Very very strange coworker

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2010
Very very strange coworker
6
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 10:04am

I need advice on how to handle this situation. I work with a very strange man. He is in his 60s and set in his ways. Well mostly. I cant figure him out and he is making me miserable. My stomach hurts and I am losing sleep. Its been going on and off for over 10 years now.

He makes insinuating comments that border on inappropriate. I am a runner and injured my leg a while back. He walked into work one day and asked the small talk question 'how are you doing?' I told him my leg hurt. His response was "too much running, cycling or rough sex?'. I ignored that one. He teases me about my clothes (I wear conservative office clothes). He teases my kid who once visited my job (she is special needs). He once lectured me on the rules about drinking before work, even though I have told him many times throughout the past 10 years that I do not drink. He once lectured me on how many sheets of scrap paper to use and said that I should use his left over written on sheets to save the company money. I think I use 1 sheet per day, maybe less. He once lectured me on what types of books I should read. I was reading self help books. He said I was mentally fit and did not need self help books. He tries to take over every project I do. He does all this on the pretense of being helpful or a friend or kidding. He doesnt understand the fine line between being helpful and being annoying or stepping on toes.

This all seems to go in cycles. He gets annoying and I confront him. He gets better but then months go by and he is back to his old ways. I am sick of the whole thing. I dont think he has much experience working with women. In my field there are very few women. My field is 75% white men. I think he feels threatened by a younger female who can do the job as well as he does. And i think thats why he puts me down often.

I need help and advice on how to handle this.

Thanks

Laurie

Avatar for lizmvr
Community Leader
Registered: 06-06-2001
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 12:40pm

I would ignore him as much as possible and really not contribute to conversations about anything other than work. If he asks you how you are doing, just say something along the lines of "fine." Don't elaborate and give him any room to start making inappropriate comments. If he tries to lengthen conversations, excuse yourself telling him that you have to get back to work, and walk away. If he comes over to your desk or work area and tries to start talking about non-work issues, keep your back toward him and remind him that you have work on which you need to focus.

You don't need to confront him to teach him how to discuss work related issues with you. Just use your actions to your benefit.

Liz


Clinical Research Associate


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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2002
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 5:49pm

This has been going on on and off for 10 years, makes you physically ill, and you have not spoken to your boss (or HR) about the situation?  You need to start documenting each uncomfortable encounter with this man (does anyone else hear what he says to you, or does he make sure to do it when no one is around?)  It does not matter that he's not *used* to working with women because you work in a male-dominated field (I do as well).  You are putting up with his inappropriate behaviour, so of course he's not giong to change it!  You need to put on your big girl panties and stand up for yourself, especially in the field you are working in no one is going to stand up for you.  You obviously did something right to get where you are, and I would not be suprised if this guy is threatened by you.  Do not, under any circumstances, give him any personal information he can use against you, keep all your conversations professional, and if he ever says anything to you that is inappropriate, call him out on it right there and then. 

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

.  -Albert Einstein

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2010
Sun, 04-07-2013 - 6:51am
I think the ignore idea is the best. I need to find a simple canned statement to give him when he makes inappropriate comments. My sister said she uses 'that comment was too juvenile to warrant a response'. I often find myself in amazement that he said something so stupid that I cant think of a rapid response. In other words my jaw has dropped and I cant talk. Unfortunately we work in a small open space with no partitions and cant totally ignore each other. Its a team work thing. Plus due to the nature of our job we cant leave or walk away. So I need to find a way to ignore his stupid inappropriate stuff while still working with him. Ugh. Laurie
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2010
Sun, 04-07-2013 - 6:54am
Thanks so much. Yes it does need to stop now. I did once go to the boss about him. And I will do it again if I have to. This man is very very unprofessional and very immature for his age. I think we all notice it but we all turn our backs on it. Fortunately for the rest of us we mostly work alone and only spend a few hours each shift with a coworker. Laurie
Avatar for lizmvr
Community Leader
Registered: 06-06-2001
Mon, 04-08-2013 - 7:15pm

Dear Dontwalkrun,

Itchick does give good advice.

While I'm partial to ignoring the guy and I think you're on the right track by coming up with a canned response to dissuade him from any further discussion, i would caution you to stay away from saying that he's immature or acting immaturely. I just don't want him to have any ammunition against you should he want to complain, especially if you do go to your boss or HR. That's why I think just telling him that you have work to do and can't chat might be better than even responding to any topic he mentions. You almost want to seem that you didn't hear and don't care about what he mentioned if it's not about work. If you keep saying your focus is on work, your boss and HR won't be able to find any issues on your side--they want you to focus on work.

Whatever way you choose to deal with this situation and this coworker, keep your own job safe! Good luck!

Liz


Clinical Research Associate


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http://www.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2010
Wed, 04-10-2013 - 7:15pm
Good Point. Thanks for bringing that up. Yes I want him to know that I am not interested in any conversation with him that does not involve work.