I'm trying to quit smoking. I have become more irritable and my coworkers are making comments. One co-worker made reference to me to start smoking again so we can have a nice work environment. How should I respond to my coworkers?
Your co-worker suggesting that you resume smoking is a fool. Ignore them.
They probably meant it as a joke but to someone trying to improve their health and trying to kick a difficult addiction, it's a pretty lousy thing to say.
There are mountains of evidence documenting that quitting is the right thing to do. Please, stick with it. Power through it. If you need nicotine gum or a patch to wean yourself off it and in the process bring your mood back to "normal", do so. You might even find help in a local support group.
Quitting smoking is a good thing to do for you and your family. Stick with it. And surround yourself with people who are supportive, not this clown.
Not quite on the same scale, but I quit caffeine cold turkey one summer as part of a general health habits change. About a year later, my co-workers told me that I was not my normal pleasant self for much of that summer. But they never said anything about it. They knew I was trying to get myself into a healthier lifestyle and let/helped me get through the adjustment. This is the kind of person you need around you right now.
What do I do?
You continue the path, it will pass.
This isn't the right forum for medical advice on how to deal with the irritability but there are plenty of ways to reduce or eliminate it one way or another.
You just need to explain to your co-worker that this is what you are doing and if you don't go through with it now you'll be trying again and again in a few months, hopefully that makes them rethink their attitude.
I quit smoking about 5 years ago while I was working in an environment where around 50% of people smoked and we had a lot of down time where we'd pretty much sit around and chat on night shifts smoking like chimneys. When I quit I got the same thing you did (as well as the negative comments like "he'll never make it"). Stick to your decision, trust me it is the right one.
PS: For the record for my final quit what worked in the end was mist sprays. I calculated my daily nicotine intake when I was smoking, doubled it in the form of mist so in essence I was getting more nicotine in. Held that steady for about 3 months while I got used to being a "non-smoker". Then very gradually decreased the nicotine over another 6 months. Wasn't easy but after umpteen-dozen previous attempts this one worked for me.
I agree that the comment was probably meant as a joke, IMO a rather insensitive one. That said, there was probably a grain of truth in it, because you are more irritable at the moment, and they probably prefer the less irritable version or you.
My additional suggestion is for you to apologize (in a general way) for your current enhanced irritability, as a way to let your co-workers know that you are going thru a hard time at the moment and would appreciate their patience and support.
This answer may seem obvious, but it's really what you should do if you want them to stop.
Tell Them To Stop
You don't need to be rude or abrasive about this - and you should make it a point not to be - just tell them politely that you are trying to quit, and that you do not appreciate them discouraging your efforts. You also do not need an excuse for wanting to quit if pressed for a 'reason' - your health, your social life, your personal preference are all valid reasons to give, but you do not have to justify this choice to anyone.
It was pointed out in the comments that it sounds like these remarks are just 'jokes' at your expense - that being the case, you should make it clear that you do not appreciate these jokes, and ask them to stop. If you "grin and bear it" as some might suggest, they will simply keep making these jokes as if nothing's wrong - because you haven't indicated that they bother you at all. They might not like hearing it, but they won't know how you feel at all unless you say something.
They may still bother you about it, and they may even be very persistent in doing so - and each time, you should tell them to stop. If it begins to interfere with your work (but only if it truly interferes with your ability to work) then you can consider talking to your manager or HR about it - but otherwise, just keep saying "No".
Quitting is not always easy - there will always be people who want you to go back to a bad habit. Some will want to because they are part of it and don't want to quit, and some will just be jibbing you about your attitude. Telling them "No" is a full answer.
Be polite, but be firm.
Please ignore your coworker and anyone else who is making remarks. Show your colleagues that their behavior is having no effect on you. If pressed, just say something like "I am not smoking" and "please stop asking"
You have no need to justify anything to your colleague. What you decide to do for your health is a purely private matter, something your colleague has no right to dictate.
Your coworker can talk as much as he / she wants about how beneficial it would be to smoke, but at the end of the day, your conduct is controlled by you, so don't worry.
Let people know that you're quitting smoking and, while you'll do everything you can to not let it affect you, you appreciate that things are going to be different for people now. You could also (depending on your role) ask for management support to let you have some flexibility to work from other locations - for instance, if you can tell it's going to be a bad day or there're some stresses coming up (meetings, appraisals, etc.), that you have the time and space to destress without having to smoke. This could be working from home on a particular day, or agreeing that the time you once used for a smoking break is now time for you to go for a walk.
Above all, make sure people know that any irritability is due to your body adjusting, and it's short term while you acquire new strategies for dealing with stresses, and while your body gets used to the new reality.
Use it as motivation to stay quit
At least if you are the same personality type as I am, there is nothing that is more motivating than doing something out of righteous spite. If someone had told me something like that - I'd use every single syllable as motivation. Everytime I would want a cig, I'd remember that not smoking is annoying to that jackass, and take great satisfaction from not taking a cig.
If you can't beat them, kick them in the scrotum.
I quit drinking and smoking and friends kept making jokes for the next couple of weeks (some a bit longer), but in the end the jokes and comments stopped. People will get tired of making jokes and comments, so keep up the good work! Ignoring takes practice, the more you ignore your colleagues, the less you will be bothered. At the same time your mood will improve; being moody when quitting smoking is temporary. So keep up the good work!
I'd suggest you read Allen Carr's Easyway book. Not affiliated with it anyway, but it really is the only way to make it pleasant to quit smoking. What you're doing right now is using willpower, hence you are irritated because you feel something is lacking in your life.
There's a lot of misconceptions you need to change in order to make quitting pleasant. One of them for example is that you need to use willpower, or that it's normal to feel something lacking. But you can feel great about quitting if you go about it the right way.
The answer is to quit without becoming irritated. If you were happy about quitting, you would not feel irritated, you would feel heavy burden was lifted off your shoulders!
The co-workers tells you to smoke again, because they can sense you are agitated. Maybe it is even affecting them negatively. Even if they were just teasing you, and you were genuinely happy about quitting, you would shrug it off as a silly joke, and not make a big deal out of it.
Easyway book is the only way I know to quit without feeling agitated or feeling you lost a stress relief/crutch. Unfortunately I cannot change your misperceptions about cigarettes in a single post, hence why I can only point out the issue is that you have quit the wrong way, and refer to a book that can make you quit the right way.
I think it would be beneficial for you to take responsibility for the situation. I’m not saying you’re “in the wrong” or your coworkers are blameless. Fact of the matter is you’re all in it together.
First, acknowledge and apologize to your coworkers that you have been irritable lately and let them know that smoking has been difficult for you. This lets them know you understand that you all are in a difficult spot.
Then let them know you’re going to make a conscious effort about your mood. This lets them know you’re working on a solution.
Finally, thank them for their patience and support, even if you feel they have been very supportive. This lets them know they’re a part of the process.
If the comments like coworker’s don’t stop, either ignore them (as best as you can) or ask them to stop and let them know that they’re not helping the situation.
Your co-workers are secretly impressed that you have decided to give up smoking! This is their way of showing that they have taken it on board. You should see it as positive feedback. (Yes, I know, people are strange.)
Also, some of them are no doubt smokers, and they envy you for your iron will. Are these the ones who are giving you a hard time?
I was a 40-a-day man until I quit 25 years ago. My co-workers couldn't believe it, but their teasing was nothing but a positive incentive for me.
Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (if in the US)
Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (that is, 1-800-784-8669), if you are in the United States.
You will be connected to a coaching service provider overseen by your state government. After talking with you to write up a personal profile, they will help you develop a plan for quitting. This includes a variety of options and strategies for dealing with co-workers, family, friends, and other situations. They will help you craft specific responses to these challenges, customized for you individually. They will coach you through the process over time with periodic phone sessions.
A minimum level of service is provided free-of-cost, funded by the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement as part of the billions of dollars paid by the tobacco companies. You may qualify for additional support as well, through insurance or other benefits.
Let the pros assist you. Their techniques are informed by decades of medical research, scientific studies, and practical experience in tobacco cessation. Quitting is a complicated, ongoing process.
I worked briefly for one such service provider over a decade ago, so my familiarity with the program may be out-of-date. And program details will vary state-by-state. For more info:
The best way to avoid getting grumpy, and the best way to quit smoking in general, is to quit smoking by switching to vaping.
You can gradually lower the dose, in the span of a few months, preferably 8-12 months to be on the sure side. With the last 3-4 months vaping 0mg nicotine.
The only downside is that it requires quite a lot of reading. And possibly the need to mix your own liquid as it might not be readily available in your country. Especially the nicotine levels you might want (0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 mg etc).
If your co-workers are making jokes about your behavior at work you should take that seriously. Don't just expect your bosses will understand that you're trying to quit smoking. They might not understand how difficult it is to kick a drug habit.
They are saying this because they feel threatened by your actions. You have decided to put time, effort and willpower into quitting - they aren't at that stage and may believe that they don't have the strength to do what you are doing. They all know that smoking is bad for them and they would probably give up tomorrow if there was no personal cost to them, but there is and they haven't reached the point where giving up is more important than trying to bring you back into the group.
If you succeed, they will probably come to accept you as a non-smoker and stop baiting you. Who knows, you may start a trend, and you may actually save some lives! Keep trying, ignore their comments.
That is an outrageous thing for your co-worker to have said, even if it was a joke. I would escalate this as a disciplinary matter.
What should happen is that their boss should take them aside, and tell them to apologize for it. You will know better than us how to make that happen in your office.
If you don't want to escalate it like that, the alternative is to wait until (if) they do it again, and then challenge them with something like "So you are saying I should kill myself so you can have a peaceful life? Would you like to apologize for that?"