Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => Complete Silence => Topic started by: Cherry91 on March 02, 2015, 03:56:49 PM

Title: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Cherry91 on March 02, 2015, 03:56:49 PM
I have a success story!

I'm back to temping, and although I'm actually assisting HR, I've been placed in the IT office due to space issues. The guy directly across from me tried to make conversation a few times, but every time we talked, he managed to insult me.

For example, he "teased" me several times about what was expected of the newest member of the office (fetching teas, getting lunches and so on). That lead to me saying "jokingly" (I really dislike mind games): "I don't think I can trust you now!" to which he responded "Ah, you're smarter than you look!"

He must have realised I was offended, because he tried to backtrack, stating he meant I looked about 14. I coolly informed him I was in my 20s and got on with my work.

Another time, he suggested we move my desk forward slightly as there are some cupboards behind me that the office need to be able to access, and one of the doors kept hitting the back of my chair when opened. I said this was a good idea, and went to take hold of one end of the desk so he could take the other. However, he insisted on summoning the third (male) member of the office to take my side of the desk as, in his words "We wouldn't want you to break a nail!" I let them move the desk and sat down without another word to him (I thanked the other coworker).

After a while, he apologised if he'd made me feel awkward by teasing me. I responded with "Thank you for apologising" and nothing else. He sat there, clearly waiting for me to state that I hadn't been made uncomfortable, that he hadn't been too bad, etc, but I refused to let him off the hook. The next day, he tried the same technique, once again looking for me to excuse his bad behaviour, and I once again refused to excuse him for his condescending attitude.

At the end of the second day, he began to whine that I wasn't talking to him anymore. I said "I'm here to do a job. Have a good evening." and left without another word.

And today's success? We didn't interact at all. After being talked down to every time we have interacted so far, I find it greatly preferable.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: EllenS on March 02, 2015, 04:11:30 PM
Well done!
Unfortunately, this is some people's idea of "flirting." Thank you, on behalf of the rest of humanity, for your efforts on this front.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: CocoCamm on March 02, 2015, 09:48:36 PM
I don't know...this sounds like typical silly office interactions to me, especially between people who don't really know each other. Granted he doesn't sound like the wittiest guy around but it does seem like he was trying to include you. In my experience office banter is usually pretty teasing and innane. I doubt the guy was trying to be offensive or insulting.

I think in business settings you need to be careful not to be too cold, especially as a temp as this could effect your possibly transitioning to a permanent position.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: EllenS on March 02, 2015, 09:57:42 PM
Oh, I don't think the guy was trying to be insulting. I think he was trying to be cute/funny. But he was insulting, nonetheless. I really don't think OP should have to play along or pretend not to be offended when someone is, in fact, being offensive.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: greencat on March 02, 2015, 10:39:12 PM
The guy's interactions, as described here, are very sexist.  Good for you for shutting him down.  You may want to report to whoever handles such things in HR - or to your manager, if that's the position you're temping for - how he treats women he interacts with.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: CocoCamm on March 02, 2015, 10:45:05 PM
Oh, I don't think the guy was trying to be insulting. I think he was trying to be cute/funny. But he was insulting, nonetheless. I really don't think OP should have to play along or pretend not to be offended when someone is, in fact, being offensive.

But the level of offense was so minimal. And this is someone she has to spend 40 hours a week with. If this was some guy in a bar I would agree with you but this is work. And being thin skinned isn't going to get you far in an office environment.

I think in business situations like this you need to ask yourself what to you have to lose vs what do you have to gain. The OP won the battle and her office mate isn't bothering her anymore but she may have shot herself in the foot if she's being looked at as not a team player or even just someone who looks for offense in nonsense chit chat.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: katycoo on March 02, 2015, 11:48:04 PM
Unfortunately I think that you've handled it a little too coldly.

The impression I got was that he was trying to be friendly and inclusive.  Now you've created a very cold environment - he thinks you're rude and doesn't know what he did wrong.

What I think you could have done is told him what he had said that had bothered you, and it a straightforward, but still friendly manner.  Some people are just clueless but are more than happy to accomodate when educated.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Cherry91 on March 03, 2015, 01:25:16 AM
Hi,

I had to cut the OP for length, but literally every time this guy talks to me he insults me in some patronising way.

Also, the fact that he keeps apologising for his "banter" makes it seem to me that to me that he knows he's being offensive, but doesn't care enough to actually stop.

I acknowledge this is an issue of thin skinned-ness, but being patronised is something that really, really sets me off. So I had to go cold so that I didn't go hot.

I'm only at the office until Friday and then my contract's finished. I just want to do my work and get out.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: lilihob on March 03, 2015, 01:43:58 AM
I think that you dealt with him beautifully.
You're only there til Friday, so what if he's unhappy that you didn't enjoy his "banter".
Etiquette is not about being "nice", it's about being polite.
Demanding niceness in the face of bad behaviour is a crock!
He was patronising you because you are a young woman. You politely showed him his behind.
Hi five.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Mel the Redcap on March 03, 2015, 02:53:04 AM
I think you did awesomely, especially with the update about this being his preferred style of chit-chat. ::) If he keeps saying something that's either borderline or over the line, then apologising, he knows he's doing something wrong but is counting on the insincere apologies to keep himself out of trouble.

Dear mildly-sexist men of the world: this is not a good way to interact with women. Some of us (myself included) think this is actually worse than making a borderline comment without realising it is wrong. Stoppit.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: EllenS on March 03, 2015, 09:46:28 AM
I've worked in many different office environments. There is nearly always a guy or two who behave like this.

He is not usually in charge of anything, and the people who are in charge may "put up with" him for his other skills, but they do not enjoy his attitude/behavior any more than OP does.

There may be some businesses where snarky sexist jerks get ahead for a while, but they are not high-quality businesses. Usually (in my experience) the "team" appreciates someone who is brave enough to refuse to enable/reward this behavior.

The person who can keep their head, remain polite, and not be baited tends to rise above jerks who can't control their mouths.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: SamiHami on March 03, 2015, 10:15:07 AM
Sounds like he is very socially awkward and doesn't know how to talk to women without being awkward and dumb. I suspect it's less to do with sexism and more to do with just plain awkwardness. Either way, OP's reaction is a good way to teach him that he's not communicating appropriately. Perhaps if other females do the same he's figure it out and learn from it.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Twik on March 03, 2015, 10:42:15 AM
Unfortunately I think that you've handled it a little too coldly.

The impression I got was that he was trying to be friendly and inclusive.  Now you've created a very cold environment - he thinks you're rude and doesn't know what he did wrong.

What I think you could have done is told him what he had said that had bothered you, and it a straightforward, but still friendly manner.  Some people are just clueless but are more than happy to accomodate when educated.

No, he's not being inclusive at all. He's telling the OP, in so many words, that he has a problem with her being a female. You know, the sort of female who will leave all the heavy lifting (real and metaphorical) to his manly self, because she might "break a nail."

He knows that he offended her, and she acknowledged the apology. She's not obligated to soften that by going, "Oh, but I know you didn't mean anything, I wasn't really offended, you're a wonderful person and I'm the one who should apologize for making you feel bad about being offensive to me, yada yada yada."
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Kari on March 03, 2015, 11:53:31 AM
I had to deal with one of those and I was cold to him in return, too. He was a particular favorite of the company president, and anyone who complained about him found their words falling on deaf ears. This man could not speak to me without insulting my shoes, clothes, you name it. Even when he had business to discuss, the topic would inevitably open with a personal criticism. It finally ended when he came up to my desk with the IT guy to check something on my computer and before he could state his business, he ended up blurting out "What's wrong with your hair?" (I had highlights put in.) I silently got up and walked away, leaving both men utterly confused. I took care of some quick business elsewhere, came back to my desk, where the men still stood, open-mouthed, and I sweetly asked, "Oh, did you have anything else to add?" We actually got along swimmingly after that - I think he had an unconscious respect for me standing up to him. Or, at least, a fear that messing with me would cause me to further waste his time!
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: greencat on March 03, 2015, 12:13:23 PM
The guy that my other new coworkers warned me about being a patronizing jerk stopped being one after I stood up to him, specifically addressed the sexist language he was using - and then sicced our boss on him to let him know that I really, truly, was not ever going to put up with that attitude.  Now he actually gets along with me better than he gets along with the rest of the team.  That isn't saying much since he's been feuding with one of the other guys for years over which direction forms get filed in a cabinet...

Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: LonniesMom on March 03, 2015, 12:44:36 PM
I hate that sarcastic office banter. I find it very rude. Depending on the situation I either let it go or say nothing.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: katycoo on March 03, 2015, 02:24:47 PM
Unfortunately I think that you've handled it a little too coldly.

The impression I got was that he was trying to be friendly and inclusive.  Now you've created a very cold environment - he thinks you're rude and doesn't know what he did wrong.

What I think you could have done is told him what he had said that had bothered you, and it a straightforward, but still friendly manner.  Some people are just clueless but are more than happy to accomodate when educated.

No, he's not being inclusive at all. He's telling the OP, in so many words, that he has a problem with her being a female. You know, the sort of female who will leave all the heavy lifting (real and metaphorical) to his manly self, because she might "break a nail."

He knows that he offended her, and she acknowledged the apology. She's not obligated to soften that by going, "Oh, but I know you didn't mean anything, I wasn't really offended, you're a wonderful person and I'm the one who should apologize for making you feel bad about being offensive to me, yada yada yada."

I don't think she should have softened the apology. I just think that she should have said something like "it's actually really offensive when you say things like that because it's implying I'm not capable and therefore lesser than you. I'd appreciate if you'd make an effort not to do so again". With a smile.

And if he's still doing it, go cold. I just think it's better to clearly state what your issue is to know you've done what you can to be collegiate.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: EllenS on March 03, 2015, 02:31:18 PM
I get what you're saying, katycoo, and that's a legit choice. I just don't think you owe people an education in return for insulting you.

I'm sure Insultingman was not the only person at the office with whom OP ever interacted. There are plenty of opportunities to be cordial with co-workers who are not actively belittling you at every turn.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Cali.in.UK on March 04, 2015, 02:03:12 PM
OP, I think you did a great job. In the past I had experience working with men who considered insulting/patronizing comments teasing to be work-banter. I would secretly seethe but I wished I had done what you did. I also find it really unattractive and offensive when men insult/degrade woman as a form of flirting, it reminds me of those weird pickup artist shows where the pickup artist instructs the students to "lower the woman's self-esteem" before asking her out.
Also, since I don't know your coworker I can't say for sure, but most of the people that I have encountered in my life who like to "joke" with others by being insulting tend to react quite poorly when the tables are turned. I had a manager one summer during undergrad that was pretty insulting to everyone at work, especially the younger female staff, but always claim it was "just a joke" if people got upset and then he would get very stern when others made jokes at his expense.
Hopefully he learns from this and doesn't treat other new coworkers that way.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Drunken Housewife on March 04, 2015, 11:20:58 PM
Just like Cali-inUK, this reminded me of "pick up artists."  I bet the coworker thinks he is flirting with you by "negging", which is making little remarks to make a woman feel insecure and like the man is of a higher caliber than her.  I don't know if it ever works to make the woman admire the man and desire him.  In my experience, women are not fond of being continually put down, and like the OP, do not like the person doing it.

For those of you who have not been exposed to this rather horrible phenomenon, the PUA culture, here's a link:  http://www.seductionscience.com/2010/negging-women/  Depressing and sexist.  I tried to pick one less vulgar than usual.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: greencat on March 04, 2015, 11:49:11 PM
Just like Cali-inUK, this reminded me of "pick up artists."  I bet the coworker thinks he is flirting with you by "negging", which is making little remarks to make a woman feel insecure and like the man is of a higher caliber than her.  I don't know if it ever works to make the woman admire the man and desire him.  In my experience, women are not fond of being continually put down, and like the OP, do not like the person doing it.

For those of you who have not been exposed to this rather horrible phenomenon, the PUA culture, here's a link:  http://www.seductionscience.com/2010/negging-women/  Depressing and sexist.  I tried to pick one less vulgar than usual.

Having read the original version of the "negging" technique (forgot where), it was meant to be applied with a feather-light touch.  Most guys read something about it and use it as a sledgehammer.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: bopper on June 19, 2015, 08:10:42 AM
"Teasing is generally something funny you do with people you know. That isn't the case here."
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: mime on June 23, 2015, 03:28:10 PM
I like your responses! Very dignified and professional.

Poor guy-- you're not falling in line and giggling at his cute little jokes.

As for negging: wow. I don't know if I'm more frustrated that people actually do this, or that it is more effective than it should be.
Title: Re: Silently Shutting Down a Condescending Coworker
Post by: Lexophile on October 24, 2017, 05:02:44 PM
I get what you're saying, katycoo, and that's a legit choice. I just don't think you owe people an education in return for insulting you.

I'm sure Insultingman was not the only person at the office with whom OP ever interacted. There are plenty of opportunities to be cordial with co-workers who are not actively belittling you at every turn.

THIS!

I think the OP was actually quite controlled in her response. Why should she have to monitor her actions if this guy can't monitor his? There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior. Full stop. The only thing people like this understand is exactly what the OP did. I applaud her responses!