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To ask your advice on dealing with this lady?

(46 Posts)
difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:06:40


I am working very closely with a lady and I am finding her really difficult.

She seems to think I am odd (I'm not! Honestly!) and it's as if she doesn't know how to treat me.

She laughs at me a lot and I do mean at - I will say something totally un-funny like 'the traffic is bad at the town centre' and she will burst into peals of laughter, punch me hmm and sit there laughing saying 'you are funny, oh you are so funny.'

She asks me a lot of questions and I don't like answering them because they lead to further probing, mainly about my children. So yesterday we had 'bet you're dead strict, do you shout at them, do you smack them?' I was hmm er no, don't have to - 'oh, you're a COOL mum then!' I feel like I keep needing to explain myself.

And I get my accent commented on a lot and she stares at me very intently - it really makes me uncomfortable.

Can anyone suggest anything to make the next four weeks bearable??

StillFrankie Wed 12-Aug-15 16:08:46

Be more assertive.

"Why do you want to know?"

"What's so funny?"

"It's none of your business"

SecretNutellaFix Wed 12-Aug-15 16:11:49

Do you have a line manager you can speak to?

difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:13:42

Not as such but in any case she isn't actually doing anything wrong, if you see what I mean. At the risk of sounding awful I don't think she is particularly bright and I think she is treating me like a curious child might poke at a peculiar object in its vicinity!

DadfromUncle Wed 12-Aug-15 16:15:33

Do you work in the South of England by any chance?

difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:16:33

If I did I would hardly say so!

Why do people do that?

SecretNutellaFix Wed 12-Aug-15 16:20:13

It doesn't have to be her doing anything overtly "wrong"

I nearly had a mental health breakdown 7 years ago when I was working with someone who talked at me every shift we worked together and when she found out I was getting married, immediately began to fire a barrage of requests for invitations to the wedding. She had started 3 days earlier. It only stopped after I broke down in my review and sobbed at my manager that I realised it was a form of harrassment.

TenForward82 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:21:17

Difficult, what are your respective races / nationalities? I ask because I think sometimes people who feel "awkward" around "foreigners" often treat them like a quaint object of curiousity.

I second other opinions where I think you totally deadpan it: "Why is that funny?" When she has to explain it you may get to the root of where she's coming from. Or as you say, she could just not be very bright.

YouTheCat Wed 12-Aug-15 16:21:36

If it's only for 4 weeks, I'd just bite my lip unless there's a good reason to give feedback.

difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:22:09

We are both white British but it is possibly fair to say our backgrounds and educational levels are vastly different.

TenForward82 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:25:11

So what's your accent? "Posh?"

InTheBox Wed 12-Aug-15 16:25:44

Just be dead-pan and matter-of-fact with your responses to her.

Don't take it personally but if you, as you say, already find her odd then she might have the same feelings towards you. Ignore and detach r.e the comments she makes but if she's making negative comments about your accent that's something that needs immediate addressing with management.

If it was me, I'd make a field day out of it and play her at the same game but there is of course work to be done. So keep a log, make note of your interactions and see if anyone else is around to witness.

On occasion if she says something to you act as if you haven't even heard it. Smile and walk away. Get on with your day.

AtrociousCircumstance Wed 12-Aug-15 16:26:22

Reduce your responses. Sometimes when she asks, just go 'hmm' and nod/shake your head as if you're not really listening. Sometimes just say nothing. Go quiet on her.

If she laughs inappropriately I second just saying, 'why is that funny?' And then if she just laughs more ignore her.

Tune her out and stop giving in to her intrusive demands. She isn't conversing in a sensitive way with you so don't feel you are bound by convention and have to be 'nice'.

YellowTulips Wed 12-Aug-15 16:27:30

Just fire her questions back at her without answering.

"Why - do you smack your children?"

As an example...

I've found that works a treat grin

difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:28:01

Apparently Ten although it certainly isn't. The difficulty is that it isn't intended as an insult - I am not so sensitive that I don't realise this! - but nonetheless it is irritating when I am dealing with 'you're posh, you!' in an amused voice. It irritates me and I don't fully know why. Perhaps because I constantly feel like a visiting alien.

TheCowThatLaughs Wed 12-Aug-15 16:28:36

She sounds really really annoying, but, as you've got to with with her, my advice would be to try and get to know her as a person. Ask her questions about herself and her family and stuff like that, and gradually you'll probably both start feeling more comfortable.
Maybe she's really shy, or feels intimidated because she's got a "very different background" and doesn't know how to communicate with you?
It might be worth making an effort for a few weeks to get things better between you.

Gruntfuttock Wed 12-Aug-15 16:31:16

I ahd to laugh at your user name TheCowThatLaughs considering the subject of this thread. grin

Gruntfuttock Wed 12-Aug-15 16:31:42

'had' I mean ^^

TenForward82 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:32:11

difficult I have exactly the same problem. I grew up in, and now live in, low-education areas, where everyone sounds like a chav. I don't judge, but I certainly get judged a lot, and I know a lot of people distrust me at first because I sound (and am) better educated than them, so I must be a stuck up bitch that is looking down my nose at them. I definitely feel like a "visiting alien" too.

difficultcolleague101 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:49:49

I'm glad to hear it isn't just me Ten - I don't like the word chav, and wouldn't use it though. I think she is well meaning but I am finding it quite tiresome.

TenForward82 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:54:39

Having grown up around chavs I feel entitled to call a spade a spade wink

Couldn't think of any other way to describe the accent without outing my location.

RonaldosAbs Wed 12-Aug-15 16:57:12

If you can report her to someone, do so, references etc in the future rely on these things being picked up on, I would want to know if I had someone like that working for me, she sounds awful. Sorry you're having to put up with things like that, what a dick.

DadfromUncle Wed 12-Aug-15 17:01:25

Sorry for the o/t question about where this is.

I don't answer people who I think are asking intrusive questions. Depending on how much I care what they think, I may try to make light of it, or just not bother.

I have a colleague who is convinced I have no dress sense at all, and he feels compelled to mention it every time we meet. I do quite like him, so I make light of it, even though I think he's being a git, and console myself with the fact that either he's the only one with that view, or everyone else has better manners.

Accent comments would probably result in a heated debate - and occasionally have, but in my case, only in the South of England, which is why I was curious, however it was a crass question given the circumstances.

daisychain01 Wed 12-Aug-15 17:01:31

If it's only for 4 weeks, as you say in your OP, could you grin and bear it?

FenellaFellorick Wed 12-Aug-15 17:01:33

hmm, laughing at things you say and acting like you're really funny. asking you lots of questions. I wonder if perhaps she is trying to flatter you and make you like her? Perhaps it stems from insecurity.

I realise that it doesn't make sense that doing annoying things can be intended to make you like someone grin but if someone doesn't know they're annoying, but thinks that they are showing that they find you funny and interesting.

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