Author Topic: Being startled at work.  (Read 11528 times)

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BeagleMommy

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2013, 12:23:36 PM »
I like the mirror idea.  Maybe you can buy this supervisor a jingly bracelet.  :)

Mom, I am one of those people who has a very soft step.  It came from many years in theater where we had to walk softly backstage so we wouldn't disrupt the action onstage.  I've startled many people in several offices and I've always apologized because it is my doing.  I often joke that I need to put a bell around my neck.

Hopefully, the mirror helps.  I do think the supervisor was rude in her reaction particularly if she knew about your response to being startled.

TootsNYC

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2013, 12:46:41 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!

Get a roll of kraft paper. Lay a piece over the floor in the door of your office and write "please make noise--step here" on it. Then they'll crinkle the paper when they arrive. Since you bought a roll of it, you can put down a new piece every day.

oceanus

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2013, 01:00:21 PM »
Quote
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."

Not exactly a nice reaction, but I understand the supervisor’s point.

OP, is this something that only happens at work?  Or do you also get startled and have outbursts in the aisle of a store and other places?

Interacting with and being approached by people is a part of everyday life.  Your extreme reaction not only affects you but also those who have to be around you.  I don't see mirrors as a solution.  I also don't really see it as an etiquette issue.

Have you ever seen a doctor/other professional to try to get to the reason for your fear/anxiety, and to get some help?


« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 01:02:31 PM by oceanus »

Lynn2000

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2013, 01:23:50 PM »
Love the mirror idea. I have one on my desk at work, although in my case it's so I can see who just came in the door without turning around in my chair.

Although the onus is on the OP for this (as she acknowledged), I do think it's telling that everyone else in the office is able to adapt and accommodate it, and only this one person refuses to--even though that one person is bothered by the OP's startle reflex, and notices she does it often. If I were the supervisor in this case I think I would first try modifying my own behavior in a minor way, as the other employees have done, rather than yelling at my worker to stop it.

I mean, yeah, some people do the "OH! You startled me! I am so sensitive!" thing to get attention, but after a few events I think it becomes apparent if that's their motivation, or some other eye-rolling situation. For example I had a co-worker who startled easily because she zoned out when she should have been paying attention. Once we were working side-by-side on a project and we had to wait for something to finish, so we just sat there silently for about a minute. When it was done I started to speak and she JUMPED and was like, "Oh, you scared me!" Um, I've been sitting here the whole time talking to you!

But I would think it would be obvious after a while that the OP was genuinely startled and upset by that, so I don't see what's to be gained by yelling at her. But, obviously, one can't really change the supervisor's behavior, so I would go with the mirror, making people open the door, something jingly on the door, a sign asking people to make noise as they approach, etc.. If you have any say at all in where your new work area would be, I would try to find a better setup, at least where you don't have your back to the door. I think it wouldn't hurt to politely ask if this was possible, anyway. If your supervisor has anything to do with assigning work areas, that might be a good way to broach the subject with her--"As you've noticed, I startle easily, and I know that's annoying to people. Is there any way I could get a work area where I'm facing the door, so I can see people coming?"
~Lynn2000

onyonryngs

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2013, 01:34:35 PM »
I startle very easily.  I'll normally let out a little screech and jump, but it's my issue, no one elses.  I know I'm in no danger and I just let it go.   It's one of those things I've learned to live with. 

Sophia

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2013, 01:58:05 PM »
...OP, is this something that only happens at work?  Or do you also get startled and have outbursts in the aisle of a store and other places?...

I am not the OP, but for me it is a matter of being extremely focused and then someone entering my personal bubble.  So, I wouldn't be startled while driving or grocery shopping because my focus is over a wide area.  But, for example, I once pulled over on the highway to make a call.  I was typing the phone number on my PDA when a cop knocked on my window.  I about had a heart attack.  Because of the focus, it was as if he appeared out of nowhere right next to me by magic.  The cop was being nice and saw my hazard lights on and was seeing if I needed assistance. 

The worst was when I had a cubicle right off a hallway.  People were walking by all day, so I learned to tune them out.  Then when someone wanted to talk to me, by the time it was obvious they wanted to talk to me, they were already in my personal bubble.  When I changed departments and therefore cubes, no one complained when I claimed the cube at the end of short hallway.

Margo

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2013, 03:13:50 PM »
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!
Sure. But sometimes making a general request is perceived as less antagonistic than asking just one person.

I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

RebeccainGA

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2013, 03:25:25 PM »
I have the same issue (accidentally sneaky boss, and startle easily). I am also on a major walking path in the area, so I have a lot of sound to tune out.

I have a mirror, I have my phone turned a certain way to reflect movement, and I keep a drawer open so they can't stand right next to me without bumping into it (and me hearing them). It's taken a couple of years to get to that point, but it helps.

Good luck finding your own solution!

perpetua

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2013, 03:36:28 PM »
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.

cross_patch

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2013, 03:46:47 PM »
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.

This sums up the issue perfectly, I think.

Tilt Fairy

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2013, 03:49:03 PM »
^ I also agree with this.

Docslady21

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2013, 04:49:39 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!

First, her reaction, as someone in a supervisory position, is extremely unprofessional.

When I am concentrating extremely hard, I will not notice people in my space. Add to that, my area can be approached from 2 sides. I'm really not understanding how I could go to therapy to be trained not to jump when I am surprised as people have advised. Isn't that a natural reaction? Yes. Instinct, in fact. It doesn't matter that you are "safe" and that no one is a killer. It's an inborn response to the unexpected entering into your space while you are vulnerable--even in the office.

Also, don't most people lightly tap on the door and stand back a few feet and call out the other person's name? That's what I do when I approach another person in the office. I never wait until I am right behind them to start speaking because I don't want to startle them. It's just polite to do your best not to scare the crackers out of your coworkers while their back is turned or they are concentrating. 

LeveeWoman

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2013, 04:52:10 PM »
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.

Small clarification: it's not just walking that startles her. It's when the woman talks before making her presence known.

perpetua

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2013, 04:54:57 PM »
She said that the supervisor walks quietly then talks, and that her other co-workers (who presumably accommodate) stomp loudly and announce 'here I come'. That's *way* above and beyond the call of duty. Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #29 on: March 04, 2013, 04:55:46 PM »
She said that the supervisor walks quietly then talks, and that her other co-workers (who presumably accommodate) stomp loudly and announce 'here I come'. That's *way* above and beyond the call of duty. Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.

And that's why she's here, asking for advice.