I fell for it again ::banghead:

There is this guy at work. We get along most of the time as co-workers even though deep down he is the last guy I would choose to work with if I could have my way. I have learnt to bite my tongue a lot and he usually bugs other people so I pretend I don’t hear a thing he says.

I find he can be very tasteless at times. We are both on contract as well as another guy. Once it is over they will make one of us permanent and let the other 2 go. He use to make jokes about which one of us will be kept. After politely asking him not to do that, I had to become much more firm in telling him to get my message across.

He does things that I consider very unethical. I keep my thoughts. to myself since I am not the moral police of the office. However, I try not to spend too much time around him since I feel a lot of pressure to do immoral things. And I don’t care for the temptation.

Well, he spends most of his social time with this one girl. This girl will be on holidays for the next little while so he has been talking to me more. And I am feeling the pressure to do immoral things at work and I am feeling pressure to divulge things I think are best kept private. And I was getting kind of mad because today, I felt like I caved and told him more than I was comfortable telling him. So I tried to tell him I didn’t wanted to participate in such conversations. He though I was joking and made a remark at my expense. I can’t remember what he said but I told him ‘jokes at my expense are not funny’. To which he replied ‘You got to laugh in life’. I felt that was a manipulative way of excusing his behaviour.

My concern is his friend will be away all next week and he will bug me more and I will fall for it again. And anytime I set a boundary, he thinks I am joking and I go off tangent and the boundary never gets set.p

I just hope that if he does start an inappropriate conversation, I will have the strength to immediately walk away and not fall for it


Can’t you go to the HR department and complain about him harassing you? Seems companies are very sensitive to things like that now, they don’t want to be sued for allowing it to go on.

When I’ve been in similar situations at work with such people… I try to find someway to either remove myself from the situation or to change the topic. I’ve even resorted to using the privy as an excuse when I didn’t have a job task that would remove me from the situation, something from the news media, or even the weather as an alternative. When changing the topic, I do it without segue - takes the person off-guard and they tend to follow the new topic in an effort to recover, doesn’t always work. Learned that technique in a behavioral management course as a means to defuse emotionally charged situations!

Unfortunately, you may have to go to the management level at some point. Certainly not my first go to option; however, it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. Being on contract places you in a rough spot… then again, being on contract could be a blessing in disguise in that the issue will resolve itself in the long run.

I’ll pray for you…

At this point I would go to management. If he is suggesting unethical behavior at work let them know what that is. If the issues are more personal he may be crossing the line of creating a hostile work environment or sexual harassment if there are inappropriate suggestions in that realm. But you need to stop him in his tracks.

Be honest with your supervisor about why this troubles you and do so in a way that reflects confidence in your own perspective and self. (Don’t go in feeling guilty about how you have tried to deflect this person’s attention or behavior. Trust yourself.)

Oddly enough folks who act like this fellow are taking some of the early steps toward being more offensive and even abusive. Put a stop to his nonsense, focus on doing your job well and avoid as much interaction with him as possible. I too, have had this kind of issue at jobs and these people are annoying and don’t do anything for the general well fare of others or the company.

Thank you everyone for your replies. The reason I do not want to go to HR is because this guy is so ‘smooth’ it would appear like me making a mountain out of a mole hill. Secondly, I have been around the block long enough to know there are 2 types of HR. 1-) the type that cares to solve personality issues and 2-) the type that just finds this immature no matter how good of a point the victim has. This place is define type #2.

Second, there is NO sexual harassment so that is not the issue. The things I find unethical are using his ear phones to listen to Youtube videos while he works. Or we will sit in a meeting with management and we will be given instructions. The second we are back at our desks, he will be very loud in telling everyone how to go about it. When I point out that is not what management told us to do he will say ‘Well this would make more sense’. I have no respect for someone who can not bring their ideas up in a meeting and then totally contradicts management behind their back. They are all little things I can’t really complain about without seaming petty.

The worse is while our boss was away on vacation. he spent 1 hour a day fling elastics at another girl and I got caught in the cross fire. After several polite warnings, I had to really raise my voice and threaten to go to management for it to stop.

Or what really bugs me is when I ask him not to make a joke at my expense he will say ‘You have to laugh in life. If I am sympathetic to your problem, it makes it a bigger problem, when I make a joke I am making you see you don’t need to worry’ and I fall for his logic at the time and then I beat myself up after.

I think I will ask him to go to the cafeteria for a private talk and if he refuses I will say ‘Unless you agree to hear me out, I will have to go to HR.’ Then I will send him an email outlining my boundaries and tell him it is proof that we have discussed this before and I will be able to show that to HR if he does not stop. I will also invite him to write me back with his boundaries to show that I am open to working as a team and am more than happy to accommodate him.


Whoa, hold up; it sounds like most of this coworker’s behavior doesn’t directly involve you ( ie, listening to videos when he shouldn’t) and doesn’t rise to the magnitude of taking things up with management/HR (except for flinging stuff across the room; you had every right to make him stop). You don’t have to chitchat with this fellow at all and subject yourself to jokes; keep your interactions courteous, professional, and short, and when business is concluded, say you’ve got to get back to work and leave. If he’s at your desk, say that you’re too busy to chat and turn your attention to your work.

If you want, you can ask your coworker for a word and explain that you really don’t care to joke with him and request him to stop, but I don’t think I’d threaten anything. Just minimize nonessential contact with the guy as much as you can. Unfortunately, part of most any job is dealing with annoying people; even amazing workplaces have at least one such person. Good luck.

I totally agree a lot of the stuff does not directly involve me which is why I would not bring those items to HR. However, when he calls me over to show me something he thinks is interesting and I express I don’t want to, his little manipulation tactics start and I feel pressured into watching.

Or, when I say things like ‘I need to go back to my work’ that is when he starts his inappropriate jokes such as ‘Angie, are you just the devoted little employee making me look bad’ and when I express those comments are not appropriate and I wish for him to stop, he starts with his ‘You got to laugh in life’ lectures

I would be more than HAPPY to just sit at my desk and work. However, he does NOT respect that boundary and I always end up getting roped into conversations that end up ruining my evening/weekend.

The boundary I wish to set with him is when I tell him I am going to work, he is not to make his side remarks. And if he does not respect that, then I will go to HR with that


A very sensible boundary. Go ahead and set it! You will not change this man; he is who he is. Do not respond when he calls you over for something interesting; don’t rise to his bait, don’t get sucked into conversations. He isn’t your boss, and you aren’t compelled to make small talk with him.

Buy some headphones of your own - the real kind with pads, not earbuds. Preferably noise cancelling. The minute you say “I need to get back to work,” put them on.

Some people are easiest to deal with when you can’t hear them.

I agree with Heidi, that a lot of this doesn’t involve you. So ignore it and stay out of it. Stay busy with your work. (The headphones someone else suggested might help). You might ask to have your workstation moved so you can concentrate better. I wouldn’t give any other reason, and nothing about him.

I would caution against going to management or HR about such things also.
You risk being seen as someone who can’t solve petty problems.
And, as an aside, that is true even if it was sexual harassment…sure the guy might get fired in those cases, but the woman rarely succeeds in the long run, and often finds herself redundant on the RIF list. Managers view that sort of thing as a potential problem. Even women managers. I have never seen a case of sexual harassment filed where the woman came out well in the long run. You need to learn to solve these things yourself, and learn how not to be a victim.
You might look for a successful woman in your workplace and ask if she would unofficially mentor you.

You need to resolve this, and not by talking to him. You don’t need to write your boundaries or tell them to him (Please don’t do that…you’re playing his game!). That’s farcical if you don’t enforce them. And you don’t, and he knows that. So don’t bother saying what they are, just set and enforce them for yourself…by ignoring him, staying busy and not engaging. He’s playing you and you’re letting him. He wins when you engage. So disengage. That means stop with the responses to him. If he taunts you, don’t take the bait by telling him his comments are inappropriate. Just don’t say ANYTHING, and focus on your work.

You sound a tad like you are attracted to this guy. If that is the case, you need to take some steps to disengage from that too.

How about you turn to him, smile sweetly, and say: “That you look bad whenever you stand too close to anyone who is here to get work done is my problem…how?” Then smile, walk off, and go back to work. No one in management is going to make that interchange your fault.

When he bothers you, your response is, “Jerry, don’t you have work to do? Because I have work to do. I’m sure Sally (your supervisor) can give you something to do, if you’ve run out.” I think he’ll start leaving you alone.

When he says, “You gotta laugh in life,” your stock answer becomes, “Yes, I laugh a lot–when I’m not on the clock. I checked my job description, and comedy is not in there. You might want to check yours.” It is not as if you’re afraid of losing this guy as a friend, after all!

What you want is to earn either a) the permanent position or b) a very good letter of recommendation. Worry about that, and work and talk if as if the supervisor were in the room, or as if you were under video surveillance. Who knows? Maybe you are!


After talking with a trusted friend this afternoon, I agree I will not go to HR. I will just walk away and use the broken record approach ‘Please don’t disturb me, I am working’

I will be honest here. I am not attracted romantically to this guy at all. However, starring at a computer screen gets lonely and when I want to have a bit of social talk for 5 minutes, he is the only person who will drop his work and do social talk. It doesn’t matter who it is, all he does is talk all day.

Other people just prefer to work or are just unpleasant to do chit chat with. Which is why when I feel like talking I go to him


EJ as much as those might be an efficient tactics, I would NEVER be able to pull them off with out getting all frustrated and that will just make him smile from ear to ear and get a chuckle at my frustration

just one other thought. In Canada, there is a trend where most organization are adopting a policy where it is forbidden to give references to an outside company. I will probably never get a reference no matter how good I am because no manager would risk their job by going against company policy

Not even to people being downsized? Amazing.

Just imagine that you know a video camera is going, and he doesn’t. That ought to help you a) always do the right thing and b) ignore him and just work.

Nope and the most hypocritical thing about it is that the companies who forbid their employees from giving references will never hire anyone without them providing at least 2 refrences:rolleyes:

well, I just did something that might get me into an uncomfortable situation Monday. We had connected via linked in. I just ‘unfriended’ him.

Just curious, but those anyone know if he will be sent an email telling him we are no longer connected? Or will he only find out when he checks his connections

Please take the following as “Constructive Criticism”
I am one of the Senior Projects Chemists in my company… sort of a supervisor without being a supervisor and dealing with personnel interactions is part of what we do on a daily basis - trying to keep our teams on task, do our tasks, and keep intra/inter-team interactions productive.

So I am really trying to help you here…

IMHO: There’s a lot more going on here that either you are not aware of, or that you are not sharing with us and that makes it difficult to offer anything really substantial as for how to deal directly with “Dude”

However, I can do this - a very simple role play:

Pretend that you were my direct under, and we were to sit down in my office and we were able to go over what you have said above this is where I would start by trying get you to take a look at what is happening from a “bird’s eye view:”

Angel, trying to take all of your posts as an aggregate, with bias to the most recent posts, You give me the impression that you are really expecting too much here from everyone you are working with… you want to be social only on your terms. This is not only unfair to your co-workers but is also unfair to you in that this has created a hostile work environment for all involved.
From where do I get this?

  • On your right hand, you tell us, I don’t want to be socially involved with Dude. You try to give the impression that all you want to be is there for work for work’s sake and for no other reason…

  • Then, from your left hand, you let drop that you get lonely at work and need a little social interaction and you feel that everyone except this one person is a twit. In fact citing that your other coworkers are twits because they just seem to want to work when want to chat - or are offish with you when they do decide to interact with you.

  • Dude seems to have mainly positive, although not always productive, interactions with the remaining office staff, including what you cite is a close office friend. From your description he appears to be a fairly extroverted personality and someone that takes a de facto leadership role in team efforts/projects.

Now, look at the above objectively, especially the second point (how are other perceiving you? You complain about an act in others and then engage in the same act yourself ) - keeping in mind that I only have your side of the office dynamic…

There needs to be a middle point with the social interaction and as I have only one side, I can only offer the generic advice I gave you earlier… to politely walk away when you are busy with work saying that if you have time you’ll get back with him later. Otherwise, as you want that 5 minutes of social interaction here and there, be willing to give those 5 minutes back too - you cannot have this on just your terms.

Now mind you in the real world, with me handling this, Dude and I would have a little chat behind closed doors along with several other more informal chats with your coworkers

just a side note:
As for the non-productive moments with Dude, if your office is anything like my lab, supervision is well aware of the situation and may be more aware of what is going on between you, Dude, and the other office staff than you think - just that either company policy or legal policy hasn’t been violated.

I realize that and I genuinely thank you

I must not be aware because I am unsure what information you are lacking to help me.

I 100% percent agree with you, hence the title in my post ‘I fell for it again’. Trust me, I would be happier than a pig in mud if I could find some other way of dealing with my office loneliness or if I could feel about him the same I feel about others in the sense that a 3 minute chit chat would not get me emotionally charged.

I agree he has positive qualities. However, his ‘de facto leadership role’ would be more accurately be described as him always wanting his agenda and having learnt extremely good manipulation skills to get his way by intimidating others. Once I had and idea and he vocally told me I was being unreasonable. I continued doing things my way and within 10 minutes he saw how great it was and went into a managers office showing her ‘his’ great idea

Anytime a manager has pulled me and said 'when you make this comment (and it is more a social comment and not a work related issue) you offend Joe, I have always said 'thank you for letting me know I will do my best to stop. If I say something to offend him, I would gladly stop. However, he has no assertiveness skills to tell me.

First of all, I am very well aware that management has an opinion of me that I am not aware of. It must be positive since they extended my contract. They obviously have a positive opinion of him as well since they extended his contract as well. The third guy, I don’t know if they extend him or not. However, I seriously doubt they know how unproductive he is. When a man spends over 45 minutes a day flinging elastics at another girl for 2 weeks and the only thing that got them to stop was missing each other, hitting me and me telling them that if it meant that much to them to fling elastics, they will have to go and do that in the cafeteria because the next elastic they fling I will go to HR, I doubt they know what he is up to.

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