An external colleague asked me if I was "being snarky?" when I told one of his report I had already sent them something they asked for. Am I right to find this unprofessional?

For context I am a development tech lead with a small group of developers reporting directly to me. I've been working with my company for 5 years and with this team for 4. I am the only female developer in my group, but I have always felt like a regular part of the team.

For the past year we have been contracting with an implementation partner. I share the tech lead work with another lead on their side. We generally get along pretty well, but there have been times where he treats me differently than the rest of the team.

  • When trying to convince me that his opinion is more valid than mine he will reference his years of experience with this platform or with development in general, seemingly dismissing my own years of experience.
  • Whenever he disagrees with me he talks in a condescending manner, saying things like "it is just logical" and "this is common sense".
  • When I am actively attempting to address a concern with him he sometimes ignores my messages entirely, starting new and unrelated discussions.

Other members of the team have come to me in private to offer support when they notice the disrespect. I have continually shrugged it off, let it go, and continued acting in a firm but professional manner with him.

The other day, I was conversing in our development team chat that spans both my team and the partner team. One of the partner team's developers stated that they were missing some code they needed. I informed them that I had sent it to them last week. I then provided the block of code they needed again, they thanked me, and the chat continued as normal. Half an hour later, the other tech lead dropped this in the group channel:

Just so I am clear. Was your reply intended to be snarky?

This threw me for a loop. I checked back at what I had said, it was very matter-of-fact, but not overtly rude. I replied "No, just pointing out that I sent it last week".

I found this interaction very offensive and unprofessional. Asking that in a group chat with all of my direct reports felt demeaning. I didn't say anything at the time. Thinking about it I am certain he would not have said it if I were male. He has not said anything like that to anyone else in my presence, including developers on his team who are being intentionally rude.

I am considering bringing this behavior to my manager's attention. Am I over-reacting, or is this as unprofessional as I think it is?

  • 32
    "I found this interaction very offensive and unprofessional." - why not take it in your stride? It doesn't sound like your own position is at stake, or that your own performance is in question, so there is no need to react with undue strength of feeling. Aim to be a lion-tamer who can tolerate a certain amount of noise and confrontation, and don't let things "throw you for a loop". Provided they aren't tinged with bitterness but instead convey wry humour, timely interjections and barbs like "you're not the only one here with years of experience" can be appropriate replies.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 1:35
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    @Steve Thank you, I like that way of thinking! :)
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 2:19
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    The thing you seem to be offended about seems to me to be the least offensive thing in your description of this person's behavior. It's the other stuff, IMO, that needs to be addressed directly and firmly. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 13:43
  • 1
    Is this contracted implementation partner a separate company? Or just a different department in the same company? The question doesn't make it clear. Contracted would seem to imply that they are outsiders. Outside contractors will mock the locals; are you familiar with 1990's Dilbert comic scripts? ;)
    – Kaz
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 0:02
  • 1
    So that is to say, do you have any boss in common at all, at some level of the organization at all? Is there rivalry at the next level down?
    – Kaz
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 0:12

14 Answers 14


I am considering bringing this behavior to my manager's attention. Am I over-reacting, or is this as unprofessional as I think it is?

I suggest you don't.

You are acting as professional and mature as possible. Keep doing that. This person seems to be acting unprofessionally, and that is their loss.

Your reply was not rude nor snarky in my opinion (if any, this other Lead's was, and if others have noticed this in the past your manager is surely aware also).

  • I am interested to see what perspectives come through in other answers, but this was the direction I was leaning. Thank you so much for the advice!
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 1:41
  • 55
    but consider keeping some records of the exchanges. at the moment it seems this person is only making themselves look bad, but if things escalate to the point where you need to raise an issue, it will be useful to have the history. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 13:05
  • @WoodrowBarlow good suggestion. Although it's very likely the chat platform and emails used by OP's company are already backed up or easily auditable. (but yes, good suggestion)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 1:31
  • As the OP did not include the exact wording, we can't speak with certainty as to whether her response could be seen as snarky. Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 2:28
  • 6
    @Acccumulation: False, OP says in comment: "Sure, here were my exact words: '"I sent that to you last week. Let me look'" Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 16:52

I found this interaction very offensive and unprofessional.

It was. It's one thing to ask this question, it's another to do that in front of an audience. That sends its own message and compounded with the other behaviour you describe it sounds like it could be deliberate. Certainly the fact that your reports have expressed support in the face of those incidents is a worrying sign that this person is intentionally dismissive.

That said, it could be that this guy is simply severely lacking when it comes to social grace. So it's worth approaching it with that lens and assuming some level of good faith for now. Perhaps he did somehow read more into your exchange with his report than you intended and he was honestly concerned.

What I'd suggest is to call this guy. This isn't a conversation to have over instant messaging because you want to gauge his tone. Explain that you were sorry to see that he thought you might have been snarky because you'd never be snarky with a colleague. Then go on to explain that in future if he has any concerns like that that he should take those to you directly rather than dumping it in a public channel. Make it clear that you don't appreciate being put on the spot in that fashion, just like he wouldn't appreciate you raising hypothetical issues with their team in that way.

Then see how he reacts. Perhaps it's all a misunderstanding and you were both reading too much into some simple chat messages which can easily happen. Or perhaps he's deliberately antagonistic and the behaviour you've seen is indeed deliberately adversarial. At that point you address it more directly and point out that you expect to be treated professionally and don't appreciate behaviours X and Y. Maybe even ask him to commit to that. Example: "I hope I'm reading you wrong but when you aired those concerns in the group chat it felt weirdly dismissive of me and my role in this project so while I hope something like this won't come up again, if it does I do need to ask you to raise any concerns you have with me or my team directly with me. Can we agree to that?"

If he reacts with hostility or more dismissive behaviour, only then would I loop your manager in. If I were managing you and you came to me with this, the first thing I'd ask was whether you discussed it with the other lead and what you've done to address the behaviour.

A small note on gender: while it sounds like it could be a factor, at this stage I would opt to ignore that and treat this as a personality conflict between team leads. In most cases of workplace conflict you first want to focus on the behaviour not the motivation.

  • 11
    I think this is great advice, clearly something needs to be done because this grates on the OPs nerves. However i don't think the OP should sound apologetic, she did nothing wrong. I think it would be more professional to just state: "In the future raise any concerns you have with me or my team directly with me. Can we agree to that?" Without much explanation. After the "How are you today? I want to discuss our chat of the other week ..."
    – Ivana
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 9:06
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    @Ivana A valid alternative. I'd advise opening soft as it allows the person to save face and is itself less adversarial. Very often people will also go along with you if you play to their good nature, even if they don't have one. Essentially you'd be saying "Of course you don't want to insult me in front of my team" which makes it hard for them to say otherwise.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 10:38
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    "it could be that this guy is simply severely lacking when it comes to social grace" -- probably not when other members of her team have gone out of their way to sympathize with how crappy this guy is being. " Explain that you were sorry" -- I would absolutely not do that, it gives the other guy power and motivation to imagine that he's the aggrieved party here and keep it as a grudge, making things worse. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 13:23
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    Sometimes, as a programmer I have to remind myself to be a little less literal and a little more human. It took a lot of hard lessons for me to get that myself. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 21:05
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    +1 for focusing on behavior vs motivation. It's too hard to be right about motivation. Much easier to identify behavior that isn't acceptable in the workplace.
    – DSway
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 21:09

It really strikes me that this is coming, not from someone you work directly with, but from an implementation partner; I think that's significant. This is a technical person whose boss has decided not to ask them to code some work but to hire your company to do it.

I get the impression - consciously or not - this person is trying to find faults in you and your work because they feel threatened and insulted by you. Your gender could well be a factor in that but if they're not saying anything openly misogynic, focus on what you know for certain: they're a jerk who's being deliberately dismissive of you and hard to work with.

I wouldn't push this particular incident any further but I would recommend documenting this person's behaviour. Screenshot these kind of messages and emails and establish a pattern. It's difficult to be taken seriously if you complain about one-off incidents like this; workplaces don't want drama so you'll be expected to be the bigger person and forgive them.

A pattern is harder to ignore. A pattern shows someone is being deliberately disruptive and difficult and behaving in a way that needs to change.

I don't know your set-up and what would be best past documenting; you might want to go to your boss with evidence of this person's bad behaviour and push to lead the project with someone else. But since this is a partner group, your boss may prefer to move you to another project than deal with the drama of confronting a customer about a bad worker. It's worth considering if that's a result you'd be all right with before you take this further.

Either way, it might help your sanity to push back against this person a little. Be curt - but polite - insist on getting answers, and keep everything strictly work-focused.

'It's just common sense.'

'I need a firm answer from you - X or Y?'

'Well, I have 5 years of experience in blah.'

'Regardless, X is the best solution because of Y and Z.'

'New, unrelated discussion!'

'Before we go onto that, have I answered your question about X?'

'Just so I am clear. Was your reply intended to be snarky?'

'My reply wasn't snarky. Please keep this chat clear for work - we've all got a lot to get on with.'

This person seems to have already decided they don't like you and they're trying to make your life difficult. Needlessly accusing you of being difficult to work with in front of your teams - and having people who witnessed their bad behaviour and felt the need to comfort you afterwards!! - makes that clear.

You're never going to win them on side or be their friend. So limiting the time you're working with them to have clear, to-the-point discussion is going to make things a lot easier for you.

  • thank you for your very thoughtful and detailed response! I feel that in particular the responses to their specific go-to talking points are very helpful. I actually have done some of these already, so it's nice to hear that someone else would have done the same :)
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 17:51
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    @mjjf I would add that it might be worth emailing the dev and asking if he felt insulted. If he wasn't, now you also have that in writing. It concerns me that the other lead accused you of being snarky in writing, as if he's trying to document your bad behavior. If it comes to that it may help to be able to prove that you caused no offense.
    – BSMP
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 20:51

Given the evidence, it seems pretty easy to believe that the other team lead is a misogynist and engaged in an ongoing series of microaggressions. In this case, it came out that he made a mistake that you could easily fix, you gained the respect of the rest of his team, and he felt the need to undercut you on it. No one else on either your team or his seems to act the same way as he does. The problem with these kinds of microaggressions is that no single one of them really meets a threshold that seems worthy of escalating to a higher level.

However, the overall trend is clear at this point. Depending on your relationship with your manager, I would consider verbally informing them that you have a relational problem with the guy, and describing maybe the 3 worst incidents to date. Just so they're aware if things take a further downturn.

For me, when I identify someone in the institution as exhibiting sociopathic behavior, I try my hardest to limit interactions to the bare minimum, not share any personal information, and keep things on the coolest professional level I can. As one example, in response to the, "Was your reply intended to be snarky?" question, I would have likely just said, "No", and nothing else at this point. Understood that may be hard to make work in your current situation. At any rate, he's basically burned any right to have his feelings safety-bumpered at this point.

I would avoid advice such as having a one-to-one conversation with the guy on your working relationship; I expect that can only make things worse. Have all communications in a documented format (e.g., email) or in a venue with other observers (CYA).

  • 10
    +1 for "I would avoid advice such as having a one-to-one conversation with the guy on your working relationship; I expect that can only make things worse. Have all communications in a documented format (e.g., email) or in a venue with other observers (CYA)." Approaching the other tech lead only works if you assume the tech lead is not making a power play, as it appears they are, given OP's question. Don't negotiate with someone who is not acting in good faith.
    – bob
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 15:57

Regarding the gender aspect, the behaviors you describe sound to me like textbook microaggressions. As as this McKinsey article explains:

Everyday sexism and racism, also known as microaggressions, can take many forms. Some can be subtle, like when someone mistakenly assumes a coworker is more junior than they really are. Some are more explicit, like when someone says something demeaning to a coworker. Whether intentional or unintentional, microaggressions signal disrespect. They also reflect inequality—while anyone can be on the receiving end of disrespectful behavior, microaggressions are directed at people with less power, such as women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.

Notably, one needn't be a misogynist or even consciously sexist to take part in microaggressions. You mentioned that you get along relatively well otherwise. I think there's a good chance he doesn't realize he's treating you differently, because he has yet to see in himself these incorrect notions based on your gender, let alone how they can cause him to act unfairly to you. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't help for you to point this out to him, since those same notions would likely prevent him from really listening.

I think the other answers have offered good advice on how to carefully handle the issue of disrespect without the gender aspect. But if you're interested in trying to improve the sexism issue (which I don't mean to imply is your responsibility by any means), I suggest discussing it with trusted male coworkers and, if they also believe there's a larger issue, encouraging them to be more active "workplace allies" as described in this ELI article. This could make them more likely to help in situations like this, such as "by endeavoring to point out the unfairness in microaggressive remarks", and while it likely won't fix anything immediately, it could help promote fairness in the long term.

(Disclaimer: I am a male software engineer and not an expert on this topic.)


Before reporting officially that you have a problem with your manager, and also it depends how is your relationship with your manager, you could simply ask for advice from him. And I'm talking about an honest advice, not something that could be viewed as a snarky way to involve your manager. So if you want to give it a go, make it clear to your manager that you are only soliciting for advice at this point.

Depending of your manager, the answer might be something like:

  1. "Just shrug if off"
  2. "Continue like this. Keep me in check if it becomes worse.
  3. "Don't let yourself get trampled when he tries to"

This will also give you an idea on how your manager sees this kind of issue and how he will support you (or not) in case you get really fed up with that and want to escalate it.

  • 3
    Great Advice asking for guidance. If you are going in only for advice, probably best to let the colleague in question unnamed in those conversations.
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 8:02
  • 7
    -1 For managing to again accuse the OP of possibly being "snarky". Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 13:25
  • When did I do that ? I just tell OP to make it clear that he wants advice in order to not being accused to be snarky/
    – Walfrat
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 7:46
  • The fact that you have the clause "not a snarky way" suggests you think the OP is prone to being snarky and you need to warn them against that (which sounds condescending). This answer could be improved by removing that clause, and some other grammar fixes. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 5:01

Yes, of course this is sexism.

I'm trans, so I've seen first hand how some men's attitude changes when you're perceived as a woman (especially in positions requiring technical expertise) vs when you're perceived as a man. This person's behaviour really closely follows a classic pattern of misogyny. He's a complete arsehole, and the "Was your reply intended to be snarky?" question was totally out-of-line.

Whether there's anything you can practically do about it depends on the culture of your workplace. If it's the kind of place where you could just say that he's being disrespectful, and ask for your colleagues to please back you up next time that happens, then it's probably a good idea to do so. (You said that other members of the team had come to you in private to offer support when they noticed the disrespect, which is a positive sign that this may be a productive approach.) On the other hand, if this would cause you more problems, then don't. In the latter case, please accept my sympathy.


No. You are overreacting. They clearly wondered if you intended your comment as a barb, you assured them it was not, everything is now fine.

It’s better for them to feel comfortable coming to you to ask them just to assume you were being unpleasant, don’t you think? If you make an issue out of this they will a) assume you WERE being snarky after all and b) are conflict prone and going to run to your manager over ridiculous things. His asking in a group chat is a minor faux pas but not “unprofessional,” that’s a huge stretch (maybe that was his intent, but it’s so clearly debatable that this is the wrong hill to die on.)

You should potentially be addressing his other behavior with your manager, but not this. Especially not this because if your first complaint is ridiculous it’s very unlikely you’ll be taken seriously when you try to bring up those other more serious communication issues.

  • 8
    I appreciate the frank advice. He should be able to come to me, but it's common courtesy to discuss something like that personally rather than in a group setting. The act of making his concern public rather than private was a statement on its own.
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 1:55
  • 17
    -1, whilst your conclusion may have merit, you seem to have missed that the other team lead didn't simply "come to OP to ask" - they asked in the presence of the entirety of both teams. That was unnecessarily confrontational and aggressive and hence unprofessional. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 8:55
  • 3
    and going to run to your manager over ridiculous things… and … if your first complaint is ridiculous … In other words you find the OP's concern to be ridiculous. Did I misunderstanding that "Half an hour later, the other tech lead dropped this in the group channel" was a public communication? Was it a personal and private message? Instead, maybe this was the straw that broke the camel's back.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 15:24
  • I get that she feels like it's the final straw. That's irrelevant, what's relevant is if it's a legit thing to go first complain about. It's not. If someone came to me and said "X asked if I was being snarky in a group chat!?!" I'd say "Were you?" When they say "No! and I said no." I'd say "OK then." If they then said "but I think it was unprofessional of him to say that and I want to complain!", at most I'd say "OK, give him benefit of the doubt" and then in 1-1 tell him it's better to ask questions like that in DM instead. Not solving the problem.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 16:49
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    @d-b The dev had stated that my team failed to provide him with something he needed in that chat. I informed him we had not.
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 18:03

I think there are two components to the Question here.

A. Public communication:

  1. In written communication, especially where there are multiple recipients, people tend to react rather poorly when their own mistakes are exposed. In that context, "I have already sent it to you last week" can be understood literally or it can be interpreted as, "you are too dumb to read your mail!" (exaggerated) Try to avoid pointing at other people's mistakes in such communication. If this is a one-off, for instance, just send them the code again without any remarks.

  2. The other team lead asked you if it was intended to be snarky. So clearly someone took it the wrong way. He may be speaking on behalf of his team member(s) here. If that was not your intent, just clear that up. No need to re-state the mistakes of others. A simple "No, sorry if it came across that way." will suffice and don't add fuel to what already seems to be a sore spot. While their use of a public channel may not be the best platform for this, it gives you a public platform to clear up the misunderstanding. So stay professional.

B. The other team leads lack of respect.

This seems to be a constant nuisance. I would try to get a private conversation with said team lead and try to clear that up. Use "I" statements and don't make direct accusations. The focus here should be on improving communication because you don't feel entirely comfortable with the way it currently is. You can also encourage him to use a private channel whenever problems occur on his side.

PS: If this rather soft approach does not seem to work, try the firmer version from @Lilienthal's great answer.

  • 2
    I agree with A1, but the issue here is that the member of the other team already violated this rule when they publicly said they were missing code that OP's team should have provided. Thus they already caused OP to lose face, and it is reasonable for OP to act to restore face by publicly pointing out diplomatically that the code had already been sent. Failing to do so would have made OP and OP's team unfairly look bad.
    – bob
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 15:47
  • 1
    Regarding A2, if the other team lead can't deal with hurt feelings internal to their own team without escalating it back to OP, especially for something as minor as the described interaction (as written), it doesn't reflect well on the management skills of said team lead. Assuming a team member's feelings were hurt (and not the other team lead's), it's common for staff to get annoyed at managers, and shouldn't have turned into defcon five. The other team lead was in the wrong here assuming OP described the situation accurately, which I am.
    – bob
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 15:50
  • Also the approach in A2 puts OP in the position of being deferential to the other team, which is not a good move given the power dynamics with the other tech lead described by OP. Regarding B, this could work if the other team lead isn't doing this deliberately. But if they are then it is likely to be seen as weakness and make things worse not better. Especially if the other team lead is has sociopathic tendencies, in which case they may actively prey on signs of weakness to get ahead. Not saying that's true, just that there's a lot to lose with this approach. You can be nice and firm.
    – bob
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 15:54
  • @bob I read OP´s post a little differently. Hopefully she will be able to judge what kind of situation this is. If there is in fact a team effort by the contractor to waken her position this here might not be the correct approach. When in doubt, I´d go with with Hanlon´s Razor
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 17:58
  • 1
    I agree with Hanlon's Razor. Just gotta know when you've got enough evidence of malice to move past it. So you're right, OP has to make this judgement call.
    – bob
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 17:59

When you said in the team chat that you'd already sent the code over you may have belittled the person you sent it to in front of your team. There could be many reasons they missed your original message so you could have just sent the code and thanked them.

Do you want your team to feel uncomfortable coming to you in future?

There's clearly a clash between you and this other person, obviously nobody knows everything which has gone on prior. I would suggest you take some time to reflect on what has led up to this before considering escalating it or accusing your colleague of being a misogynist.

  • 3
    Thank you for responding. I agree that the dev may have been offended when I pointed out the code had already been sent, but they had stated that they were missing something from us that we should have provided. I felt it needed to set the record straight in a purely factual way.
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 17:54
  • @mjjf No probs - Missing something other than the code block? Maybe you should have put that information in your question, having said that if I was in your team and saw you comment in a public chat like that then I think I'd be very careful what I said to you in future. Anyway, I wasn't there and you were but just think it over before you make this about gender or escalate it and end up with egg on your face.
    – Old Nick
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 20:19
  • @DarkCygnus I rolled your edit back - The question from OP says clearly she did not think that she would have been treated this way if she were male. Please do not change my answer, if you don't like it delete it entirely.
    – Old Nick
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 7:29

For the past year we have been contracting with an implementation partner. I share the tech lead work with another lead on their side. We generally get along pretty well, but there have been times where he treats me differently than the rest of the team.

Other members of the team have come to me in private to offer support when they notice the disrespect.

I found this interaction very offensive and unprofessional. Asking that in a group chat with all of my direct reports felt demeaning. I didn't say anything at the time. Thinking about it I am certain he would not have said it if I were male.

For the record, I am a male in a high tech environment *.

It may just have been a typical attempt to pee on the corners of a territory. He may be an asshole (or whatever this is called today - "socially inept" I think) and decided to show who is the "true boss".

In which case I would have professionally told him to fuck off and stop being an ass because otherwise we will discuss this with management and that could be the last discussion for him (they are your customers after all).

After which I would have gone forward with the meeting without leaving time for further confrontation, no matter how uncomfortable he may now feel.

He may also simply think that you being a woman means that you are dumber. The professional reaction above would therefore be even more important.

Or that you are blonde/French/graduated from the wrong school/coding in Python or whatever pretext he can find.

* Profoundly annoyed by idiots who are telling things on meetings they would have not said in a bar without the risk of a more primal interaction.

  • I appreciate your supportive answer, thank you! I couldn't help but find it odd that out of all of the flaring tempers we have experienced together on this project that my comment was the only one he ever deemed "snarky". I just can't image his words ever directed at another member of my team.
    – mjjf
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 18:00

... we have been contracting with an implementation partner. I share the tech lead work with another lead on their side...

I've been in this position a few times over the last few years. As they are a contractor who your company is paying for services from, keep in mind that the partnership at your level is not really one of equals. Management usually says things like this to foster a positive outcome and the least amount of friction possible, but also recognizes that the contractors are hired help, temporary and replaceable by their parent company, and that the balance of power in the "partnership" is in your (you and your company's) favor. The attempts to discredit you are because the other recognizes that balance and is trying to "even the scale". He may be a teammate, but he is not an employee.

As an employee, you are an investment in the future of the team/company and its likely that you have this position because your boss(es) trust you to keep the progress moving in a positive direction, including letting them know when there is any friction.

The "snark" question is the least of the problems (to which you could have asked "would you choose to be offended if I was trying to be 'snarky'?" and try to force a yes/no out of him, or better yet ignore that he even said anything) and its curious that you chose to be offended by that and not the other things mentioned. If you are having any of those other problems, you should have the lead on that side replaced since they are clearly detrimental to the team's morale.

Thinking about it I am certain he would not have said it if I were male.

You dont know that and there is no way to prove that without some systemic evidence, pattern, or recorded sexist/misogynistic statement. If you try push on that without better evidence, it could backfire and diminish the professional reputation that you probably have worked very hard to get.

  • you make some good points, thank you. All of the behavior has been irritating, but nothing else he has said felt so unlikely to be directed to my peers if roles were reversed. I don't think I'm adequately equipped to explain how it feels as a woman to be called "snarky" or the like. The best way I can describe it is like I'm being told to "know my place". Like I'm not allowed to be frank and factual, I have to be demure so as not to offend. It's demeaning.
    – mjjf
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 4:05
  • 1
    @mjjf - for my entire life i have had to deal with those who choose to be offended at my candor, directness, tone of voice, etc. I dont know any other way to be but as straight forward and honest as possible, and I wouldnt want to be otherwise because I see that as being manipulative or dishonest. I can tell you that this has actually been detrimental to my career at times.(and can get under my wife's skin like nothing else can), but i cant control who chooses to be offended and for what, so I forgive them and move on. Remember that your place is where ever you want it to be. Take it, Own it
    – StingyJack
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 2:38

Just making sure it is said: This could also have been legitimate confusion about how seriously you were taking the issue, just badly phrased. I have to filter my sense of humor in line since some of it can be misread without the tone of voice indicating that I'm not serious. Similar misreadings can happen accidentally. I'd suggest that you take this as a serious question rather than attack, and answer it as such, even if you don't think that was the intent.


It is not unprofessional to ask if someone is being snarky.

However, it is unprofessional to complain to management about someone asking questions.

Do NOT escalate to management, as you will get labeled the office rat, or worse.

IT is high stress, tempers flare all the time, and we are not known for our manners. In my office, the women drop the F-bomb more than the men. Take it in stride, and if someone gives you a hard time, give it back to them, but do so in a professional manner.

From what it sounds like, you kind of did give it back to your coworker and he didn't like it. Too bad, so sad. Keep it peer to peer unless it becomes a pattern and you have it documented.

That said, honestly, I hear worse every day in my shop. Let it go, ignore it, or give it back to them.

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    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 1:29

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