to think this is a double standard?

(54 Posts)

People at work actively berate me for being 'posh'.

I am probably middle class but have just left uni and am living independently on the lowest salary in this place (16k).

They say things to me like 'you got a plum in your mouth?' and 'saw you on Britains Got Talent on the weekend' (ref 'Lettice' with the violin). Sometimes I am on the phone to a customer and they mimick me, 'oh loooooveeely, thaaaank you' in a really shrill, Queens English accent. makes me feel like fucking shit.

If I had to give you a voice twin, it would be someone like Holly Willoughby. Certainly not as well pronounced as BBC types.

It can be a bit playground actually and they group up and do it together and I feel myself getting hot and angry and defensive (tho not saying anything ofcourse). I think I'm probably B a little U because I am sensitive to their jibes anyway (they are quite rude to me about my weight) and I know there are much bigger problems in the world but this has been going on for months and months.

what pisses me off though is imagining this going the other way. Would they dare to call someone common or compare them to people off the telly? 'Saw you on Benefits Street on the weekend'? I don't think they would. is it becoming a bad thing to not have a dialect? Do I need to lighten up?

You don't need to lighten up, this is bullying.

Do you feel confident enough to speak to a supervisor?

Cocolepew Wed 23-Apr-14 14:59:11

I agree, it is bullying , you should speak to someone.

Sadly there is no HR here. Started out as a entrepreneurial venture which has become very successful but still not a lot of staff and certainly no-one senior I would feel comfortable talking to...don't want to say too much without outing myself/company! But it's pretty much 'like it or lump it' here and I'm beginning to think I should probably lump it.

AlpacaYourThings Wed 23-Apr-14 15:00:19


Agree with SanDiego it's bullying. Please don't feel that you need to 'lighten up' They need to shut the fuck up

Thanks all for reassurance thanks felt like a wally being upset about it but it is nasty and it makes me feel like shit on their shoe.

No one in a senior position?

Start to look for other work, is that possible?

In the mean time , are you hard faced enough to answer them back and maintain a poker face?

Bullies are cowards, when they mock you again say in a very firm voice 'does it make you feel superior to mock me' or ' I find bullies are such arses, do you enjoy being such a twat', maintain a straight face.

It might not stop them but it might give you some power back.

Stay strong, you don't have to be there forever.

I did once totally ignore them when they started talking about skiing holidays and said to me 'bet you've been every year haven't you?'

think they felt a bit shock that I didn't melt into a defensive mess that time!

Diego there are people in senior positions but they'd laugh me out the door. would love to give more away if I could but it really would out me!

They are also sounding jealous, you've left university and are living on your own, is that right?

Remember you are a nicer, stronger person than these arses.

Keep a log of the verbal bullying and any other issues.

felinesad Wed 23-Apr-14 15:17:48

Oh grey I know how you feel. I had exactly the same thing where I used to work. Because I didn't speak with a Yorkshire accent (which is where I was originally from) they spread a rumour that I'd had elocution lessons because ' I was ashamed of where I'd come from and thought I was better than anyone else'. It was an allmale office.

It was horrible and nasty and yes it was bullying.

Wantsunshine Wed 23-Apr-14 15:24:10

They are bullying, really not nice. Just keep asking them how they managed to escape the workhouse and make comments about them being similar to people on the soaps depending on what area you are from. Or just say you prefer it to sounding common.

Diego live with my boyfriend of 3 years who is from VERY humble beginnings and out of work at the moment (made redundant) so money is horribly tight and they know this. I am sure they would love to think I am picked up by my butler and taken home to roam around in the fields that surround my manor house clad in a barbour gilet after work. I honestly cant think of why they might be jealous, but I would rather believe that than think they actually think badly of me.

feline it's horrid isn't it sad They even goad me by saying things like 'What is your brother's name?' I obviously have to reply and they then fall about laughing pronouncing it ridiculously. such dicks.

from my posts and the things they say you are probably all thinking I am called Hecuba and my brother Menelaus. In truth we are unbelievably normal people with even more normal names. my boyf (v difficult background, no money, DV in home etc) has a name you might normally associate with a pet dog (hippyish parents) yet even HE gets heat from this bunch of arseholes! (behind his back obv) angry

fluffyraggies Wed 23-Apr-14 15:26:23

Where are you OP? Purely out of interest.

IME in some places any London accent that's not typical East London, ie: 'raand the haases and daaan the stairs' is often though of as 'posh'. God knows why.

My advice would be to tell them how much it's upsetting you. Very frankly. Make them feel shitty and they'll stop. Hopefully.

Want I did actually ask one of them once 'would you ask someone why they sounded common as muck?' he weasled out of answering it. a colleague who has since left (citing bullying actually) backed me up at the time, bless her. no one else has ever backed me up or told the men who do it to stop.

Fluffy I live and work in Bucks so not like my well-spokenness is particularly out of place hmm (and I'm certainly not in the minority in the office - don't know why I bear the brunt of it. Maybe because I am younger or less likely to tell them where to shove it sad)

IceBeing Wed 23-Apr-14 15:31:49

How about keeping an actual notebook in which you write down these incidents of bullying? Whenever it happens, pop out the note book and write down what was said (do this instead of replying). If/when someone asks what you are doing say you are building your constructive dismissal case and they are being very helpful and to keep it up.

Haha Ice that would be brilliant. I will keep a log of it all, and attempt to grow the balls to say that!

I would ask them, "Do you mean to sound so bigoted? Are you happy to be bullies?" And give them a hard stare.

SlimJiminy Wed 23-Apr-14 15:34:17

I had this at a former workplace with people who hadn't been to uni. One bloke in particular had a massive chip on his shoulder about me and other graduates. I am NOT posh. I'm a northern lass, but my accent isn't as strong as his. I just used a few big words to make him feel silly and a few quick comebacks to his attention-seeking jibes. I made it clear that I wouldn't be putting up with it. Of course, it depends on your character and I do appreciate that not everyone feels able to/should have to deal with it in this way. FWIW, it says more about them than it does about you. Bullying is wrong whether in the playground or the workplace. If telling HR isn't an option, have a think about strategies for dealing with bullies that might work instead. Is there one colleague that you could get on-side? Someone who'll stick up for you? I know I would if you worked with me.

IceBeing Wed 23-Apr-14 15:34:20

and it has the advantage that you could really follow through on it if you want to. It might also carry more weight with the seniors....

Hoppinggreen Wed 23-Apr-14 15:35:37

as much as I want to tell you to fight back and tell them all the piss off if you do it could be seen as joining in with the " banter", which it sing it's bullying.
If I were in your position I would just ignore them, practise your icy " you are a piece of shit on my shoe" look and use it whenever they speak to you like this. I find that the phrase " if you say so" works quite well on arseholes like this.
If it makes you feel better you can even imagine yourself holding up a sign saying " fuck off" this is a visualisation technique someone taught me once.
The less this obviously bothers you the less fun it will be for them and hopefully they will stop.
You shouldn't have to it up with this crap but if there's no one you can speak to at work you might have to find a way of dealing with it or leave unfortunately.

UnicornSparkles Wed 23-Apr-14 15:39:21

Your company must have a grievance procedure - call the bullies out. It's not cool. You might be surprised that people in management will listen - I work in a start up and even though it's much less formal than a "proper" company these scenarios have to be accounted for and dealt with.

How long have you been there? Long enough to start looking for other jobs without it looking too bad on your CV?

fluffyraggies Wed 23-Apr-14 15:41:27

Blimey, yes, Bucks is hardly the bronx is it?! grin

I venture your accent is barely any 'posher' than their own and they are just using it as a stick to beat you with. How puerile. Don't worry about how you sound any more. It's not you - they're being twats. Don't rise to it.

How long have you worked there OP?

Unicorn will be a year in July so not too bad on my CV I don't think.

Hopping imaginary fuck off sign is brilliant. I have always been very calm and collected (outwardly) with them, perhaps if I am a little more transparent about how I don't like it it'll help.

Slim I would like to think there are people here that feel it is wrong. Trouble is they are not ones to upset any sort of balance or want to be particularly involved. Which makes me feel I guess even more crap!

Oh also Unicorn there is a grievance procedure AFAIK... Tho I think it'd be more worth my while leaving here altogether what with the shit storm it'd cause.

fluffyraggies Wed 23-Apr-14 15:46:53

I think a few bored sounding 'that's getting so old, can't you come up with anything else?' sort of comments might help?

'Yes, yes, hilarious, just as it has been every day for the last year'' - then ignore.

Treat them like the juveniles they obviously are - but don't get irritated or flustered, they'll love that - just be bored with it.

MaryWestmacott Wed 23-Apr-14 15:47:20

Sometimes playing up to it can work with this, it's no fun if you take the piss out of someone and they don't seem to mind even if inside you are screaming at them - so joke about going to the polo at the weekend, comment about skiing, tell them you were in ski school with Beatrice and Eugenie (but your mother thought htey were frightfully common) - call people darling and play up to it. They'll get bored soon.

Or just don't engage, but icy come backs and insults back will make them realise it bothers you. That is what they are trying to do, you don't have to get upset, they can tell you don't find it funny and that's the aim.

You are the most junior person there and just starting out, often first jobs come with a whole load of dealing with wankers until you've proven yourself.

I would keep looking for another job, it's a small company and you don't get on with the team, it's not really going to improve, just get bareable, that's fine while you get some experience, but keep looking for something else.

Good luck.

fluffyraggies Wed 23-Apr-14 15:48:34

I'd hate to think they'd succeed in pushing you out of the job sad


Icelollycraving Wed 23-Apr-14 15:56:46

If you did leave,a year as your first job is fine. I would also ask for an exit meeting to tell someone in authority you were considering a grievance. However you knew it wouldn't actually resolve the issue. Could you be making a case for constructive dismissal if the bullying is coming from a senior member? When the other person cited bullying as their reason for leaving,what happened?

The blokes doing it aren't any more senior than I am tbh. We're all part of a 'team'

I'm not entirely sure about the woman that left due to bullying. I think she just found another job, and made sure to let the management know exactly why she'd gone looking. I think I will likely end up doing the same!

MaryWestmacott Wed 23-Apr-14 16:06:38

If it helps, in my experience, small companies that have just started up and have a nasty habit of driving away talent, tend not to last long. I'd look for a new job based off the fact you are on a very low wage, in an area that is commutable to London, and aren't enjoying your job. There seems little going for this other than it pays the bills and gives you experence, both of which you can get elsewhere.

Its crap they are driving you out, but everyone needs one soul destroying job on their CV - trick is to get to the nicer one quickly!

AlpacaPicnic Wed 23-Apr-14 16:08:19

Could you trot out the mumsnet classic 'did you mean to be so rude?' but you must do it with the right attitude. Bored iciness is how I'd go.

I'd start keeping a tally. Five bar gate would work fine. Label it 'Pathetic comments about my life'

And refuse to engage with them for anything except work matters. So they would ask your brothers name for example, and you should pause for a few seconds and reply - 'do you mind, I'm trying to concentrate on this email/document/brain surgery right now'
Repeat until they get bored.

AlpacaPicnic Wed 23-Apr-14 16:11:25

Hmm, just reread your comment about them mocking you while on huge phone to a customer... Could 'a customer' make a complaint about the noise in the background of the phone call, or even better if they heard what was being said and complained about that. What if the customer thought that they were being mocked?
I'll happily be an irate customer for you, as long as I don't have to buy a fancy car or a house or summat expensive

AlpacaPicnic Wed 23-Apr-14 16:11:59

Sorry - a rogue 'huge' crept into that post... Ignore!

Ridersofthestorm Wed 23-Apr-14 16:13:06

I get my accent taken the piss out of all the time...and I am anything but posh. I try and give as good as i get back tbh.
I work with someone who speaks very very well, I think its lovely and I am secretly jealous and if not a bit enamoured by how well he talks.
I take the piss out him sometimes as does he over my funny accent which I am very proud of despite the piss taking. I wouldn't like being ganged up on though and everyone making fun of me, that must be upsetting.
Just give as good as you get, let them know it's upsetting you and if that doesn't work tell your manager to have a word.

AreWeThereYeti Wed 23-Apr-14 16:25:51

Have you tried directly telling them that you don't like being teased about it and would like them to stop. I know it's not always easy to do though.

No apologies or explanations just a simple 'can you please stop teasing me about my accent. I don't like it and I want you to stop'

You could consider putting it in an email although I don't know if that would be a good plan or not.

wowfudge Wed 23-Apr-14 16:33:58

OP - this is definitely bullying as many other posters have said. Please don't lower yourself to their level by making comments back to them: yes to stand up to them, but don't comment on their accents and backgrounds.

JMFAO Wed 23-Apr-14 16:39:20

it's bullying, they will call it male banter, if you rant they will become worse so stay cool.

I would yawn theatrically or let out a loud 'boorrrring'. If you can manage a cool and wry "well I saw you on Embarrassing Bodies, such a shame they couldn't help get you're head out from up your arse" (maybe follow up with "I hear they are changing it to 'inadequate penises' after you were on the show'). Or a good old fashioned "I'm sorry I can't tell what you're saying while you've got you're head up your arse". Or some comeback about tiny testicles or from all the attention they must fancy you, or jokingly threaten telling their wives how they treat you (stern eyebrow raise). Or just say "does X (boss) know he's paying you to take the piss out of me while you should be working?" might stop it.

I agree - keep a log of everything as and when it happens, right in front of them.
When they ask what you are doing, tell them.
It must be horrible.

Undercurrent Wed 23-Apr-14 16:50:40

They sound like idiots - don't know when a joke is no longer funny.
You could maybe try "were you also bully at school?" - with a genuinely interested look on your face. Maybe they don't realise they've gone past the 'banter' stage.

JMFAO Wed 23-Apr-14 16:54:22

oh yes definitely keep a record of it all.

alpaca I like your thinking but I couldn't guarantee the bastard banshees would do it on any particular phone call. it's not often i take customer calls (overspill when customer service is busy), but definitely appreciate the offer.

Yeti I haven't directly asked them to stop but I have sort of rebuffed them with trying to make them aware of what they are saying...I think because I don't do it with any kind of temper or obvious mood they think I am just a bit precious (I'm really not)

fudge I would never comment on their accent/background, and never have done, especially as i know just as little about theirs as they do mine!

JMFAO What I would give to use the Embarrassing Bodies line. Sadly I don't think it'd help my case. Maybe once I've handed in my notice grin

Emmaroos Wed 23-Apr-14 16:57:24

YANBU, but you also have a responsibility to establish clearly that you do not find this 'amusing' or consider it to be 'friendly workplace banter' before you escalate it.
If I were you I would calmly say to anyone who raises the topic that personal comments about your accent make you feel uncomfortable and that they don't have any place in the professional workplace. If you have an interest in being friendly with these people I would take them aside 1:1 and would emphasise that you know they are joking but their comments make you feel self-conscious and isolated which you are sure is not their intention; if you past wanting to be friendly then say it in front of witnesses (or via email) and let them know you are telling them so that if the comments reoccur they will not be surprised when you escalate the matter.
Hurtful personal comments are not acceptable in the workplace, and of course they shouldn't need to be told. However, the line between professional and friendly relationships can be a bit blurred when it comes to colleagues, especially in smaller workplaces, so you need to clarify your boundaries in a way that is unambiguous and fair to your colleagues even (especially?) if they are idiots.

Emma I agree re: making my point clear. I was very very firm with one of them when he made a comment about my weight. I said 'that was really hurtful'. He said 'I didn't mean it to be', never apologised (tho apparently he said to another colleague how bad he felt...when I wasn't there...could have shoved his pride up his arse frankly)

so they do know that I have felt hurt by them in the past. I don't think I should have to explicitly tell them every time they make a knobbish comment especially as I'm NOT precious and most peoples 'banter' that's directed at me i find a) funny and b) usually true (but that is friends, family, partner). When it happens again, I absolutely will say something, but I will try and keep it light whilst making it clear that I don't like it. if that makes sense.

Pheonixisrising Wed 23-Apr-14 17:07:56

do exactly what emmaroos said and keep a log
do not walk away from this job because of these idiots. you worked hard for you degree and you have a job because of it

SarcyMare Wed 23-Apr-14 17:18:17

"i didn't mean it to be" is an apology, aplogies don't have to include the word sorry, just an admission that the intent wasn't to upset you.
So you have done it once do it again about the accent.

oldgrandmama Wed 23-Apr-14 17:19:24

Oh, I used to live in Bucks. I have a 'Roedean' accent (no, I didn't go to Roedean - strictly state schools). And I'd get teased about how I spoke, so I'd roll my eyes and say, in a (bad) Cockney voice 'You ain't heard nuffink yet - I can do the Queen ...' and then mimic the usual 'My husband and I ...' routine.

Not saying it's what you should do. I was middle aged at the time, so more practised in dealing with teasing.

Best not to defend yourself ever, if being accused of poshness.

I just play up to it, and make jokes about Waitrose myself, to preempt any jokes (though really I shop at Lidl!)

They'll get bored with it.

It shows them up for being immature and insecure. Ignore it, or if you feel feisty, live up to the stereotype (if I was ever asked to make tea, I would say;" sorry but I don't know how, we have staff who that for us normally" with a smile, …and the actually not doing it)

Objection Wed 23-Apr-14 17:27:54

People do this to me A LOT. If they keep doing it reply "I'd rather sound posh than common" and smile

I always bang on about my latest bargain at Aldi and sit here rolling my cheapo fags. I might sound posh but I am so not!

Oh yes Fiscal that's another favourite actually.

Was making smalltalk with another colleague about taking my dog to the vet.
'Don't you have a butler to do it for you?'

hmm tosser. Not only does it interrupt conversations whilst I get flushed and try and defend myself, it is just so unnecessary (btw this man is in his thirties, nearly ten years older than me.)

ironically whilst I have sat here writing all this me and said colleague have had quite a good laugh this afternoon. Shame he'll probably be lambasting me mercilessly this time tomorrow!

Well this is just it Objection and I guess my wider question on it all is when did people with no dialect, just normal, RP English accents, become unusual or at least unusually 'posh'?

And colleague never did give me an answer when I asked if he would be quite so mocking of someone that was 'common'. To me it is a bit like people being outraged at calling someone fat, yet thinking it is fine to go around telling people they are 'soooo thin' - equally shitty IMO

My DH gets lots of comments about his "poshness" too. He's a teacher at a comp. He fears one day he may just retaliate with comments about other teachers' commonness… hope that day won't come!

Emmaroos Wed 23-Apr-14 18:04:27

It seems that when you have been clear that a topic is hurtful and off limits it doesn't reoccur. Should you have to? No, probably not, but people have different ideas of what is acceptable/funny/friendly etc. I don't agree with other suggestions that you play along or laugh it off, and I think it is unreasonable to complain to 3rd parties if you haven't been clear with the people involved. Don't play the victim. If it is affecting you enough to discuss it here, then the first step for any assertive, sensible, grown-up is to clearly state that you want it to stop. After you have done that unambiguously, then you can be clear whether people have been tactless and insensitive (as with the man who commented on your weight) or are intentionally bullying you in which case you should take action.

Pinkynotperky Wed 23-Apr-14 19:24:43

I live in Bucks I'm from Oxfordshire though... People think my oxford accent is posh! Never knew I had an accent...!

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