Basically, I work in a small company that usually will have 4-5 fulltime workers at a time in the office. There are separate rooms in the office, and I share a room with a co-worker who I will call 'Tim'. Everyone in the office is either family, or has known each other for 5 years or so, and several of those years were outside of the work environment, except Tim only came into the workplace about a year ago from now.

My main problem is that Tim likes to make the same comments, jokes, and remarks on a daily basis. Because we are the only ones that share a room, it seems to only be me that notices all the strange behaviour.

Once, Tim made a joke about 'getting an all-day carpark, and said did you get one?' Knowing that I didn't, I was thinking 'okay, your just trying to fit in with the friendly teasing culture, knowing that everyone else is comfortable with each other to be that way.'

Although it was okay at first, the problem is he just doesn't stop, he keeps saying it every fricking day. I have to tell him several times that the joke is getting old and is completely dead, but no Tim will persist a little longer, and then do the exact same thing with another joke that I will also think is not that funny.

The thing that is strangest is that Tim makes comments and whisper my name to himself such as 'Sam sucks' or 'Sam stinks', sort of like a 5-year-old. I asked him why he keeps making those remarks so randomly, but he used this as an excuse 'My dog is called Sam, so I get used to saying that'. I think that is a poor excuse, since the dog is not there, and the way he does it, seems very directed at me.

Nowadays, Tim has stopped saying those remarks, but there is always something else he will say repetitively. Every time Timmy has an issue, now he uses my name as a some type of curse word, and will mumble things like 'Oh Sammy Sammy sam', when he is frustrated by things, and he is not actually talking or asking something to me.

Anyways, its not just the fact that the jokes and remarks he makes are strange, but its also the repetitiveness, and persistance. I've tried talking to him about a few things before, but what makes it hard is that I am not sure of his motive behind it all. I'm also not sure if he ever understands what I am trying to say, as he will just switch from one stupid joke to another stupid one, when I call him out on it.

I am not sure if the reason is its Tim's insecurity of not feeling like he fits in with everyone else, or if he just has a really weird sense of humour, or if he has some type of social/mental problem or disorder, or if he is secretly trying to rub me the wrong way as he feels threatened by my position in the company.

Often he comes across nice, and actually caring, in some ways too much, because if I have a personal doctor appointment and leave early, Tim will flat out ask "Oh what is the appointment for, is everything okay?" Which I don't want to answer to him, because I still don't know him that well, and honestly it could be nothing important.

Tim also has the habit of interrupting conversations that I have with other people in the office, which is really annoying, because sometimes its very obviously a conversation that should include just me and the person I am talking to, but he will jump in straight away with his opinion, sometimes before I have the chance to answer the person I am talking with.

Anyways, if there is anything you could suggest, that would be great. I just want to respond to him in a mature way, that is multi-perspective, and can see the potential bigger picture. However, it seems unclear what that is right now, and I am just growing angry and tired of him, because its all constant. I'm also not keen on constantly pulling him up, each and every time he does something strange, only for him to do something else that is strange afterwards.

Any suggestions on how to approach this, and best deal with this, would be appreciated?

  • 4
    What exactly would you like as an end result? If this has been going on for so long, seems it's just part of who he is.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 9:29
  • 3
    Might be worth it to check this out
    – mustaccio
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 17:58
  • 2
    Some noise-cancelling headphones might help.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 6:12
  • You might want to anonymise your account, if Tim goes to TWP you might have other kind of jokes on you...
    – LP154
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 16:18
  • 1
    Related: Dealing with nosy co-workers, What can I do about a very loud coworker?
    – MikeQ
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


I believe, you should ask your manager to change your room/office. Tell them Tim is not a bad guy but he distracts you and you want to perform better. Use adverbs and adjectives to convey the seriousness of your request, they should understand it is of great importance to you.

Avoid any verbal engagement with Tim.

  • 2
    Thanks for that, I have talked to my manager, and if there is an opportunity for it, then sure, but it makes very little sense practically (finanace people with finance people, marketing people with marketing people etc.) for where things are at, and we are a small company so not as easy.
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 9:08
  • 1
    @Sam I sorry to hear that, but good luck
    – Iman Nia
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 11:48

It's possible that this is hostile behaviour, but to me it sounds more like coprolalia: a neurological condition that causes "involuntary swearing or the involuntary utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks".

Coprolalia is a bit like a stutter or a facial tic, compulsive behaviour that the person can't easily control. The joke-telling would fit in with this - people with a compulsive behaviour often have more than one form of compulsive behaviour.

We aren't psychiatric professionals here and can't diagnose your co-worker, but my first guess would be that this is a compulsive behaviour that he can't do much about. As long as this is all he's doing, I'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and treat it the same way I would somebody with a stutter.

  • I would wonder that if he did it in an unvoluntary way. But he seems to know very well what he is wanting to say, and intends to say it, and awaits for me to respond. That said I dont know enough about this disorder, so not sure. I generally like to give a benefit of doubt, that he doesnt intend to cause problems, but still feel I need to figure a way to sort this sitution or atleast reduce the affect it has on me.
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 9:17
  • 1
    @Sam It surely isn't the same for everyone, but I've known some people with other types of compulsion disorders. For one person with compulsive hand washing they described it as a sort of "pressure" in their mind that they could override or delay to a degree. However, it makes his mind scream in objection if he doesn't eventually give in and "obey" the compulsion. If it gets to that point he will literally stop everything to walk out of his current location until he gets to a place where he can do it. If he can't leave, he will just stop functioning until opportunity presents itself.
    – Booga Roo
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 19:42
  • 1
    @Sam Plus, it's also possible he's doing it in a joking way as a compensation for how he knows it affects others and that's been the most successful way at defusing the situation. Unfortunately, as you say, you still need to get out of the situation or reduce the effects on you. Best of luck.
    – Booga Roo
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 19:50
  • @BoogaRoo yeah, I've heard it described as like an itch - you have some choice about when you scratch, but it's almost impossible to put it off forever.
    – G_B
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 5:00

It is hard to determine with a certainty why Tim acts this way. I guess\suspect he may be trying to become involved\chat at any cost - like a child who is ignored so they act up to get any type of attention. I suspect this because of the repetition, as if he is out of material, the butting into conversations he is not in, the use of your name in that way to try and invoke a response, even if negative.

You are in the room alone with Tim, do you talk to him in general or do you work in silence trying to avoid conversation?

A simple redirection of conversation as soon as you hear the joke coming may distract, and I do not know if policy allows but a bit of periodic chit-chat may be enough to alter his behavior to tolerable.

Update:I would try and establish some type of phrase you use when need to get down to work. Something like "nice chat but I have to get this report done now Tim" and then if you are able in your work, accompany with headphones + music. In a sense you need to train him that jokey jokey is okay, but when you have to get down to it, he needs to stop but removing yourself from hearing him.

  • Thanks for your message back, Ive been working with Tim for about a year, and Ive tried to talk to him just about normal things, often Ill even make jokes to him myself (not repetitive ones). I try to come across friendly, but I make it obvious when he is pushing the boundaries. Usually I thought if you ignore when someone keeps doing the same annoying thing to you it will stop, but for Tim, he doesnt seem to get the hint.
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 5:09
  • 2
    I would try and establish some type of phrase you use when need to get down to work. It may be my personality but if he were to repeat jokes over and over, I would joke about that. Something like "nice chat but I have to get this report done now Tim" and then if you are able in your work, accompany with headphones + music. In a sense you need to train him that jokey jokey is okay, but when you have to get down to it, he needs to stop but removing yourself from hearing him.
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 17:32
  • @Chris That comments sounds useful. Maybe incorporate that into your answer.
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 18:20
  • Yeah, I suppose its just sometimes he is good to talk with and has some good jokes, but alot of the time its strange and leaves you wondering or confused. It will often be that I cant keep faking that I find his sense of humor funny, and even if i dont fake it and make it clear that its not funny, then he doesnt seem to get the signal. He also doesnt seem to get the signal of 'im tired' or 'Im too busy to joke' even when im pretty forward. But yes i have been using headphones quite often, but unfortunately the nature of the work often doesnt allow for headphones.
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 9:14

Bit late to the party here, I hope you resolved this in the end. He is doing this to get a reaction. He knows it annoys you, if I was Tim I would keep it up because he wound you up enough for you to ask strangers on the internet for help. That is his goal to drive you nuts. It makes his day bettter and more fun

I bet the pandemic has stopped you from working together but I think to beat this you need to take his fun away. Either dont react at all or stonewall his jokes and fire a few back.

Give him a nickname and use it, if his name is tim call him tiny. This sounds petty and you dont have to be confrontational at all. But trust me he is enjoying it, takes this away or find a subtle way to fight back and it will slow down. It might never stop fully as it is his thing but you can slow it down.

A funny way might be, when fires a joke, feign being stupid and ask what he means or for a deeper explanation and when he tries to explain go deeper.

My dog is called sam Why did you call your dog sam/thanks you didnt have to name it after me. And keep.going until the point it is absurd and then go some more. Why was your grandfathers best friend called sam ifnhe was born in 1905 and why did you name a dog aftwr him that kinda stuff The dog thing in particular, sam stinks. Fire back well why dont you wash your dog then? Or well they say dogs often take after their owner.

Like i said its petty but it is street stuff. If you dont push back its gonna keep coming, even more if you say please don't

Anyway I am sure this is not relavent all this time latet. Just remember it is often your reaction these people are after.

  • The response to schoolyard behavior in a professional environment should never be to engage in schoolyard behavior of your own. I did not downvote this, but the people who did might be having a negative reaction to your suggestion to engage in unprofessional behavior as a solution.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 17:02

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