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On a regular basis, I have to interact and coordinate with a coworker who is one of those highly opinionated people that has no filter. I find myself avoiding her as much as possible, to the point where I used to enjoy team happy hours, but don't even go any more because of this single individual.

Examples of remarks she's made below - individually they sound harmless, but it's the relentless, constant nature of the remarks that are grinding me down and mentally exhausting to be around.

  1. I usually drink an IPA at work happy hours. Every time, the instant I place my order, she loudly remarks "EW! HOW CAN YOU DRINK THAT? THOSE ARE SO DISGUSTING!"
  2. Another coworker and I share a love of metal music, so often we'll have discussions about the merits/demerits of the latest Slayer album, or whatever. Every time: "HOW CAN YOU LISTEN TO THAT? YOU REALLY CALL THAT MUSIC? ALL IT IS IS YELLING!"
  3. Spiritual beliefs - something I don't bring up at work, but while at a convention a couple years back, she started questioning my beliefs, along the usual lines of "but why don't you believe [what she believes]?". It got to the point where she was implying I'm a bad person and will go to hell.
  4. Food choices - I'm adventurous and will try about anything, but that seems to really bother her, and 90% of the time I order something at a team lunch/happy hour, she'll start in again: "EW! HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT? YOU REALLY THINK THAT TASTES GOOD?!"

And so on. These remarks are always made with very expressive body language - she screws up her face, rolls her eyes, and uses a whiny tone of voice to hammer in her criticism. They end up short-circuiting any sort of real conversation as the only topics of discussion she'll allow are things she doesn't find gross, boring, disgusting, bad, etc etc etc. Which is pretty much nothing.

My complaint is not that she doesn't share my taste in beer, or anything else. I do not care what she thinks of my taste in beer, food, music, etc. The point is, the remarks are so constant that being around her sucks the life out of me. But, my job requires me to interact with this person often. I have taken steps to find a new contact for certain aspects of the job, which has reduced my interaction with her some degree, but it is still an issue.

How do I learn to deal with this, as short of finding a new job (where there very well may be another person with the same personality type), I'm not going to be able to simply avoid it all the time.

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    This may be better on interpersonal.stackexchange.com but I could be wrong... – AtheistP3ace Oct 17 '17 at 21:05
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    I pray for anyone that dislikes Pale Ales and Metal Music. I suggest that you stop responding to such questionings, don't take them personal, your coworker should get the message. I usually just follow along their sort of jokes until certain limit, where I then speak clearly to them my desire for them to stop doing that. – DarkCygnus Oct 17 '17 at 21:07
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    @AtheistP3ace, I considered that initially, but realized the way I would handle that outside of the office is completely different. Outside the office, I wouldn't put up with it, and would gleefully fire back choice remarks. Sadly, those choice remarks have no place in the office, thus I'm looking for advice on how to deal with this specifically in a work environment. I admit, I'm probably old-fashioned in that I do think we have to hold ourselves to different standards of behavior in the office, versus outside the office. – Saguaro Oct 17 '17 at 21:57
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    It could be worse... I have FAMILY like this. – Omegacron Dec 6 '17 at 22:51
  • I would call that a sort of passive aggression. – pandabear Jan 26 '18 at 15:07
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How do I learn to deal with this, as short of finding a new job (where there very well may be another person with the same personality type), I'm not going to be able to simply avoid it all the time.

You don't avoid it, you correct it. "I'm sorry, that was inappropriate, please do not comment on what I choose to drink/eat/do."

That's all you need to say. Don't be nasty, don't be aggressive, just stop the behavior. Then, as per Joe Strazzere's comment, to emphasize the point, walk away. The behavior will stop.

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    As long as you don't walk away slamming doors, as to maintain a professional and mature attitude as opposed to the Coworker's jokes – DarkCygnus Oct 17 '17 at 21:47
  • It sometimes only takes resistance in the form of a very direct, straight-to-the-point sentence to correct that kind of character. it may well be that, being ostensibly outspoken, the person in question in not even accustomed to receive that kind of remark. It is well worth trying. As far as changing jobs, unless we are talking about a superior here, forget about it: you meet that kind everywhere. You need to be flexible in your approach. Long term, this skill is your gain. – Cantalope Oct 18 '17 at 8:12
  • This is spot-on. I'd like to add, that this is a form of inter-personal feedback, where this format has proven very effective: instead of just saying, "this was inappropriate" (which is something one can argue with), express the effect it had on you, for example: "When you comment on my choices, I feel my personal space invaded, which to me is very inappropriate. Can you please stop?" This expresses your observations, feelings and a request. It leaves little room to even start an argument.Then, like Joe said, walk away. – CMW Oct 18 '17 at 13:17
  • A lighthearted approach is to say "never yuck someone's yum." We raised our kids with this phrase and it's long past time for your coworker to learn it. – Kate Gregory Oct 18 '17 at 13:56
  • I like your answer. At the same time, however, this is not something I would do until I feel I've exhausted all other options, as the OP will be burning bridges with this person. And I wouldn't want her going around telling everyone how horrible I am, not to mention giving me attitude when I interact with her on an almost daily basis. I've worked someone exactly like that before, and it did indeed end up souring our relationship because she could take exactly zero criticism. Public opinion sided with me, but it made for an unpleasant few weeks (until she got over it) – AndreiROM Oct 18 '17 at 15:52
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I'm really sorry but I don't understand you: you say that you like beer and metal music: I also like beer and have been fond of metal music (Slayer, Metallica, Amorphis, ...).

When I was dealing with such people, that was just funny for me:

  • the other : "EW? DO YOU LIKE THAT? THAT DRINK IS AWFUL!"
  • me : "Then lucky for you someone else is drinking it :-) "
  • the other : "EW? DO YOU LIKE THAT? THAT'S NO MUSIC, THAT'S YELLING!"
  • me : "Yeah, indeed! Exactly what I need to ventilate. How do you ventilate? :-)"
  • the other : "EW? ARE YOU EATING THAT? THAT'S DISGUSTING!"
  • me : "You want a bite? :-)"

You might actually be surprised how much problems you can solve with just a bit of humour :-)

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Some thoughts...

First, your coworker does this because she is getting something out of it. Whatever satisfaction she gains from these mini-rants is not outweighed by social pressure or opprobrium. Let's keep this in mind.

Next, I note that there is a mix of at-work and semi-work social occasions here. These require different approaches.

Since you can't cut contact with her, it looks like you're going to have to invest in some techniques in shutting this sort of thing down.

At work, it is a lot easier to deflect this. "Can we focus here?", or "I really don't want to hear this" are good approaches.

At these social events, it's much easier to roll your eyes and go talk to someone else. Also, the norms are a little more relaxed. You can say "Will you knock it off with the [whatever] already? It's getting old."

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