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Asking how to deal with passive aggressive colleague

(48 Posts)
greenbloom Tue 23-Feb-16 15:58:05

I'm unsure how to deal with someone at work who makes snide remarks about me - from the way I dress to the time I arrive at work and the fact I don't smile much. I was badly bulled at school - years ago but still have no idea how to respond to this kind of treatment.

theclick Tue 23-Feb-16 16:04:18

Talk to their line manager and explain diplomatically it doesn't help the team. Take the emotion out of it. Chances are they are a bully and they've done it to a succession of people.

OurBlanche Tue 23-Feb-16 16:05:24

I always have the same advice: practice some smart replies.

Dress sense: yes, I have always ploughed my own furrow

Timing: crikey, are you stalking me?

Smiling: not surprising given the company I am forced to keep

Or just one, nicely PA right back at them: Should I care what you think?

Literally make a list and practice. I worked with a total pillock and took my own advice. It annoyed the hell out of him, but he could never articulate why, which seemed to annoy him more.

I did also speak to my line manager and HR, to explain that a colleague seemed to be overly interested in how I did my job and that I was uncomfortable with the idea that he was making loud judgements about me and my work. He was spoken to, which made him worse, but our line manager basically told him to grow up.

By making daft responses I managed to change how I felt about his comments. I felt sad for him and his snippy little life rather than intimidated by him. But it took persistent practice, which eventually became a natural response to his comments,which did eventually stop.

specialsubject Tue 23-Feb-16 16:05:30

not much passive about this!

take the person aside, say calmly that it is not their place to comment on these items and will they please stop. Then walk off.

that said, this is bullying so it is perfectly appropriate to speak to your manager and ask them to do the same.

soapybox Tue 23-Feb-16 16:07:01

Look at them and say politely, 'excuse me but did you really mean to sound so rude!' Put your head in the air and sweep regally away to your desk and sit down saying 'some people' indignantly to no one in particular!

greenbloom Tue 23-Feb-16 16:09:20

Those are so fab OurBlanche. It isn't the kind of place where a line manager would care about this sort of behaviour - but those responses would certainly work. Thanks so much.

Arkhamasylum Tue 23-Feb-16 16:17:25

When she drops one of her bombshells, just look at her and ask 'I'm sorry?' as if you hadn't heard her. If she repeats it say 'what?' and if she repeats it again just say 'OK' and make a 'what ARE you on about' face. Passive aggressive her back. Alternatively, you could try mumbling 'fuckingbitchsayswhat'? Maybe not, though. grin

Katenka Tue 23-Feb-16 16:24:50

I usually just ask people to repeat it louder. 'Sorry I didn't catch that, can you say it again?'

Or 'you shouldn't mumble so much, no one has any idea what you are talking about'

Usually puts a stop to it?

Katenka Tue 23-Feb-16 16:25:12

That last sentence shouldn't have been a question grin

greenbloom Tue 23-Feb-16 16:26:43

Hmmmm, I'll definitely be ready next time. I think I just get taken aback at how astonishingly rude she is. it's usually something along the lines of 'you look like you've been here all night' (I like to be in early). Or 'my goodness, don't tell me you've got a new dress.' - I have a very tiny work wardrobe.

OurBlanche Tue 23-Feb-16 16:31:10

Yes, people like that depend on others being polite.

"You look like you've been here all night" = I am practising my Goth look

"Don't tell me you have got a new dress" = OK, I won't

Nothing snippy back. I did that once and he went totally up the wall, accused me of all sorts of nastiness, racism (he was Welsh) and being a total bitch.

Stick with a quick bemused response, which will irritate the shit out of her, I promise.

greenbloom Tue 23-Feb-16 16:34:42

I will. I'm sort of looking forward to trying some of this out. Thanks so much all!

iMatter Tue 23-Feb-16 16:36:22

"You look like you've been here all night" -> "Hahaha. No, just like to get in early"

"Don't tell me you've got a new dress" -> "Gosh, I never notice what you wear."

YellowTulips Tue 23-Feb-16 16:37:28

My back up when I can't think of anything smart on the spot to PA comments is simply to look confused and say "what did you mean by that?"

You usually get some back tracking straight after.

If not I follow up with "I'm not sure whether to be offended at your rudeness or laughing at your childishness" again with a puzzled face and then walk off.

Fidelia Tue 23-Feb-16 16:41:27

This isn't passive aggression, it's outright bullying with a bit of concealed aggression thrown in.

Don't feed their desire for drama. And don't defend/explain yourself. Just do the pretending you didn't hear them thing, and if they persist, say "You're not my line manager" with a hmm look on your face

angelos02 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:44:12

'What did you just say to me?' said confidently and firmly always works for me.

DoreenLethal Tue 23-Feb-16 16:44:23

you look like you've been here all night
Why are you interested in where I slept?

my goodness, don't tell me you've got a new dress
Why re you so interested in what I wear?

You don't smile much
Why are you interested in my smile? Honestly, you seem a bit full on, but just so you know, I am not gay.

TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 23-Feb-16 16:46:32

Head tilt "You are a little bit obsessed with me aren't you dear? Is your life a little bit....empty? There are lots of groups for people now you know".

Lifebeginsat41 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:47:10

To give you the courage to reply to this idiot get yourself a small stress ball, and squeeze it as hard as you can when replying to him. When you do speak to him stand as tall and straight, it will make you feel much bigger than him, whilst not digging your nails into your hands.

I would not challenge him on his behaviour but do speak to your HR and his Line Manager. Also keep a record of when he makes these comments this will help you.

Good luck

Arkhamasylum Tue 23-Feb-16 16:53:09

**my goodness, don't tell me you've got a new dress

Well, we're not all lucky enough to look OK in cheap clothes

AskingForAPal Tue 23-Feb-16 16:54:18

I had one like this. In the end the only way to cope was by COMPLETELY ignoring her. Like this:"why do you always go to lunch with X?" <silence>, "Aren't you going to X's party?" <silence>, "Why are you here so early?" <silence>

It was uncomfortable but it silenced her.

Alternatively, I have found saying "That's a bit rude!" in a jocular tone effective when someone says something a bit off that they think they can get away with.

gandalf456 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:55:03

I've been here all night. It's called hard work. You should try it some time

wotoodoo Tue 23-Feb-16 16:55:43

Have fun with this op, you will feel much better grin

Everything she says to you ask her to repeat:

'What was that you said?'

Then whip out a notebook, date it and record what she said in full visibility. You could also press 'record' on your mobile.

People cannot bear it when people write something down about them, it makes them feel very vulnerable.

Not only will you have a log of the comments as evidence, you will feel emmpowered AND have something to show HR if you need to escalate it.



gandalf456 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:56:15

Another would be fake shock 'oooooo I'm hurt!'

gandalf456 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:57:23

Or a sarcastic miaow

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