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'Friend' insulted me in front of work colleagues- do I confront her?

(44 Posts)
Friendinneed13 Sat 20-Jul-13 14:53:57

Hi All,

I'd appreciate some advice pls! smile

I'm currently working on a project which involves working with a large team of opertaional staffn I don't manage them, but have become close to them as I have to gather requirements design new process etcetc

I get on with the team very well and they invite me to all nights out etc as I fit in well with the group- my colleague on the other hand does not...

She's rather prissy and condeseding at times, dominates conversations, can really labour a point and is a bit 'full on' for most of the group. I think she is pissed off that the team have warmed to me more than her

I have been a good friend to my colleague helping her through personal problems loaning her money etc- and she knows that I had a terrible breakup recently and my confidence is low.

Thrusday the team went for a drink to the local pub everyone was invited, my friend came along, so we were all sitting in a group my friend says....

'Oh I think Tom fancies you and you defintely fancy him youre always flirting with him! You need a vibrator ill take you shopping for one!' Someone else then says maybe Tracy (friend) can help you out- Tracy then says ' no way she would suffocate me with those big things (my boobs)'

Now I have got large breasts, not freakisly so, but I'm busty, the group we are with is mainly male under 30, so no doubt they have noticed, but I always dress to play them down, and never flaunt my bust at work.

So now I feel I've been turned into a sex object by a female colleague, who has said that I'm not getting any sex, obviously flirt with male collegaues, need a vibrator and have huge boobs! I suppose you could say that a few of the guys have a soft spot for me ( I have a pulse!) But now I feel really self concious even talking to any guy, in case people think I'm flirting!

Its really uspet me, I feel humilated and labelled- even though I split up from my partner over a year ago and haven't been with anyone since! Do I talk to her or just get over it??

Friendinneed13 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:04:44

Thank you all so much for your advice!

Firstly, it was my colleague/friend Tracy who made these comments about the vibrator my boobs etc, another woman joined in just to say she could show me which to buy,( as they know I'm quite shy etc)- there were some junior male staff there- the women are in senior posts including me- and the guys faces where a picture- they actually looked really embarrassed by it.

It was someones leaving do, so people had had a few drinks, I wouldn't say I socialise with them a lot, maybe once a month for a couple of drinks- its team buliding if anything.

I just came away feeling really upset, I was really quite for the rest of the night, a few people asked me if I was ok as I was so quite, I had to go outside a few times as I was close to tears - stupid I know- and not like me.

I've worked really hard to get where I am in my career in a senior project post were people have to listen to my opnion and respect what I have to say, I have had to battle against the busty blonde thing the whole time. I conciously cover up my clevage etc and don't 'dress up' for work- I wear very functional corporate clothes etc trouser suits most of the time.

A few years ago I was featured in a project newsletter and my boss at the time who I thought was a left wing, pc type of guy, said to me' Is it page three you are on?' I couldn't believe it, but to me thrusday was worst as it was in front of everyone.

Tracy can be quite bullish and insenstive, but I thought we were friends I can believe she said it tbh, why can't women support each other in the workplace? I'm dreading monday now sad

Ulysses Sun 21-Jul-13 11:12:33

It sounds like crude office banter when everyones had a bit too much to drink. Sympathies to you, but I'm sure it will all be forgotten about come Monday. Keep your head held high. Doesn't seem to be too much of a friend you've got there so keep your distance. Defo not an HR issue though.

edam Sun 21-Jul-13 11:23:02

It's not stupid to be upset by these horrible personal comments. You have every right to feel hurt. Some people would brush it off, some people would be distressed - that's the risk someone takes when they make horrible comments at work.

You can report her as it is inappropriate behaviour - many workplaces do not tolerate this kind of 'joke'. Doesn't matter it was outside work, it was a conversation between colleagues.

Or you could decide to have a quiet word with her where you say firmly 'I don't appreciate your unprofessional, sexual comments. I am not inclined to make a formal complaint this time but if you ever make such comments again, I will'. Then if she tries to justify herself or tell you you are uptight or making a fuss, just say 'I am not interested in any attempt to justify what you said. It was unprofessional and the only response I want to hear is an apology.' Don't get into a conversation, just repeat 'It was unprofessional.' Practise saying it in front of a mirror - that can help, seriously.

FWIW in my department there is plenty of sexually loaded banter, usually insulting each other - but the people who make these kind of remarks target each other, not anyone who would be upset or offended. They are all close friends outside work. So it's OK - no-one is using them to belittle anyone who isn't in on the joke, if you know what I mean, or targetting anyone who would feel uncomfortable. Many workplaces would not allow this kind of thing at all, however.

Upnotdown Sun 21-Jul-13 11:27:07

I'd re-think your team building procedures - sitting in the pub having Jim Davidson-esque conversations is not going to do anything for team morale.

I think you're being overly sensitive BUT I've had similar experiences that have stayed with me for years (one of which,roles reversed - out with college lecturers and students celebrating the end of term - lecturers were talking about relationships with students and to make the point of these relationships being allowed, lecturer shouts "Put it this way, if I wanted to bend Upnotdown over and fuck her up the arse, there's not a thing the college could do about it" - nice eh? I was 24.)

As the person in a senior position, I think you should have made an excuse to not be at that table when the conversation looked like it was heading in that direction. I would be mortified to hear a senior colleague involved in a conversation like that (but not because someone pointed out that she had a big chest). I don't think they don't talk that way, but I would not feel comfortable witnessing it.

Page 3 boss just sounds like an arsehole.

antimatter Sun 21-Jul-13 11:27:40

no mater sex of the person who said it to me it would be sexual harassment
I would warn her that I would report her if she ever dares to speak to me again like that smile

cantreachmytoes Sun 21-Jul-13 11:35:47

I had exactly the same situation happen to me a few times to (well, more than a few). I'm also blonde and pre breast reduction busty too.

I agree she's showing herself up, but it is an AWFUL feeling to be humiliated like that in public, especially by a woman as men don't usually step in to tell the other woman she's out of line (but more likely to if it was a guy saying that).

I don't know about the HR side, but agree with PPs that she'll continue. I think I would do my best to totally ignore her from now on, other than necessary work interaction. If you're out for drinks, don't sit next to her, or near her (although in my case, this did result in someone literally shouting those comments across a busy room shock). Essentially disengage. She's not a friend, don't treat her as one.

I would keep a dignified silence and literally ignore her if she starts making comments again. Do have some nifty one-liners up your sleeve, together with a laugh and withering look, so you can put her in her place. "Wow, I'm sure that came out the wrong way [laughter], you didn't mean to sound so nasty" and the like. In fact, you should ask Mumsnetters for some, there are some really brilliant ones floating around here. As long as you say them with a smile and then carry on as though nothing happened ie carry on with your conversation, you won't look bad, but she'll have received the message.

I'm not suggesting you need, or should have, a breast reduction at all, but this sort of situation brings back a lot of not so nice memories of jealous, immature women.

Roshbegosh Sun 21-Jul-13 11:47:33

I am sure HR have more to do than deal with something said by a bunch of half pissed people in the pub. If you choose not to have boundaries so you can all get pissed together then these things can happen. HR would roll their eyes at this. You would come off looking the worse, not your bitchy friend.

Friendinneed13 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:54:36

She wasn't drinking, I'd had one so hardly pissed, but I get your point.

I wouldn't report to HR but I might have it out with her tomorrow... Friends my arse!

Friendinneed13 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:56:43

She wasn't drinking, I'd had one so hardly pissed, but I get your point.

I wouldn't report to HR but I might have it out with her tomorrow... Friends my arse!

BetterToLaugh Sun 21-Jul-13 11:58:05

What an immature loser. I would feel upset if I was you. She is obviously jelous of you. You say you're shy so this might not work for you, but if I find someone overbearing and irritating I avoid them and if they ask what's wrong I tell them sorry, you just do my head in.lol

MaBumble Sun 21-Jul-13 12:16:32

I totally get where you are coming from , and understand why you are so upset.
Comments like this when socialising with male and female work colleagues are designed to undermine. She's more than jealous, your smart, successful and attractive. I bet she chews her pillow in envy at night.
If you have a colleague you trust, confide in them. You can approach HR and ask for advice. Tell them you neef to talk to someone confidentially , and you do not want any action taken, as it may make the situation more. But you would appreciate some pointers.

If it happens again - smile, tilt head to one side and say 'Ohh, not really appropriate for work nights out that, better keep those comments for you boozy girls nights out' or it'll be double diversity training for you!' And laugh. Then lean forward, pat her hand and mock whisper ' Don't worry, you'll get the hang of this being professional stuff soon. I'm sure'

ProphetOfDoom Sun 21-Jul-13 12:41:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

edam Sun 21-Jul-13 12:48:42

Rosebegosh 'I am sure HR have more to do than deal with..' - do you work in HR? Clearly not. So why do you imagine you are entitled to make sweeping statements that dismiss the OP?

SugarPasteGreyhound Sun 21-Jul-13 13:46:33

Little point in involving HR at this point; probably more effective to take her aside tomorrow and very politely point out that her comments were offensive, hurtful and completely inappropriate. Tell her that if she ever does anything like that again you will make a formal complain about her behaviour.

Then walk away and don't engage with her again. Be absolutely professional with her but nothing more - she isn't a friend so don't treat her like one.

Lighthousekeeping Sun 21-Jul-13 13:55:11

Were you all drinking? Was she a friend before you met the new work crowd? If she was I would have said something there and then. I wouldn't bother now and I woul try to forget it. No one will remember by Monday.

Roshbegosh Sun 21-Jul-13 14:05:59

I am not dismissing her edam I just think you have to consider the context. Why would HR be interested in silly tittle tattle about a vibrator in the pub? If OP as team leader had said the inappropriate comment to a junior colleague I admit it would be totally different but the OP is the team leader so would look foolish running to HR with this. Don't go out drinking with your team if you can't cope with the boundaries being breached.

LadyMilfordHaven Sun 21-Jul-13 16:01:12

oh ffs dont say did you mean to be so rude

make you sound like a priggish twat

Friendinneed13 Sun 21-Jul-13 17:17:05

Thank you everyone for your kind advice, I will speak to my colleague tommorrow and tell her I was her by her comments....

LadyMilford- Okkkkkkkk thanks for that! smile

Friendinneed13 Sun 21-Jul-13 17:18:22

Hurt by her comments- doh! smile

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