Author Topic: Being startled at work.  (Read 10475 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

MOM21SON

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2973
Being startled at work.
« on: March 03, 2013, 04:23:09 PM »
I am often startled, sometimes on occasion it will cause my eyes to well up and my chin quiver.  Please don't laugh, I am serious.

I have worked with my coworkers for a long time, some for 10 plus years.  I have been startled many times over the years.  99% remember I startle easily because my outburst and jumping has startled them.

The one woman is a supervisor, she is no longer my direct supervisor but she was for 10 years.  She knows of this issue.

One day a week I am assigned to a special project.  To do this project I am in a small office with my back to the door.  When I am in this office, most of my coworkers announce that they are on their way.  Usually with stomping their feet and saying, "mom, here I come!"  All is well.

The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

When she was my supervisor we had several disagreements.  Now that she is no longer my direct sup, we get along very well.  I would like us to keep getting along very well.

Any advice on how I can address this with her without rocking the boat?

TIA!

Zizi-K

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 486
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 05:12:38 PM »
Perhaps you can write her an email gently explaining that your startle response is involuntary. You could try to "get her on your side" by "asking for her help" in the matter. You could say, "I realize that my startle response is more sensitive than most other people, but there isn't anything I can do about it. I would if I could, because it is quite upsetting and unpleasant to have one's heart race (and whatever over symptoms) every time someone surprises me. Believe me, it is not personal. Would you help me by making a bit of noise when you approach me from behind?"

Tilt Fairy

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 632
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 07:38:58 PM »
Could you rearrange your office desk so your back is not facing the door? If you have this hyper sensitive startle response to other people's normal behaviour in the office even when they accommodate your requests to soften the startle but don't do it quite according to how you want, I think the onus is on you to make sure you give yourself as less a chance as possible to be startled. Something like rearranging your desk so you can see who's coming into your office; or perhaps having the office door shut so people have to knock first; or maybe even asking if you can move your whole office or just your desk somewhere else in on the floor where your back is to the wall so you have a full line of vision of what's in front of you if your startle response is as strong as you describe.

The thing is, it's very difficult for your co-workers to curb their normal behaviour for this. It's not practical or realistic that people can accommodate this or remember to accommodate this all the time. Offices are busy places full of hustle and bustle and people might sometimes have to call out to other people. fetch someone in a hurry, raise their voice quickly, move rapidly, drop things, burst out laughing occasionally. I'm sure nobody means to startle you or upset you on purpose knowing how you react, but it's very difficult to walk on eggshells all the time and even more difficult to always remember to do this around you as the default.

I hope you work out a solution.

cross_patch

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 106
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 07:45:57 PM »
I must agree that the onus is on you rather than your coworker to change behaviour- your reaction seems very extreme, and it does sound like your coworkers are fairly accommodating. I must say I would find that irritating, so I am not surprised that she snapped- perhaps not the politest, but understandable. I think Tilt Fairy has some very good suggestions. I hope you are able to resolve the issue.

SamiHami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2868
  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 08:11:52 PM »
POD to the previous posts, and I also suggest that perhaps therapy would be a good idea.  Some behavioral therapy sessions might help you learn to regulate your startle reactions so they aren't so extreme.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

MOM21SON

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2973
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 08:41:31 PM »
Thank you for the responses.  I do agree that it is my problem.  It is not possible to rearrange the room.  However I did hear today that "my area" would be moved at the end of the month due to corporate changes.  I will still have my area but in a unknown area of the building.  Do you think it is ok to suggest an area?

SamiHami, therapy has helped.  It really is much better than it used to be.  I know this stems from my past and I am really doing better.  Most of the time I can laugh about it when it happens.

Dazi

  • like the flower
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3869
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 08:46:45 PM »
As one who also startles easily (hearing issues), I have a super easy solution for you.


Get a mirror.  Place it on the desk, or wall, or even better, get a convex mirror and place just above your head.
Meditate. Live purely. Quiet the mind. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. ---Gautama Buddah





MOM21SON

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2973
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2013, 09:00:29 PM »
As one who also startles easily (hearing issues), I have a super easy solution for you.


Get a mirror.  Place it on the desk, or wall, or even better, get a convex mirror and place just above your head.

Great idea!  thanks!

Dazi

  • like the flower
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3869
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2013, 09:05:48 PM »
You're welcome.  A cw suggested it years ago.  It was the best idea ever.
Meditate. Live purely. Quiet the mind. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. ---Gautama Buddah





random numbers

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 180
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2013, 11:23:25 PM »
I bought a small convex mirror and stuck it to my monitor.

http://www.amazon.com/CIPA-49104-Convex-Adjustable-Mirror/dp/B000CIONQW

YummyMummy66

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 630
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 06:46:20 AM »
I think you need to talk with her and not email and state, that you are sorry, you simply cannot stop doing what you do when SHE startles you.  It is something that you have dealt with for years and you are trying, but your body is not going to change overnight.

However, since SHE knows how you can react to being startled, SHE can stop what she is doing by making some small amount of noise before she approaches you so that you know someone is approaching, as your other co-workers do.

And after actually reading all posts now, you can then also state that you received the suggestion of trying a mirror, which you will do, but that does not mean it will be 100% effective, but maybe with her helping also by making noise and using the mirror, we can work on this situation.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 06:48:25 AM by YummyMummy66 »

Margo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1209
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 08:34:47 AM »
I see others have beaten me to it with the suggestion of a mirror - I would also suggest closing the door, if you can - you can ask people to knock and enter, and even if they don't, the sound of the door opening will give you a bit of warning. (if the  door is very quiet, and if you can do it without driving you co-workers nuts, you could maybe hang something on the inside door handle which would make a bit of noise when the door is opened.)

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12011
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2013, 10:26:47 AM »
The OP says she doesn't like being startled and most people try to accommodate that...but the former supervisor is the one who says that it is wrong to try to accommodate her! 

Sophia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 11550
  • xi
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2013, 10:37:34 AM »
I can relate.  I have that problem too.  I have noticed that being startled makes me jittery and more likely to be startled in the future.  At the moment, I am not jittery and it is great.

I've never had someone intentionally startle me ... at least more than once.  My reaction is a loud scream and hands flying in the air.  I seem to remember whacking someone in the nose once. 

Once I even scared myself.  I was very jittery then.  I was in a public building going down those wide stairs that public buildings sometimes have.  But the stairs changed directions with landings.  I was with my best friend and was feeling no fear.  Then a guy coming up the stairs startled me.  I don't know why.  The only thing I can think of was that our footfalls were noisy and he had rubber-soled shoes, and I didn't hear him come up.  Anyway, I was startled and I screamed.  Then the echo of my scream startled me and I screamed again (half volume)

Firecat

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2475
Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2013, 11:30:02 AM »
The mirror really does help. I have one at my desk, too. But I've also asked my coworkers (and mostly, they remember) to knock on the end of my desk or say my name if they need my attention. That generally works pretty well for everyone involved.