10

I started this new job (first full-time job out of college) almost two months ago and I am still in training. There was a holiday party on Friday and some of my colleagues and I stuck around for a little longer and went to a bar. One of my co-workers got extremely drunk and started picking on me in front of everybody. He was shouting things like, "NO OFFENSE, BUT YOU DON'T KNOW diddly. THE PERSON WHO THINKS THEY'RE THE SMARTEST IN THE ROOM IS THE STUPIDEST." Things like, "YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO LAST LONG HERE." ................... I was in total disbelief but just laughed it off.

Personally, I don't think I come off as being the smartest person in the room at all... I have no shame to ask questions the times I need help - because he's right, I don't know as much as anyone else, but I am trying my best to learn. I never hesitate to ask him questions and he never seems bothered when he lends me a hand and that's why the things he said surprised me. An FYI, he also graduated about 3 years ago and this was also his first job out of college.

I was also really bothered when it was just me and him at one point and he gave me a hug and told me I'm actually really smart and an incredible person, one of the best people I've worked with, and giving me advice on how to work in an office setting as a first time job............(??!???!?!?)

One of my supervisors came up to me and told me to not listen to him - he's drunk and very aggressive. I bawled my eyes out and have been all weekend. Today's Sunday and I am extremely anxious to go into work tomorrow.

I understand he was drunk and I could just let it go, but I may also have anxiety because of the job itself. The office setting is SO hostile and gets me nervous everyday I work there. Everyone feels like they are in control of everyone and verbally abuses others. Not only do I feel emotionally drained (and I know I shouldn't because its JUST work) but it's also physically. I all the sudden get headaches almost everyday and sharp stomach pains every single day. The job isn't stressful, but I realized after this incident, it may be the people around me.

My question is, in my case, what would you do?

  • 18
    You are getting quite a few divergent views here, everything from ignore it to complex retaliation. It would be helpful if you could narrow down the outcome you want. – Matthew Gaiser Dec 16 '19 at 4:36
  • 2
    We can't tell you what to do; that's something you need to decide. – Erik Dec 16 '19 at 9:26
  • 5
    For what happened at the bar I would say just wait and see if this colleague apologizes. But your last paragraph is way worse and I would say just quit your job. – Destal Dec 16 '19 at 11:26
  • 18
    He humiliated himself, not you. – Bee Dec 16 '19 at 13:48
  • 1
    @StumpedMoneyHacker what gave you that impression? – Bee Dec 16 '19 at 13:49

12 Answers 12

29

Remember you are not the person who was yelling inappropriate comments at a colleague. You were not humiliated. Don't say anything about the incident, except for thanking anyone who makes a supportive comment.

The real problem seems to be the everyday work stress described near the end of the question. You mention "One of my supervisors". It may be better to try to get into a situation in which you have exactly one supervisor. Leave the office politics to that person and concentrate on doing your own job well.

| improve this answer | |
17

The office setting is SO hostile and gets me nervous everyday I work there. Everyone feels like they are in control of everyone and verbally abuses others. Not only do I feel emotionally drained (and I know I shouldn't because its JUST work) but it's also physically. I all the sudden get headaches almost everyday and sharp stomach pains every single day.

This is much more serious issue than the incident you mentioned.

My question is, in my case, what would you do?

You can either ignore the incident or report it to HR as this is still some form of "workplace harassment". However, you need to take bigger action independently. If your work atmosphere is as bad as it sounds in the last paragraph, you should just look for other place to work for. If you are suffering at emotional and physical level and hearing abuses all day (even if they are not directed to you), it is simply not the environment anyone should work in.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    This, and also: document everything, not on a work computer. In a better workplace "report it to HR or the guy's supervisor" would be the right answer, but unfortunately it sounds like this organisation doesn't take such things seriously. – Geoffrey Brent Dec 16 '19 at 20:47
11

Where I come from, a man or woman who can’t hold her drink and starts talking nonsense when they get drunk are not humiliating anyone but themselves.

If I had witnessed it, I wouldn’t take the slightest negative notice of what was said to you (in other words, your reputation with me is absolutely fine), but the person insulting you would have a big black mark in my book under “drinks but can’t handle alcohol, therefore cannot be trusted in social situations, and cannot be allowed contact with customers”.

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 for the first paragraph. Doubly true in a formal-ish setting such as an office party where you are expected to know your limits and drink responsibly. – Working Title Dec 16 '19 at 22:31
6

My question is, in my case, what would you do?

I would laugh it off, knowing that it's simply what drunk people do.

If I was really bothered by the incident, I wouldn't go to a bar after next year's party.

| improve this answer | |
  • 23
    'it's simply what drunk people do' Being drunk is not a "get out of jail free card", and not an excuse for obnoxious or harassing behavior. If I was really bothered by the incident, I wouldn't go to a bar after next year's party.' So the person who didn't exhibit obnoxious and harassing behavior is the one who has their options curtailed? – Charles E. Grant Dec 16 '19 at 2:21
  • 4
    Very much this. I am yet to see a drinking office party (for more than micro teams) without at least one scandal like this one. It's what it is, I've seen some people fired over this, some others who quit, and making a big deal over such scandals never goes down well for anyone, victim included. And it's probably best to just skip the bar part next time, that's what I do. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 16 '19 at 7:20
  • 2
    @CharlesE.Grant What approach would you recommend to OP? If you have any fruitful ideas, consider posting them as an answer, so that folks can upvote. – Lumberjack Dec 16 '19 at 17:03
5

Adding insult to injury, I 'd like to bring this to attention:

The office setting is SO hostile and gets me nervous everyday I work there. Everyone feels like they are in control of everyone and verbally abuses others.

Considering your drunk and out of control colleague and the hostile work environment, I'd just ignore the drunk guy and start looking for another job ASAP.

No one, absolutely no one, has to endure hostile and abusive colleagues. You deserve better. No job is worth your mental or physical health.

Also, one of your supervisors is already aware of what happened and just told you to let it go. Complaining will do no good.

| improve this answer | |
3

It depends on why this bothers you and what you want out of it

You need to get to the bottom of why exactly you are upset about this. I am going to list some options below. None of them are meant to be judgemental, so please don't take it that way if that is how they sound.

  • Is it a confidence thing? You thought you were doing well and you were told otherwise?

  • Is it an image thing? Are you concerned about seeming like the weak link?

  • Is it a "I need my co-workers to like me" attitude?
  • Is it a fear of a bad result (if this co-worker is managerial in any way) on your performance review?
  • Were you already feeling bad at work and was this the straw that broke the camel's back?

In my case, I don't care about any of those things. I haven't a clue what most of my current co-workers think of me and I do not care. But I am also the kind of person who you can yell at and I will just stare at you blankly and smirk. If it is one of those, you need to know so you can figure out how to deal with it.

In this case, I would have either ignored him with a big eye roll(in broader company or with my boss) or made a remark about him being stuck as "he has been in his job three years without promotion" (to a friendly co-worker). I would then say "good morning" in the morning and let him figure his way out of the awkwardness. That would probably be the end of it. My question barrage would continue unimpeded with less consideration for how it impacts him knowing that he was the one who said I needed to learn more.

However, I am also averse to direct confrontation because war is costly. Others would demand a public apology. Some like Joe in the other answer would do nothing. Others might go to human resources and get a note put in his file. It depends on what you want out of this.

My strategy has the benefit of costing me nothing with the boss, giving me leeway to ask evermore questions (as I clearly need it due to "not knowing shit"), and putting the mess entirely on his plate. The guy is probably annoyed at you for asking too many questions. However, his actions essentially now make it so that you can continue to do so and his ability to complain about it is reduced. Take advantage.

Today's Sunday and I am extremely anxious to go into work tomorrow.

Carefully consider what exactly is making you anxious about going into work tomorrow. Then ask yourself, what would fix it? What outcome do you want?

| improve this answer | |
  • Not wanting to have to go into work and sit alongside someone who is actively abusive and threatening is an outcome every employee should expect as a basic right, on the level of having breathable oxygen. I'm not sure why you think the OP needs to analyse it any more than that. – Graham Dec 16 '19 at 11:38
  • @Graham What approach would you recommend to OP? If you have any fruitful ideas, consider posting them as an answer, so that folks can upvote. – Lumberjack Dec 16 '19 at 17:15
  • @Lumberjack Already answered by Patricia and PagMax, for my take on it. – Graham Dec 16 '19 at 21:25
2

One of my supervisors came up to me and told me to not listen to him - he's drunk and very aggressive.

That - to me - sound very much like you should not be the one nervous

  • The behavior was noted by your boss
  • your boss made it clear to you how he sees it
  • I am sure that your boss will make it clear to the boss of the person in question, too.
| improve this answer | |
1

People who make comments such as these are often overcompensating for their own insecurities. There is likely no personal issue with you, as the colleague indicated one-on-one later. It is in extreme likelihood that this colleague cannot handle their alcohol well and they are the one who should be embarrassed of their actions, not you.

It sounds as if you are conflating your own issues with your workplace with this incident. Which as a standalone incident is something easily brushed off. It's easy to feel intimidated by your first workplace outside of College/University, as you are so inexperienced not only on the job but to the workplace itself. If you are really concerned about your anxiety then speak with a manager or mentor and explain your struggles with the environment and you might find that they will have gone through exactly the same experience that you are having, and might well have some great advice on how to adjust to work life.

| improve this answer | |
0

The office setting is SO hostile and gets me nervous everyday I work there. Everyone feels like they are in control of everyone and verbally abuses others. Not only do I feel emotionally drained (and I know I shouldn't because its JUST work) but it's also physically.

I think as an aside to the rude colleague these points seem to be most relevant to your underlying issue. Personally, I think you should use this opportunity as a motivator to look for another job.

One of my supervisors came up to me and told me to not listen to him - he's drunk and very aggressive.

As oppose to immediately stopping the behavior? Being out in public is one thing, but this Christmas party is by extension an office event and should follow the same standards you'd expect out of any office. My thought is your supervisor should have immediately stopped the behavior and told the coworker to go home especially if the coworker is being aggressive towards someone else.

Overall this is a good sign that you should change jobs: 1) bad coworkers who can't control themselves, and 2) bad managers who aren't willing to step in and do the right thing.

| improve this answer | |
0

The answer is that it depends on the work culture in your company. If your company does not tolerate jerks, then report it to your manager in email. Mention the place, time and the employees who witnessed the incident. If your company tends to promote jerks (like a well known transportation company :) ), then start looking for a new job. Mention the issue in your exit interview. While you are at the company, be pragmatic, and avoid bars and the jerk. Ideally, he should be the one to avoid bars. But, life is not ideal or fair.

Moreover, the jerk's apologies and hugs mean nothing. Many jerks apologize for their rude behavior only so that they can avoid getting into trouble and keep repeating the same behavior.

Good luck.

| improve this answer | |
0

Ignore the drunk but not the symptoms of anxiety.

Evaluate for yourself if you can change anything that causes those symptoms in your organisation. If not, get ready to leave. Your health is more important than any job.

| improve this answer | |
0

I have read the 11 posted answers so far, and I think if I experienced this a few months into my first job, the advice provided might not have helped me. So, here are a few things to consider:

First, some companies operate this way: dysfunctional and terrible to some people, like you, but exciting and engaging to the people that participate. You do not have to like it, or participate. However, you also need a job and it isn't clear how much you should try to "conform" to a company like this vs. seek another job (which could be worse, as you probably have already imagined).

There are 2 things to address, first is handling your well-being, and the second is understanding how to handle your career.

I all the sudden get headaches almost everyday and sharp stomach pains every single day. The job isn't stressful, but I realized after this incident, it may be the people around me.

If you can, seek professional counseling to help you manage your stress. Ideally, talk in detail with counselor or coach to get perspective on how to personally manage your stress and symptoms. I had a job that gave me headaches for a full six months, but it was worth it to me to overcome the challenge. In your case, it sounds unlikely that you would want to tolerate your work environment "as is" but you should never feel helpless that you can't feel better, even when you are in a bad situation. Please seek help, if not professional, find a religious or other support group to help manage your stress.

I understand he was drunk and I could just let it go

Letting it go is not really an option. You will be anxious if you do not in some way address this. The company culture suppresses handling emotionally difficult issues. Some comments make this sound like supervisors will "handle this" or they will in some way empathize with you, but they have told you to ignore it, so you can assume they are ignoring it also.

I had a manager yell at me once, in front of my manager even. Neither one of them addressed it with their boss. When I finally had a conversation with their boss (by chance on a business trip), he was shocked and embarrassed that it happened.

So try to talk to your manager. Make that person clearly aware of what happened. Ask the manager if something can be done to prevent a reoccurrence. If your manager is not open to directly addressing the issue, let it rest - it probably is not wise to make demands or try to change things. If the manager wants to address the issue and asks what you need, be prepared with a list of outcomes like: assurance that at the next company party, someone will either limit his alcohol consumption, a conversation with the offending party about his behavior and a promise not to repeat it, an apology to you in front of the manager, etc.

If you manager is the type to tell you that you are "overreacting" or something, you are probably not a good fit for the company. Since most companies really don't have problems or cultures like this, it is likely you can find another company that suites you better. If your manager is not helpful, simply thank them for their time, tell them you will be fine and can figure it out. You just wanted to get their perspective. A person like that could hurt your situation. It is not worth the risk.

It is probably best you address this after a few days have passed, so that people know you are serious and this is not a reflex reaction to what may be "normal" for the company. As a member of the company, even a new one, you do have some influence in how the company culture is molded going forward. This is especially true if you talk to a counselor and they are able to affirm your concerns and provide more detailed and personalized guidance.

My question is, in my case, what would you do?

Seek counseling - starting your career after university is stressful, and you are very stressed. Learning to cope with stress is a valuable, life-long skill.

That said, this seems excessive and terrible for you, and probably you are not a good fit for the company. Try to talk to a manager or supervisor, and try to be clear about what happened. If that fails, consider that you should probably find a place where you fit better. Then take comfort that you can find a better place in life while having to endure this part of it.

If you focus and work on this, you will be better for it when it is done. And don't despair, you sound articulate, reasonable and intelligent. The best response to inappropriate behavior is to compose yourself and to be appropriate nonetheless.

Good luck!

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .