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Shouted at during work meeting

(114 Posts)
Gryffindor Wed 06-Nov-13 20:51:25

I have just returned to work after 8 weeks off (fell ill on holiday - very genuine, work provided with certificates, accompanying GP letters etc).

I work in a very stressful environment, think male-dominated, high-pressure, long hours etc. On my first day back I joined an audio call with 5 colleagues from across my organisation who sit in different teams. One man, who I have had some issues with in the past (he can be very intimidating, and has said work-related things that he later denies) shouted at me after about 30 seconds and said:

"Shut up Gryffindor, you are really annoying me".

Unfotunately, this is nothing unusual, but after being ill and also out of the work mentality for 2 months it has really upset me. I hadn't even said anything controversial, I had literally just started talking. Unfortunately, I work in an unpopular function which is often villified for "hindering business".

My direct boss is lovely and supportive, but despite being a huge household name organisation there is literally no support in place for people (particularly senior men) to be accountable for their actions. Far from being an isolated incident, this kind of thing happens all the time, I just feel as though my armour has been chinked and I'm struggling to move on. AIBU to be upset?

Conversely, if women behave in anything other than a demure manner we are criticised for being "agressive" and recommended to have training in influencing and communicating. Total double standards.

Sorry, this is a total rambling mess but even writing it out is helping me feel better.

aquashiv Wed 06-Nov-13 20:53:35

How did you respond?

Gryffindor Wed 06-Nov-13 20:57:09

I was shocked into silence (which was presumably the intention) but did manage to mutter something about resenting being called onto a meeting that was a total waste of time.

I am generally good at standing up for myself at work, but I'm still not 100% health wise and am still building up my office vocabulary again! I told my boss who made the right noises but these men will never be challenged so the culture remains the same.

There have been shocking incidents in the past, with him and also other men. I just had my defences more built up!

Mumsyblouse Wed 06-Nov-13 21:02:01

The first starting point is to keep a log- write down what he said exactly and the date time, who else was present. You have told your manager, so unless you want to take it further at this time, then just note it down. I would give the person one more chance and then report higher up but I have no tolerance whatsoever for being talked to disrespectfully or shouted at and would hate to work in your environment.

Mylovelyboy Wed 06-Nov-13 21:02:03

Firstly hope you feel better soon. I used to work in the city of london for 27 years. I know you dont feel well but i would have confronted the bastard after the meeting. Once these types know you are no push over (and im well sure you are not) he wont do it again. In these environments you have to give as good as you get. I used to and it gets you the respect you deserve. All the best.

Mylovelyboy Wed 06-Nov-13 21:07:29

Mumsyblouse i know your intentions are well given. In these environments you dont do all the log writing and reporting stuff and telling silly managers. You face the person and tell them face to face what's what. Get them in a private office and have it out. It works believe me. All this reporting stuff to managers and taking logs makes you look like a complete weed. I was a broker for years, you have to stand up to these twats yourself. Im sure the OP can handle herself well.

Financeprincess Wed 06-Nov-13 21:13:41

I'm with mylovelyboy on this one. Nobody likes being shouted at, but truthfully, the best response in environments like yours is to develop a thicker skin and show people that you won't be messed with. Also, is it possible that you were being just a little annoying if you're completely honest?

I'm sorry that you're upset, and I agree you're probably more so because you've been ill, which I'm also sorry about. However, having worked in 'robust' environments, I'd counsel against going down the road of writing it all down/building a case/acting like a victim. Better to stand up for yourself, plus the whole 'building a case' thing rather smacks of petty revenge to me - you know, this person has offended me and so he/she must be made to pay. These things can get out of hand quickly; do you want to destroy your colleague's career over this, particularly if that sort of behaviour is common practice? Try to move on, if you can. Good luck.

Viviennemary Wed 06-Nov-13 21:18:38

If you are in a trade union then you should have a word with them. This is bullying in the workplace and is just simply not acceptable. I'd tell your boss you were not happy and will be recording the incident in writing and giving it to him. I know what people mean about not complaining and becoming a victim. But on the other hand if you let this go then there might well be another incident. And another and another.

pianodoodle Wed 06-Nov-13 21:22:21

What a shit pot. Horrible being caught off guard like that as well and especially on your first day back.

I don't have much experience of this kind of environment but if he wants to shout maybe treat him like you would a toddler.

If it happens again jump straight in with a firm (non shouty) tone and slow every word right down. "Don' to me like that again"

Might be useless advice but I can hear my mum's tone of voice (menacing) when she did it and it's still scary now!

Interestingly she never shouted or smacked. The tone was always enough.

It doesn't sound like the place where logging and reporting is going to get you far but I'd make a note of it all the same.

ZangelbertBingeldac Wed 06-Nov-13 21:23:20

You mention your boss, but not your HR dept. I'm wondering if you actually work in the HR department? (well, I wondered that when you said you worked in an unpopular function).

pianodoodle Wed 06-Nov-13 21:24:41

It is bullying though. I just sense that in this type of environment going via usual routes might lead to more? If it's the case that the people you'd have to complain to would all be as thick as theives with the ones doing the bullying, that is.

Mylovelyboy Wed 06-Nov-13 21:25:08

Viviennemary, I dont think its bullying. Its the way some environments are. Some are aggressive and you have to have a thick skin. Most of these companies don't have things like Trade Unions. She just needs to have it out with the prick concerned and that's it. No point in doing all the reporting stuff and it all spiralling out of control. I'm telling you he will be nice as pie after. Well he would if I got him in the office grin. The OP does not feel well so is probably not on top form for a ruck.

MadsMikkelsensCheekbones Wed 06-Nov-13 21:28:39

Hi OP, this sounds shocking to me, and am sorry that you have has to face that especially given you just went back to work.
Can you say who you work for? I work for a global energy company and we have a very strong diversity and inclusiveness policy. This would not be tolerated given our companies business principles that staff are told to adhere to...(realising this May not always be the case...)
I would log such events and begin to flag to you work in HR yourself ?

damejudydench Wed 06-Nov-13 21:29:46

Are you in HR?

I'm a PA and have been on the receiving end of this sort of crap plenty of times.

Yes, you are definitely entitled to be upset but I would have called him on it on the call so everyone could hear. I am normally quietly assertive but I will give an alpha male a slap if they need it. I've previously told a Chairman and a Chief Executive off before now. It is risky but it works for me. My boss says that everyone knows not to mess me about. wink

If you're friendly and helpful the rest of the time they're hardly going to call you a hard faced bitch.

Best of luck!

Pilgit Wed 06-Nov-13 21:29:50

Totally unprofessional behaviour from him. I am in a similar support function in a big household name and have had similar business stopping accusations but I have never been subjected to that kind of behaviour. The only thing you can do at the time is respond very evenly that you will not be spoken to in that manner. Then record it and log it. There may be no culture of reprimanding such behaviour now, getting enough evidence from enough people makes it difficult for them to ignore long term. It also sounds like your boss needs to grow a pair and escalate this kind of thing rather loudly.

ignore the victim blaming above - whether you were or were not being annoying is entirely subjective and they should be able to control themselves and act professionally.

MadsMikkelsensCheekbones Wed 06-Nov-13 21:30:28

Sorry zangelbert, didn't see your note re HR smile

marriedinwhiteisback Wed 06-Nov-13 21:35:32

If you aren't ready to be back at work, why are you back at work or at least not back at work on adjusted duties? Why have you had problems with this chap before? I hope you are feeling better but 8 weeks is a long time to be away and I do wonder what your illness was.

I have worked in your sort of environment 80's 90's and don't recall it being as sexist as you describe with men not having to be accountable for behaviour and women expected to be demure. City trading floor in my case so I don't think things get much more male dominated or more stressful. Sounds like you are wound up and letting them wind you up to me and in these environments, chinks in the armour are detected - and if you are windupable you can't do the job imho.

Financeprincess Wed 06-Nov-13 21:37:49

Sorry if this offends anybody, but aren't people rather too quick to scream "bullying!" when they hear something they don't like? At my last employer, one girl brought a bullying complaint because somebody much more senior, from a different department, had "made her feel unimportant" and "failed to consider her needs" by telling her that he was too busy to respond to an e-mail on a trivial matter after she kept bombarding him with notes and calls. She should have just sucked it up; instead she subjected him to weeks of stress whilst the complaint was investigated by the incompetent bleeding hearts in the HR team. The 'bullying' accusation was used as a weapon of revenge, which is wrong.

Also, claiming to have been bullied when somebody is a bit sharp with you cheapens the experience of people who have truly been bullied.

OP, I hope you can deal with this on your own. All the best.

Mumsyblouse Wed 06-Nov-13 21:38:17

You may be right the environment I work in is quite different, however we have lots of rude middle-aged alpha males as well who like shouting at people, and in my experience, even if you speak with them personally, some people are just very very aggressive and don't stop. I have many female colleagues who have been harassed for years by men like this. I would attack this on two fronts, I would tell the person directly not to speak with me like this (and have done this myself with a ranting boss) and I would log it. Clearly the Op has been treated nastily more than once, so her current strategy isn't working. All the cases I can think of where the warring parties have gone head to head in shouting matches have ended up very badly, with colleagues in disciplinary procedures or unable to work together in the department.

Companies have to be more careful now than they used to be and most are susceptible to accusations of bullying or discrimination, see the front page of the female broker driven out who has just won her tribunal case and is likely to get substantial damages.

Gryffindor Wed 06-Nov-13 21:45:10

I work in Banking and no, not in HR. But another unpopular department. I am fairly senior (head a team of 7) but small fry in relation to the big hitters.

We do have HR (it's a huge banking group) but they are not "real people" if that makes sense. HR is outsourced so there is a hotline you can call with HR queries but you would never manage to speak to the same person twice and it feels very much like they are deliberately removed from us. So there is no option to pop round to HR and have an informal chat or anything.

Normally I have absolutely no problem standing up for myself - otherwise I wouldn't be able to do my job at all. But prior to this disastrous holiday/sickness I hadn't taken any time off this year and I think I got so used to just working and dealing with shit that being away and now back into it everything seems more shocking. If that makes any sense.

There is a big meeting at Friday that he and lots of other aggressive men will be on. Asolutely dreading it when usually I would take it in my stride.

One of the worst offenders just got awarded a lifetime achievement award for contributions to the industry. When I think about what a vile piece of shit he really is it makes me want to scream.

There are other issues too that are purely work related (ie things they are doing wrong that are unethical/wrong) - it's my job to call this stuff out but it's a huge struggle.

damejudydench Wed 06-Nov-13 21:47:48

I agree with Mumsyblouse. It's not bullying. It's just how some senior members of staff operate in some companies. It's not right but if you have no one to pull them up on it, then you have to do it yourself.

Over time, I've found that the women who handle these types well/gain their respect are generally pretty ballsy themselves.

WallyBantersJunkBox Wed 06-Nov-13 21:47:57

The problem is that people like this are all about work - it defines who they are and they get their power there.

I worked alongside a tw*t like this and he was promoted over me to head up the dept he was working on. He started flinging his weight around straight away to cover up a lot of mistakes that his dept had caused and that my department didn't have because I had spent my time with my head down building a solid team and solid process structure - rather than brown nosing, playing fantasy football and pressing the flesh. hmm

When his department was investigated by finance I started to get put down and blame emails to try and deflect from his shitty work, I sent one back correcting all his bullshit. He immediately started a smear campaign against me with higher echelons in the business. I don't have access to these people on a 1:2:1 basis and it has definitely damaged my career. I have just lost a promotion that I should have walked into with my experience because he is unfairly influencing members of the management team. I even heard from a colleague in another dept that he was doing it in a roundabout way - by initimating that I will leave when DH gets a good job, and that it is a lot for me to do with a child. I have never ever had conversations of this nature with anyone in upper management.

I record every conversation I have with him now, that's how much I distrust him. I can't use them in work, but I will play them back and threaten him on my own if I need to.

Your manager should have stepped in straight away and nipped that in the bud - were they on the call?

If you think 5 minutes in a room will work then try it - but make sure he isn't a sullen little boy who has had his pants pulled down in the playground and starts seeking revenge. You'd be surprised. Might be better to swallow it for now, and then on the next call pull a joke out about it to make him look like a knobber and remind him that you haven't forgotten. You just have to thicken up again and start practicing your throw away lines.

Shame on the other tw*ts who just sat there smirking too.

If he was on the phone I'd have been making "wanker" gestures. It would have made me feel a bit better in the interim. smile

Gryffindor Wed 06-Nov-13 21:49:04

Also, it wasn't 8 weeks sick leave, that was a combination of annual leave, sick leave and a short period working from home. All in it was 8 weeks until I was back and on full duties. I don't want to go into details (very identifiable) but I was ill and now recovering. I am well enough to not need to be off sick any more but it could be a while until I am 100%.

pianodoodle Wed 06-Nov-13 21:56:17

financeprincess yes I see what you mean re: bullying.

I think shouting is a bullying way of dealing with someone but yes you'd wouldn't log a complaint that you were being bullied based on one incident.

Gryffindor Wed 06-Nov-13 21:56:25

Oh and no, manager wasn't on the phone. And yes, I did do wanker signs, as well as putting myself on mute and saying fuck off.

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