go to HR.

Example 2 - I don’t understand what you mean when you say "you thought it would hurt".  But more importantly, I can’t fathom why you would go to the gym or anywhere else with Jane.  She openly harasses and bullies you.   Approach Jane?   ??? You need to be approaching HR.  Stay away from Jane.  If hse asks about going to the gym together, say "No" and walk away.


Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: *inviteseller on May 20, 2013, 09:15:08 PM
Oh nonono...she doesn't have your best interests at heart.  She is an obnoxious bully who is trying to steamroll you and when you have the gall to stand up to her, she throws her fits.  Send the boss and email, cc Human resources if you have one and tell them that you are not happy with the way Jane is acting, it is unprofessional, from eaves dropping on a personal conversation, to spreading your private business all over, to harassing you and you want Jane spoken to.  In the mean time, tell Jane every darn time she starts chirping at you that you are there to work, not socialize and go back to working.  If your boss does not respond in the correct manner (Jane being warned about her behavior), go to the next person.  And documentdocumentdocument.  I would carry around a notebook and keep a daily diary. 
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Slartibartfast on May 20, 2013, 10:22:40 PM
I think you need to be more confrontational, actually - bullies often back down when they realize their targets won't take the abuse quietly.  The next time she tries to bully you, stand up to her:

"Jane, stop telling everyone about my private business already!  You were eavesdropping when you overheard my private conversation with Boss explaining why I needed some personal leave, and you immediately started spreading rumors about my private life around the office.  I never asked you for advice, I don't want your input, and I certainly don't want you gossiping about my private affairs.  Knock it off!"

or, for the gym:

"Jane, stop asking - I'm not going to the gym with you again.  It may have been fun for you, but you were rude and insulting to me the whole time, and you've been disrespectful since then by signing me up for sessions and classes without my consent.  I exercise at my own pace the way I feel works best for me, and I don't need anyone else trying to butt in on my routine.  I appreciate the initial invitation, but I'll take it from here."

In both cases, if she doesn't stop saying inappropriate things (or she keeps gossiping with your co-workers behind your back), you have a solid case to take to your boss and/or HR.  "I explicitly told her on XYZ date to stop harassing me about this topic and she escalated to ABC instead.  This is affecting my ability to work because [reason].  Could you please speak with her and reiterate that her actions are not appropriate?"
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Pen^2 on May 20, 2013, 11:45:04 PM
POD Slartibartfast.

I would also type up a timeline, with dates and all relevant information about each incident (being as unbiased and scientifically dispassionate as possible). People tend to take things more seriously when presented with something physical that they can't dismiss. If you are concerned that they won't believe you (as has happened to me), list witnesses or people who can confirm each incident. Then attach to the back of the timeline all relevant emails and other written messages she has sent you, with the important parts (parts that show bullying) highlighted, as well as your responses telling her to stop.

Boss: she has your best interests in mind.
You: Even if she did, she still did UVW as you can see here, which is unacceptable according to company policy. Her actions are what I have a problem with, not her interests.
Boss: but I'm sure she meant well.
You: Perhaps, but she still did XYZ as you can see here, which is unacceptable according to company policy. Her actions are what I have a problem with, not her intentions.
etc. until Boss stops skirting the issue.

Go to HR first, with the typed list. Make it clear what you want, also: Jane to be told to stop bullying you (and it is bullying: you'll want to use that word repeatedly), stop eavesdropping in the workplace, stop gossiping and spreading rumours about what she has been told is sensitive, private, and none of her business, and so on. Make another list if it helps you brainstorm and get your thoughts in order. Don't think about if something will upset Jane: be coldly professional. You want her to do her job professionally, not to disrupt yours and the workplace with her bullying. If she has a problem with that, she's being unreasonable, and there's nothing you can do.

The gym advice is very good. The next time she signs you up for something or yells unkind things at you, tell her once firmly to stop (if you haven't already). Then, when she repeats the offence, go to gym management and explain that there is a gym member who is shouting obscene things at you and/or signing you up for classes without your permission or knowledge, and that she persists despite you telling her to stop. The gym is unusable as long as this continues. Either they deal with it or refund you the money for a service they are no longer providing.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Noph on May 21, 2013, 12:37:14 AM
It doesn't sound like your work isn't big enough to have an HR dept. Many small companies have just an owner and maybe a manager that handle such things.  Document everything that has happened and anything new.  Speak to the gym about not allowing her to sign you up for anything, no matter what she may tell them. If she asks you to attend the gym with her again, "No" repeated over and over again with "I like to go alone."

 After you've documented at least three examples of instances where the personality conflict with Jane is causing friction for you, ask your boss for a sit down with at least one other person present. (I know this is hard to do if you are a private person and/or decline to make waves whenever possible, but it is for your own protection.)  As suggested by earlier posters, have something you want as a resolution.  You probably can't ask for this woman's job. You've handled it well so far, but you should avoid being alone with her.  This can be difficult in a small company, especially if you don't like to waste money on fast food and traffic and bring a good lunch to eat there.  My work is like this and the surrounding neighborhood isn't really safe to even just take a walk around until lunch is over.

  I am concerned your boss didn't react to learning she'd eased dropped on such a private conversation. . When you are small you must work as a good team! If you create a good team they'll eventually be comfortable sharing information of a personal nature with one another.  However, that trust takes years to build.  As a boss, I'd be worried I'd be furious if one of my team violated another's trust in such a way, especially one that had been with me a short period of time that I'd not built a trust relationship with yet.  You might want to consider sharpening your resume as it maybe a toxic work place and nothing can fix it.  Your boss doesn't sound like he understands what having a personal issue discussed with your co workers made you feel like, nor does he grasp the discord Jane caused on several levels here.  Other co-workers may be ok with her, but they will not forget what she did when it comes to their personal matters.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: niamh on May 21, 2013, 06:48:10 AM
For some reason, she has made it her mission to "fix" you. How irritating, esp. since your boss won't intervene. The next time she starts in, I would simply say, "Jane, I am not your project. Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do/I have an errand to run/I'm in a hurry/the cat's on fire ..."
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: bopper on May 21, 2013, 09:36:25 AM
I would go to boss and say "remember when I discussed  Jane publicly discussing my personal issue and you said that she had my best interests at heart?   At first, I thought that was a reasonable conclusion, but now I am realizing that it goes beyond that. 
<explain all the issues with her talking to you about the private matter>
<Explain how her annoyance with you not taking her advice caused her to yell at you about the bowl>
<Explain about the gym>
So, boss, you can clearly see that Jane has an issue with boundaries. She should not have been evesdropping, and certainly shouldn't have kept bringing up the topic when I told her multiple times to stop.  She should not be calling me fatty when I am exercising nor signing me up for personal training. I am requesting that you tell her to stop getting involved in my personal life.  This also makes me wonder how she will treat our clients. Can she keep proprietary information confidential?   Also, you may see me standing up to her and politely but forcefully tell her to stop."
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: cwm on May 21, 2013, 09:42:23 AM
I've spoken to my boss about it, but my boss brushed it off and just said that Jane has my best interests at heart.

No, she does NOT have your best interests at heart. If she did, she would drop the subject when you told her that it was upsetting you. It's that simple. Explain to your boss or HR what's been happening, document it all, and if your boss says this again, respond by telling him that you're actively being hurt by this and ask what he's going to do about it.

As far as the eavesdropping and spreading gossip? That's another massive HR problem waiting to happen.

When Jane asks you to go to the gym with her, just politely say that it won't be possible. Don't give her any reasons, don't engage any further. Keep repeating it. "I'm sorry, that won't be possible." That's all the response she truly deserves.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: weeblewobble on May 21, 2013, 09:50:35 AM
If anything I would think your supervisor would want to step in after Jane eavesdropped on a private conversation involving employee personal issues and then broadcast what she learned to the other employees. While it may not be actionable (it should be!) It shows an enormous lack of maturity, reliability and integrity.


Her emails are harassment. The foul language is abusive behavior. Report to HR and submit the emails as proof.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: learningtofly on May 21, 2013, 09:50:57 AM
She swore at you and yelled at you.  This is not a good environment.  HR should become involved.  Some small companies have an HR consultant.  Talk to boss again if you can.  She's creating a hostile environment and keeping you from your work.  She's just as new as you are and she's finding her footing by bullying you.

As for the gym-talk to the gym manager.  Let them know that you came to workout with a coworker and she harasses you during workouts.  To please disregard your name on all sign-up lists unless notified by you personally.  If they don't believe you have them observe Jane "encouraging" you during a workout.  If there is another gym you can move to let them know it is you or her.  Either you leave or they throw her out.  You should not be harassed at the gym by another patron.  You shouldn't have to change gyms either, but if they won't get rid of her and you can't workout in peace you may not have a choice.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Outdoor Girl on May 21, 2013, 10:15:03 AM
I'm with Slartibartfast.  She said it much better than I would have.

What I wanted to say about the gym situation was, 'Seriously?  Last time I worked out with you, you called me old and fat.  Why on earth would I want to work out with you again?'

If you have any other personal situations come up, don't feel you have to fill boss in.  If he asks for details, tell him that you aren't comfortable discussing them with him because of what happened with Jane the last time.  If details are required in order to grant the time off, you'll send him something in writing, marked personal and confidential, that he can read and either file securely or shred immediately.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: veronaz on May 21, 2013, 10:37:00 AM
OP, re: your boss……..I’ve seen (and also had) bosses who are either incompetent and/or afraid of a problem employee.  The remark about Jane having your best interests at heart is pure garbage.  Boss just doesn’t want to deal with Jane.  You’re going to have to go over boss’ head (next level boss) or go to HR.  Approaching Jane (politely or otherwise) is not going to accomplish anything because she KNOWS she can do and say whatever she wants.

Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Margo on May 21, 2013, 11:16:51 AM
you were not remotely rude.

I agree thst you need to speak to your boss again.

Be explicit.

"I spoke to you in cofidence. Jane not only evesdropped on that private conversation, which is not OK, she then made it public, which was totally inappropriate, and she has continued to speak about this after I have repeatedly told her I do not want to discuss my private affairs with her, or in public.
I feel that it was very obvious from the outset that I was not sharing that information with anyone other than you, and that even if she inadvertently heard part of our conversation, she had no excuse for repeating or referring to it.

Her refusal to respect my privacy, or to respect my repeated requests to her not to talk about this have been ignored. I feel that she is bullying and harassing me. I don;t know how I can make it any clearer to her how totally inappropriate her behviour is, so I am asking you, as our Boss, to make it clear to her"

Be prepared to proivide a chronology setting out all of the incidents, hen they happened, and your response (e.g. your requests to not talk about this issue)

If Boss brings up the 'she has your interests at heart then a response such as
"No, she hasn't. If she had my interests at heart she would respect my privacy, and my personal choice not to discuss this issue publicly. She knows I dio not want her input but is ignoring that."


If your Boss won;t do anythign, consider taking it higher up the chain of command (if there is one).

Do you have any more sympathetic co-workers who might be willing to back yuou up?

eg

Jane "you should ..."
You "I don;t want to discuss this, it's a private matter"
jane "but I want to help, you..."
SCW "Jane, give it a rest. Hollyandra said she doesn't need your advice."
jane "But if she.."
SCW "She said no. Stop bullying the poor woman. holly, can you help me with this workrelated thing?"

Better still if more than one of your co-workers is willing to back you up.

Good Luck.

Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on May 21, 2013, 11:32:31 AM
I agree with the previous 2 posters.  Your boss is a wuss and doesn't want to deal with her, so the only thing you can do is go up the chain of command. 

Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: amylouky on May 21, 2013, 11:42:25 AM
Wow. She takes the cake.
At this point, I'd be responding to every personal question, invitation to the gym, or other intrusive comment with, "I am not interested in sharing my personal life with you. Please restrict your comments to work information." Any protests or "WHYYYYYY???" would be answered with the first sentence. Lather, rinse, repeat.
And I'd be avoiding being around her when there are not witnesses.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: DottyG on May 21, 2013, 12:41:47 PM
Quote
In no way, shape or form were you rude.

This.  And I am so angry on your behalf right now.  At Jane.  At your boss.  And for anyone who is witnessing all of this and not helping you.

I agree with Slart as well.  And I agree completely that you need to be documenting each and every encounter with her.  Date, time, what was said, who was there with you at the time (for witnessing purposes, if needed) and anything else you can write down.  You need to have a solid set of written down data to get this resolved.

And I agree completely with using the word "bully" - that is what she is.  Clear and simple.  When you use that word, the corresponding one for you is "target," by the way.  Don't use "victim."  A bully bullies a target.  There's a very definitely difference in the two.

Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: veronaz on May 21, 2013, 03:16:25 PM
Hindsight - when told Jane "has my best interests at heart" I would have frowned and asked boss "How?  ???  Exactly what do you mean?" then maybe written an email confirming what was said.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: crella on May 21, 2013, 05:36:48 PM
Quote
We were on the treadmill and she started yelling 'encouraging' things at me, such as "come on grandma" and "move it fatty!"

 :o :o :o Color me gobsmacked.

She's not a nice, helping person at all. That's terrible. POD on everyone's advice.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: ellebelle on May 29, 2013, 11:16:09 AM
Before everyone starts going off on the boss, I don't see that the OP ever mentioned her boss saying that Jane had only her best interest at heart, etc.

That came from other posters.

I would like to know from the OP if she has even mentioned this problem to her boss?
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: LeveeWoman on May 29, 2013, 11:19:32 AM
Before everyone starts going off on the boss, I don't see that the OP ever mentioned her boss saying that Jane had only her best interest at heart, etc.

That came from other posters.

I would like to know from the OP if she has even mentioned this problem to her boss?

From the first post:

, but my boss brushed it off and just said that Jane has my best interests at heart
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: veronaz on May 29, 2013, 11:22:12 AM
LeveeWoman beat me to it.  The boss DID say that, and deserves all the criticism s/he is getting.
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: PrettySticks on May 29, 2013, 01:15:49 PM
Have you ever noticed that any time someone says "I'm just trying to *help* you!" they're doing anything but, and it's pretty much a cover for them to be insulting/overbearing/what-have-you?  Because if it were true, and they were really helping, then there'd be no need to mention it.  If you have to say it, you ain't doin' it!

Personally, I don't see a problem with telling her precisely why you don't want to go to the gym - I liked Outdoor Girl's wording just fine - and if she calls you rude or ungrateful, you have your out! "So if I'm rude and ungrateful, why would YOU want to work out with ME?"  Something similar could be said if she gets upset when you ask her to stop talking about your personal issue.  "If I'm so rude and ungrateful, then you should definitely not waste your time giving me advice." 

You mentioned she's started a few weeks before you.  I suspect she didn't have any friends in the office yet and since you were newer than she was, she thought you two could be pals.  She caught a piece of personal info about you, and decided that she was going to solve the issue and that would be your special bond.  It would certainly explain why she thinks you're so rude, but is still so set on spending time with you! 
Title: Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
Post by: ellebelle on May 29, 2013, 04:02:04 PM
LeveeWoman beat me to it.  The boss DID say that, and deserves all the criticism s/he is getting.

Sorry! I somehow missed that.