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Is my colleague BU or are we insensitive?

(47 Posts)
Crowdblundering Mon 20-Feb-17 13:19:58

Have a rather "high maintenance" colleague who insists of having everything in the office just the way she likes it (lighting, heating, noise) and who is quite insensitive to other people (my DS has high functioning autism at main stream school and she insists on calling him "disabled" hmm).

She is obsessive about her health, every day there is a new health concern - to the point I do (seriously) wonder if she has health anxiety.

She can be quite sweet (albeit hard work). Another colleague and I encouraged her last year with internet dating and she has now moved in with someone. Before this she was single and panicking about having left it too late to start a family - she is now 40 and both me and my colleague try to be sensitive about her concerns about her age, know more about her menstural cycle that our own and know she stopped taking the pill last month. She is very self absorbed.

She isn't pg as she made rather a fuss about her period arriving last week insisting she was having an MC, lying down, crying etc. We try to be sympathetic but often the sympathy is minimal as we are trying to work and every day there is a new health issue.

I am early 40s and my kids are practically grown up and my colleagues kids are too and she is early 50s (we were both working single mums) and going through the menopause - and has joked about being "past it" in relation to having kids which was met with collegue storming around the office slamming things around and saying "well fucking thanks".

My SIL has just told us she is PG with her 1st baby which is very exciting but I cannot dare say anything at work as am worried about colleague's reaction.

How do I/we manage this? I want to be supportive but also want a to be able to get on with my job and if she does (hopefully) get pregnant I cannot begin to think what work is going to be like having to hear about every tiny detail whilst trying to work.

Should we just ban the topic of reproduction which includes hearing all about her periods ?

cookielove Mon 20-Feb-17 13:24:44

Your colleague is being unreasonable!

That would drive me nuts!!

BuckingFrolicks2 Mon 20-Feb-17 13:27:35

She has no boundaries. Introduce her to the concept. It's straightforward really.

misshelena Mon 20-Feb-17 13:28:08

Your colleague is too much work for a mere colleague! Stop being "supportive" and let her get on with her own drama. You just focus on doing your job while at work.

TheAntiBoop Mon 20-Feb-17 13:29:58

I had a colleague like this. It's exhausting.

I used to find a small smile and then getting back to work. I also stopped chatting in general and would just go for lunch or a coffee if I did want a chat.

I also used to find that when she got pissed off with me and blanked me I would make sure I didn't say anything and just ride it out as it meant quite a nice peaceful few days!!

evensmilingmakesmyfacehurt Mon 20-Feb-17 13:30:57

Jeeez this would drive me nuts. Don't be sensitive any more and bring her into the real world with a bump. She is just being a drama llama and you are both feeding that at the moment.

With regards to SIL being pregnant, share that news, you're excited. Your colleague is the one with the issue, not you!

Crowdblundering Mon 20-Feb-17 13:31:51

It is exhausting - it's an open plan office but not often many of us in and she kind of traps you into listening to a monologue about her health issues.

Unfortunately her manager is on a different site and we are in a caring profession so it's tricky for me to manage sometimes.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 20-Feb-17 13:32:19

this would drive me insane too. Unless you're really close friends or are interested in her menstrual cycle, having that level of personal details about a work colleague is odd and a bit grim.

I'm not sure how to handle it sensitively. Maybe change the subject each time she starts to something mundane, or invest in headphones and listen to music whilst working.

Crowdblundering Mon 20-Feb-17 13:32:51

... but also see people here who struggle with fertility issues and don't want to be an insensitive bitch to her ..

The80sweregreat Mon 20-Feb-17 13:36:25

she sounds nuts and a lot younger than her years too.
saying your son is disabled is also out of order - you and your colleagues sound like saints to put up with it all..
If she does become pregnant then it will be hell by the sounds of things - but at least she will then go on mat leave for a while. I would look forwards to that!

Bambambini Mon 20-Feb-17 13:36:59

I wouldn't cope well with her at all - I don't think she'd like me.

Don't overly pander to her.

TheAntiBoop Mon 20-Feb-17 13:43:08

With people like this you have to remember that they don't show the same concern or interest in you so don't feel bad about dialling it back

Give her a few minutes in the morning and then 'sorry I'm really busy, need to crack on' me then head down and ignore.

Honestly, what's the worst that can happen?

Fingers crossed she gets pregnant and goes on the full maternity leave!

ThumbWitchesAbroad Mon 20-Feb-17 13:43:45

I have to agree with the "don't overly pander to her" idea.

Your life doesn't stop just because of whatever is going on in hers. Your sister being pregnant though, do you need to discuss that at work? Would it be something you would normally chat about, or just mention in passing and then move on? Unless your sister is likely to turn up at your place of work, I think I'd probably pass on mentioning that.

As for the rest - well, she needs to realise that not everything is about HER. (I mean, she should have realised this a long time ago, but clearly missed the notes!) She wants to discuss her health issues in minute detail, but you're not allowed to talk about menopause in case it wounds her sensibilities? Ridiculous.

nat73 Mon 20-Feb-17 13:43:53

I'd hint that its unprofessional to talk about your personal life too much...

Iris65 Mon 20-Feb-17 13:49:54

On another webiste I visit I learned about the 'bean dip' technique which could be modified for any situation.
When someone starts saying something inappropriate or offensive you reply 'Have you tried the bean dip?' with a nice smile and follow up as necessary with 'Its really very good, try it with a cracker.'
She shpuld get the message if you just keep using the technique!

scorpio1981 Mon 20-Feb-17 13:51:27

She sounds like a narcissist through and through and you and other colleagues are her 'givers' constantly feeding her out of control ego. Ignore her scenes/performances and watch her crumble. She'll soon get the message.

missmoz Mon 20-Feb-17 14:15:04


I don't understand, doesn't that make you look crazy?

ParadiseCity Mon 20-Feb-17 14:17:54

Try 'I'm not being rude but I don't feel chatty today'. Everyday .

LadyPW Mon 20-Feb-17 14:23:43

Bean dip - do you actually have to say bean dip? When you're not even eating dip? Yes it would shut them up but wouldn't you get a reputation for insanity?

Permanentlyexhausted Mon 20-Feb-17 14:24:31

I think you need to be more assertive so that she doesn't keep interrupting your work. When she starts telling you about her latest issue, try this:

"Oh dear, I can see you need to talk about this. I'm busy at the moment/today/until x time but would you like to have lunch later/tomorrow/on Friday and you can tell me all about it then."

If she continues to try to talk to you, remind her again (and again and again) that you will talk to her at whatever time you agreed. Just keep repeating "I'm busy at the moment but we will talk about this [insert appropriate time]". Turn round and get on with your work. If she forgets and starts talking again, remind her you are meeting later.

This is a classic technique for dealing with difficult people. You are acknowledging her need to talk but directing it to a time that is suitable for you. Make sure the time you choose is finite and she is aware of it, e.g. "I'm free until 2pm". At 2pm you finish the conversation. If she needs to talk further you arrange another get together later in the week or whatever.

Good luck! It's hard to do if you and she are used to you giving her attention whenever she wants it but persevere and it should start to work.

LadyPW Mon 20-Feb-17 14:25:14

Could you turn it round and next time she mentions her periods (!) say ever-so-nicely that you'd rather she didn't on account of you & other colleague no longer being able to have more children & it being a touchy subject?

WhispersOnTheWind Mon 20-Feb-17 14:28:53

I think it simply means change the subject missmoz beandip being an example. "Oh that's awful for you, Oversharing Coworker... which reminds me did anyone see Walking Dead last night?"
Then if she tries to continue you continue to deflect.
"Yes, I got all teared up about Carol. And what about Rick? That was amazing when he..."

Crowdblundering Mon 20-Feb-17 14:33:44

She made a big palava as went on holidays somewhere the Zika virus was just before xmas - Visited and phoned her GP during work hours about 4 times over the next month and has now announced she is visiting said place again next month hmm

EverythingEverywhere1234 Mon 20-Feb-17 15:02:47

I actually thought I knew you'd colleague for a moment there. Down to the fact she calls your son disabled, mine used to call me disabled to my face as I am blind in one eye and have a joint problem 😂
No idea how to handle it, sorry.

Rachel0Greep Mon 20-Feb-17 15:03:33

I would be steering clear as much as possible. Easier said than done, I know. I certainly wouldn't want to know the details of a colleague's periods! hmm
It sounds as though she thinks sensitivity only works one way - and she doesn't have to bother with being sensitive to others.

As others have suggested, can you say 'let's meet for lunch/ coffee one of the days' (vague) - 'up to my ears here at the minute', and try to shortstop the conversation that way.

You say she is sweet, I know, but honestly she sounds like very very hard work!

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