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How to handle an insensitive colleague with verbal diahorrea?

(13 Posts)
Pushonregardless Fri 15-Aug-14 12:27:15

30 weeks pregnant today.

I work in a very small office. Thankfully I'm only here a few days a week due to travel. Since I got pregnant one particular colleague has not stopped commenting on my body and my pregnancy.

She is in her 50s, size 6, has had two babies, I considered us friends before this started.

She has relatively poor social skills and I think she just has a 'speak before I think' problem. Trying to think the best of her.

But the comments I have had range from 'Hi tubby'...'Do you know how much weight you've put on?'...'Don't eat too much over the weekend, you're putting on weight'...'Oooh look! You're waddling!' And the hilarious one she does - moving away from me if we pass in a corridor, to make way for my massive frame.

I respond with a cold stare or not taking my eyes off of my screen to respond.

She invariably feels bad afterwards and comes to 'chat' and ask how I'm getting on. But this has been happening for 4 months and she doesn't seem to get the message.

Feeling quite angry about it all. I find it so unprofessional in a work space. Also, I know I'm not that big. Less than expected weight gain for my height.

I have 5 weeks left here, and I'm currently dealing with it by ignoring it and just trying to focus on getting the hell out of here. But is there a better way to respond?

Why do people do it?!

Vicky5910 Fri 15-Aug-14 12:33:46

I'd be really cross too. It's not appropriate for any situation. Maybe ask her if she is worried about her weight as she is always talking about weight? I'd probably then say 'oh are you feeling ok...?' Every time she comments on your weight like you're worried she is feeling insecure about hers. She'll soon stop if you imply she's feeling fat I'm sure!

dolicapax Fri 15-Aug-14 12:34:40

People say stuff like that because in a stupid way they think they are being interested in your pregnancy. I don't think she means any harm, just trying to be 'funny'.

However, as it isn't even remotely funny I'd just say 'Do you have to be so rude? I'm pregnant, not fat', or something along those lines.

MintSource Fri 15-Aug-14 12:39:16

How on earth gave you coped with this for four months, OP?!

It's outrageous behaviour.

Does she make these comments in front of colleagues/the boss? Do they react?

Is there any way you could take her to one side and explain that you want these comments to stop right now or you will have to take things further? She may try to brush them off as a joke but they are only amusing to her - don't be rebuffed or made to feel you're over-reacting and if she makes a dig about your hormones just flatten the bitch.

If you don't feel able to speak to her then do speak to your line manager who should sort this out for you.

Please don't suck it up for another five weeks. Being at work towards the end of pregnancy is hard enough without this sort of abuse. You deserve to enjoy this special time and focus on things that are important, not her puerile behaviour.

Good luck...

Pushonregardless Fri 15-Aug-14 12:49:47

Thank you all. I know I'm being a bit of a pushover on this - normally I'm very outspoken and don't take any crap from people but I find this SO personal that it's very hard to deal with. I need to man up and ask her to stop - that is what I would advise someone in my situation.

I'm relatively senior here so only have the MD to discuss this with - he's a bit of a weak little man and we don't have a fantastic relationship, so I'd rather not involve him in anything personal.

dolicapax is right - she thinks she's being funny and it's ok because we get on well (or did).

It's literally every day that I'm here. I dread opening the office door and scoot past her as quickly as I can so that she can't comment!

And yes, she does it in front of everyone. Even the MD.

One positive is that it will make sure that for the rest of time, I will only ever say to a pregnant woman 'Wow, you look fab!' (not that I would have been insensitive before this)

I can't wait to leave.

frankiebuns Fri 15-Aug-14 12:50:24

I had this at wotk too i was 20 weeks and was feeling movenlments and my collegue asked where they were and i said down low so she stuck her hand down my trousers to feel i was stuned i hadnt said she could she also found it greag to abandon customers on her till to pick up my newborn son wheb id settled him

MintSource Fri 15-Aug-14 13:13:11

Imagine if someone said these things to a non-pregnant colleague. "Hi Tubby.. Ooh you're waddling".

Maybe others would be more likely to say something then - not sure why pregnancy excuses such rudeness.

Pushonregardless Fri 15-Aug-14 13:20:39

Didn't you know, Mint? You become public property when you're pregnant!

MaryBS Fri 15-Aug-14 13:23:28

I would tell her straight, but politely, "please don't keep going on about my weight, I don't find it funny, and to be honest, its all getting a bit repetitive. I don't want to fall out with you, but please stop".

squizita Fri 15-Aug-14 14:37:20

I agree with PP.

I had the opposite ... One woman who would ask how far along I was then look aghast and say "are they not worried, you're so small?" ...I look like Mr Greedy! My bump is not remotely small.

I just took to saying "my scans are all fine thanks" and ewalking off sharpish. Polite but shut it down.

juneavrile Fri 15-Aug-14 14:53:37

I would take a very serious tone, close her office door behind you and tell her that you are worried about HER. As nobody but nobody mistakes pregnancy for general weight gain you are worried that she is either struggling with body issues of her own - maybe anorexia - or that she's having complicated feelings about you being pregnant, possibly she's going through the menopause and is feeling upset /jealous. I would do this with grave concern which would be quite disingenuous but - should it turn out that she is experiencing genuine emotional problems, could be turned into sincere help. And if it turns out that she's just being a cow, I imagine that you'll have a pretty quiet final five weeks.

katiegee Fri 15-Aug-14 22:51:57

it's crazy the things people think it's okay to say to you when you are pregnant. I have a colleugue who is similair to yours. Every time she sees me she exclaims 'oh my goodness, you're huge!' or 'you must be having twins' or 'you're going to be massive'. I put it down to her being quite young, but she's a nurse so I would have assumed she'd have a little sensitivity!

unfortunately, I've no advice for you as I usually just stand there and let her tell me I'm massive. Just wanted to say I feel your pain!

Pushonregardless Sun 17-Aug-14 17:31:09

I'm being such a weakling. I just can't be bothered with the confrontation that addressing it will bring. 19 more working days smile

I am only there 2 days this coming week. So it will be limited. Just have to try not to be tired and emotional or I will cry if she starts again!

Thanks for all the support smile

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