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my boss is teasing me - or am I being oversensitive

(14 Posts)
maggiethemagpie Mon 01-Dec-14 21:06:41

My boss has started teasing me, making little comments, in front of other people which make me feel really uncomfortable. I'm not sure if I'm just being over sensitive/ paranoid though.

She's only been my boss a couple of months as my normal boss is on maternity leave, we have got on great so far and I thought we had a really good working relationship but there's this fly in the ointment which won't go away.

I'm sure it's just banter and she probably doesn't mean anything by it but it makes my blood boil. Not sure what to do.

It's really hard to give examples and when I do they don't even sound that bad in print as I can't get the tone of voice she uses and eye-rolling expression, but believe me she rolls her eyes and uses a sarky kind of tone. As in 'I cant believe Maggie did (insert slightly embarrassing anecdote of choice) It feels like she's having fun at my expense, basically.

My brothers used to tease me as a child and then I was teased at school so there's no way I can let this roll over me without getting upset but at the same time I don't want to make a fuss when everything else in our working relationship is going well.

So - put up and shut up, or say something? And going to her boss is out, not that I would at this stage anyway but for a number of reasons that isn't an option. She won't be my boss forever but she will be for another 9 months or so.

UncrushedParsley Mon 01-Dec-14 21:29:14

I don't think you are being oversensitive about this personally. What to do though.... Do you feel you could raise it with her? It might go well, or it might not, and I don't know where you'd go from there. Sounds a bit passive agressive to me.

RandomMess Mon 01-Dec-14 21:31:36

Have you got another manager in the firm you could go and speak to informally for advice, someone the same level as her?

So not a complaint but asking how to raise the issue with your linemanager?

Shakey1500 Mon 01-Dec-14 21:32:29

Do you feel able to say "Can I just have a quick word? I'm feeling a bit xyz when you say things like <give examples>. I appreciate it's probably unintentional on your part but being as we get on so well in all aspects, I'd hate for something like that to build up etc"

Be as assertive as you can smile and good luck.

SavoyCabbage Mon 01-Dec-14 21:35:12

I would look at my colleagues in disbelief and shock. As if you can't believe she's just said what she said. And I would say to the colleagues later that she was bang out of order. You need to take her audience away from her so that she looks like a wanker when she says things to you.

FinallyHere Mon 01-Dec-14 21:40:01

How would it be, to ask her for some time to discuss progress. In that meeting, ask her if there is anything that she feels you could do better or could improve about your work. Then get round to, that you are keen to do whatever is required so she feels that she doesn't have to make these comments in front of your colleagues.

It takes a bit, and you need to practice enough that you don't get defensive or have your voice go squeaky or high or anything.

Either she tells you and you do it, or she backs off. Could be a win/win. All the best, F.

maggiethemagpie Mon 01-Dec-14 21:44:01

OK I will try and give an example. EG we had a slot at another department's meeting, I had done the prep for it and a presentation, but I thought she would want to come and sit where I was at the front so that when we had q and a at the end she could join in as she manages the service - plus give me some moral support too.

So I got her to come and sit with me and then a couple of days later she was talking to someone else in the team saying 'Maggie made me go and sit next to her, I hadn't done any prep, I had to sit there like a lemon....'

It made me feel really uncomfortable not just because she was saying this to someone else but I was made to feel like I'd done something wrong.

Another example. I was trying to organise the secret santa, everyone was up for it but she apparently 'doesn't like christmas' so at our team meeting we were talking about secret santa and she goes 'Maggie's tried to organise it but I'm not sure anyone's up for it' (which is rubbish, I asked the others if they wanted to do it and they were all in favour'). Just made me feel really undermined, like I'm trying to force something on the team.

It's never things she says to me directly, always things she says to other people but in front of me. If it was to me directly I'd probably find it easier to banter back.

I do try and think of some witty retort but usually nothing comes out and I sit there burning with fury and embarrassment. It's hard when it's the boss.

maggiethemagpie Mon 01-Dec-14 21:49:25

Do you think it would be ok to wait until we are getting on well in a 1:1 setting , then say I would like to broach something and then in my nicest, least confrontational voice say 'You probably don't mean it but sometimes I feel like you take the mick out of me in front of other people, and it can make me feel a bit uncomfortable'.

Or is that too direct?

Shakey1500 Mon 01-Dec-14 21:58:00

No that's fine smile

OR, when she says things like you've mentioned, challenge it. The secret santa thing for example.

Say "Really? Do you think so? Because I've asked everyone and no-one has refused?"

And if it's in front of people you could say "Oh, well let me check while you've mentioned it. Emma, are you ok with doing SS? Yes? Great. Susan? Brilliant." Then give her the old MN head tilt in a kind of "Oh dear, you obviously got the wrong end of stick didn't you" tyoe of way.

The meeting "Sorry to interject manager dear, I'm sorry you felt like a lemon, not my intention, just thought you could offer some input? If you're uncomfortable doing so, next time I'll make sure you're sat at the door, would that make you feel better?"


maggiethemagpie Mon 01-Dec-14 22:06:03

I don't want to fall out with her Shakey - 95% of the time we get on really well in fact until this happened I would have said she was one of the best managers I'd ever had.

Apparantly she has told someone else in the team that I'm really good at my job - they passed that info on to me without her knowing - so I don't think this is really about how I do my job or anything.

I really don't think she means it, I think she just thinks it's friendly teasing but it's only a joke when both people laugh right?

I am working with her all day tomorrow but not sure it is the right time to say anything, it feels a bit too soon and whatever examples I bring up she will probably twist them so that it looks like I've completely misinterpreted them.

I know I am quite sensitive at the best of times, but I'm not imagining it, the things she is saying (as I've described) are out of order, aren't they.

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 01-Dec-14 22:07:26

It doesn't sound like teasing to me. It sounds like she is rather insecure. The first example 'i'd done no prep, i felt like a lemon, my junior colleague made me'. I can't get any negative about you. Actually to me that reads as she's a bit in awe of your calm control.

Likewise the second example. You're in control of organising something that others want and it makes her insecure. She's then trying to destabilise but not getting the backing from your colleagues.

Its a slightly different angle to take than you've suggested but would you consider doing nothing? I feel that potentially saying something could show your insecurities/ weakness and actually encourage her teasing.

maggiethemagpie Tue 02-Dec-14 06:35:06

Thanks Misformum - that was one of my other options. My default setting is to say nothing for fear of rocking the boat, but in that situation I will probably withdraw a little, remain professional and superficially friendly but the -well, the depth of my friendliness will probably decrease.

Its such a shame as up until now she was superboss, I really liked her and was a bit in awe of her if I'm honest - she has a lot more professional experience than me.

Another example which proves your point - yesterday we were in a team meeting and the other manager was saying only 3 of us are trained in x, and I said 'after tomorrow I'll be trained in it too as (boss) is going to do a session with me and train me. (The week before I'd mentioned that one of the others was supposed to be training me in x but had gone of sick so I was going to try and do it on my own but was a bit wary as I'd not done it before. She said she'd done a lot of it in her previous organisation so she offered to come with me and do it with me)

Anyway in the meeting, publicly, she said 'am I? I don't know about training you (and did the eye rolly thing)'. I said 'I thought I was shadowing you' and she goes 'oh I've not read the guide yet don't know about shadowing'.

Now the whole point of her being there is to train me, she offered, she's done it before and I haven't so that's the whole point of why she offered!

But she seemed really embarrassed about it at the meeting.

So yes, it does begin to look now like she is insecure, which I wouldn't have thought from working with her but I guess it's the only thing that makes sense.

If I say anything yes it may feed the fire .Perhaps I'm better saying nothing, she's not my boss forever and we're only together with other people around 1-2 times a month as we don't work in same location.

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 02-Dec-14 06:48:41

I personally dont think it is teasing you, it is her inability to manage that is the problem. I think she is either in awe or fancies you a little.

confusedandemployed Tue 02-Dec-14 15:02:28

Is she a new manager? It sounds like she's struggling to find her feet and has messed up a few times.

But equally, I think it's important that you challenge anything you hear personally - because otherwise, not only will she not know that what she's saying is out of order, but also you will feel (and possibly look) like a doormat.

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