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Author Topic: Apparently I'm the rude one  (Read 15940 times)

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Apparently I'm the rude one
« 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

« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 09:19:52 PM by Hollyandra »


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2013, 06:29:09 PM »
You need to talk to HR and mention "hostile work environment".


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #2 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.
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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #3 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.
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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #4 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.


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #5 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.
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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #6 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.

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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #7 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?


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #8 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.


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #9 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. 


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #10 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?"


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #11 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.


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 12:43:40 AM by Noph »
Sorry about my spelling.


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #13 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 ..."


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Re: Apparently I'm the rude one
« Reply #14 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."