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I have a weird colleague who always wants to know what I am doing, like every single day. Having said that he is not my manager but he acts as if he is my boss.

Since I am an R&D engineer, I am developing applications for future use of the company and since I am still a student I am writing papers as well when I am getting a result but without revealing any info from the company.

I noticed some weird behaviors of him, here are some of them :

How to do not allow him to get on to my skin?

I should add one day my boss came to me and told my colleague is sometimes awkward and pushy, and I should not keep talking to him since he has other tasks to do.

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    Why is it a problem to you that they speak in native, to then, language? – Tymoteusz Paul Nov 28 '19 at 9:10
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    looks like rather blatant duplicate of Problems with loud, bossy colleague – gnat Nov 28 '19 at 9:36
  • "I should add one day my boss came to me and told my colleague is sometimes awkward and pushy, and I should not keep talking to him since he has other tasks to do." - Voila! – Captain Emacs Nov 28 '19 at 11:14
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As I understand, his behavior is very intentional, and multi-dimensional. You cannot really fix it by yourself without help from a third party.


I think that you should ask for advice from your manager. Make it simple:

Hello (boss). I need some advice from you. The situation is ... (and you describe what you told us).

He might ask you some questions, and he will extend some advice to you. Just go and do that.

It would be a great idea if you highlight the following:

  • you get interrupted in order to keep your colleague informed with the status of your work;
  • you get interrupted by the loud talk of the people around you, one of them being your colleague;
  • your work is hindered because by your colleague not sharing information with you, on the grounds of "intellectual property".

Bottom line: the problem is NOT your colleague, but the fact that you cannot perform properly at your job. That is the message that must get to your manager.


You added:

I should add one day my boss came to me and told my colleague is sometimes awkward and pushy, and I should not keep talking to him since he has other tasks to do.

That is another reason to report to your manager. Also, since your manager supports you, you can approach your colleague in a friendly / respectful manner with:

Hi (colleague). Please do not interrupt me, I am very busy now. Please discuss with (boss) the details of my work, I keep him informed regularly.

Or:

Please discuss this detail (whatever) with (boss). I do not have the right to make a decision about it, and I take my work instructions from him (the boss).

You can even go the extra step to thank him for his concern and willingness to help, and you excuse yourself for returning to your work.


Some other comments:

he tells "he does not want the company to collaborate with any university because of the intellectual properties, new applications will be for university"

Just tell him to discuss the problem with the company, since you cannot do anything about it. And then return to whatever you were doing, showing him that from your point of view the conversation ended.

he tried his best to convince my manager...

Not really your problem, the manager becomes more aware of your colleague's behavior.

he stops by my desk and asks what I am up to

Be short: "I'm working." And then return to whatever you were doing, showing him that from your point of view the conversation ended.

He told me "I am not an employee, he could not let me learn this stuff".

Those matters are not for him to decide. Whenever you need to learn something, discuss with your manager. If he disobeys and does not help you, report the new situation. It is your manager's role to organize proper trainings for you, with the proper people.

Since the new guy came, he does not share any new ideas with me anymore

Maybe it is even better, he does not bother you directly anymore.

while asking what I am up to, he tells you should do this, that,.., like a boss.

Just watch him while he talks and say nothing. And then return to whatever you were doing, showing him that from your point of view the conversation ended.


In a way, this is a fight by not fighting.

"To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." (Sun Tzu)

  • +1 for "talk to your manager". That's the right answer. – Player One Nov 28 '19 at 12:05
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How to do not allow him to get on to my skin?

There are a couple of ways you can handle this:

Professionally (recommended):

Great idea! Why don't you take it up with [your actual boss]

Snarky (not recommended)

I'm sorry, I cannot let you know due to intellectual property reasons.

(Is it complete BS? Yes. Is it complete BS when they use that reason? Also yes. The thing is you are an employee. If there are any IP-related things in your job of any concern, they should already have been in your contract and you should have signed NDAs.)

he tells "he does not want the company to collaborate with any university because of the intellectual properties, new applications will be for university"

[facepalms] That is not how IP laws work. If you perform research under the contract of a company, it is the company you are under contract to that gets the IP rights. Any past (or present, in the case of an intern) universities get no say in the matter.

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    My feeling is that the way they are worded, both your examples are actually aggressive, even though the aggression is concealed as irony, sarcasm, superiority. It would be more helpful to rephrase, in order to make them friendlier. – virolino Nov 28 '19 at 9:34
  • @virolino about the same strength as "Please discuss this detail (whatever) with (boss). I cannot make a decision about it, and I take my work instructions from him." Oh that was your example, but you get my drift. BTW, the tone of voice makes a huge difference... – Solar Mike Nov 28 '19 at 10:04
  • @SolarMike: It is not about the strength, it is about the presence / absence of sarcasm. "why don't you..." is aggressive regardless of the tone of the voice and regardless of who tells / writes it. "I cannot make a decision" is just mentioning a fact. Glass can take a lot of pressure without damage, but it cannot handle shocks. – virolino Nov 28 '19 at 10:14
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    @virolino calling "why don't you..." full-on aggressive is a bit...pushing it. Assertive? Sure, which is exactly what is needed in this situation. – 520 says Reinstate Monica Nov 28 '19 at 10:22
  • @520saysReinstateMonica: unfortunately, I have the experience when even really everyday talk was regarded as aggressive and I had to suffer ugly consequences - with the kind of people like the guy in the story above. In these situations it is much more recommended to avoid conflict, rather than "what is needed". Ideally, the conflict moves to the people who have the authority to deal with it. – virolino Nov 28 '19 at 10:28

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