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At work, someone yelled at me and spoke in a very rude way. The background was another supervisor told me to use a certain computer for a specific task, but this one thought it took too long and I should've used another computer. I didn't say anything when she yelled at me but at the end of my shift, I went to speak to her. I told her I knew the situation was stressful and calmly asked if she could try not to speak to me like that.

She got defensive saying I was being rude to her and that she wasn't mad at me. (we now have to wear masks in the workplace, which I agree make it more difficult to interpret a person's face and she pointed that out). I said OK.

Is there any way I could've handled it better? Any specific phrasing? Is it better to have these talks one on one or have other people around so they can't say I was harassing them? My manager likes to be kept in the loop about these things but I would prefer not to involve him if the problem is resolved. Should I let him know what happened or wait until it happens again?

To add clarity: I am not a supervisor. The person who yelled at me is. In general, we almost have as many supervisors as non-supervisors, and I've been getting a lot of conflicting advice. This is not the first time someone has spoken rudely to me at work, I have been trying to ignore it, but the other day another coworker approached me and told me he's surprised by the way other people talk to me. However, he doesn't want to go on the record saying it. Though it's not always yelling, several people speak in unprofessional ways such as making statements in overly demanding ways (e.g. "you! do this! now!"), lots of accusations or assuming I will do something wrong (e.g. "I've got my eye on you"), and just in general sounding and acting angry. The last sentence is not intended to be a rant. The point is that someone can act threatening in ways other than just yelling. In today's case, she said something weird about how I shouldn't listen to what people tell me so that I can avoid conflicting instructions... I think what she meant was she's only giving me advice on what she thinks the best way to do the task is. At the end of the day, she was yelling (whether she realizes it or not).

  • Based from your phrasing we can infer that this person screaming is also a supervisor. Is that correct? Is this person also your supervisor or you only have one supervisor (the one who told you to use certain computer)? – DarkCygnus Sep 16 at 3:40
  • I would prefer not to involve him if the problem is resolved. Do you consider it resolved? You ask if you could have handled it better: are you asking if you could have gotten her to actually agree not to yell at you? – BSMP Sep 16 at 6:42
  • @DarkCygnus I've added more details...perhaps too much. I would like to point out another coworker took me aside to say he's noticed people speak very rudely to me. How should I respond to that? – Yuftre111 Sep 16 at 7:04
  • I would personally have had that comment immediately and not afterwards. Rules of good behavior apply to everyone the same way and all the time. I would immediately (but calmly) say that the tone which I am spoken to is not acceptable and that we can either continue talking in a decent tone or we can talk later when the other party has "cooled off". If the other person continues in an unacceptable tone I would just leave the conversation. If they continue to follow and yell at this point its harassment and there are people who can take over that problem. – Chapz Sep 16 at 11:06
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    @DarkCygnus I don't actually care how to respond (if at all) to someone telling me they notice a lot of people are yelling at me. I included that info to show it's not just me be overly sensitive. – Yuftre111 Sep 17 at 11:22
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Is there anyway I could've handled it better? Any specific phrasing?

I think you handled it well, given that you state you asked for it calmly and even tried to empathize with her despite her unprofessional action.

Is it better to have these talks one on one or have other people around so they can't say I was harassing them?

Unless the situation escalates or the person shows repeated occasions to be unreasonable or a short temper, it's always best to address the problems one on one. In other words, try to solve it professionally with the person(s) involved before escalating.

My manager likes to be kept in the loop about these things but I would prefer not to involve him if the problem is resolved. Should I let him know what happened [...]

Here you already answered yourself: prefer not to involve your manager because this can be solved without having to involve him.

[...] or wait until it happens again?

Ideally, this shouldn't happen again. If this happens again it would mean that this person screaming to you continues to be unprofessional and ignore your request. At that point, it seems that escalating will be the next logical step, and involve your manager.


Addendum: Looking beyond the obvious situation here (the unprofessional screaming), seems that the problem is rooted in one of communication: the person that yelled at you was unaware that your supervisor told you to do what you were doing.

Yes, screaming/yelling is not nice nor professional by itself, but seems that we have a hidden problem here that evidences a lack of communication between supervisors and the decisions they make.

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(Having, full-disclosure, for many years been such a manager ...) "That's what your manager is for."

Without further attempting to engage your co-worker in whatever conflict might apparently exist between the two of you, immediately and in private conversation present the entire matter to your manager.

And then, as your manager seeks to resolve the situation as he sees fit, say in the next few days, "be fully prepared to listen, as well as speak." (That is to say: "Be Professional.™")

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  • Just a minor nitpick on this otherwise good answer - the final paragraph could be read as if you were suggesting the quoted text should be uttered aloud at some point over the next few days, due to the use of the word "say". I know that's not what you meant by it. I suggest moving "say .. few days" into a parenthetical and adding a comma after "say". – Asteroids With Wings Sep 16 at 13:20
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If someone ever shouts at you, walk away, NO ONE has the right to shout at you under any circumstance.

We are all people, it does not matter if someone has a made up title within a work place, a bigger pay cheque, worked there longer, they are no better than anyone else.

Sometimes you have to bite the bullet at work and do things you don't want to, but always command respect. Being shouted at is disrespectful, and can be considered threatening.

If it happens more than once, escalate immediately to first your manager, HR if that does not resolve. If you get any kick back from manager or HR, take this a red flag and look else where for a job.

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Avoid meeting with her unless there are eyewitnesses or videocameras.

but at the end of my shift I went to speak to her. I told her I knew the situation was stressful and calmly asked if she could try not to speak to me like that.

This was clear mistake on your part, try to document your encounters with her. Otherwise this can be used against you.

She got really defensive saying I was being rude to her and that she wasn't mad at me.

She is trying to shift the blame on you, this has potential to escalate to much worse situation. I can not stress this enough, document your encounters from this point on, avoid unnecesary meetings, especially when there are no people or cameras around.

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    There seems to be an underlying motivation in this answer (I'm assuming fear of sexual harassment accusations?) that really should be spelled out more clearly, to back up why you feel this answer is correct. – Erik Sep 16 at 19:44
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    Could downvoters explain their position ? I welcome criticism. – ImmortanJoe is censored and mu Sep 17 at 7:24
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    I already explained mine; this answer is currently not backed up by anything and if you're not going to, it's not a good answer. – Erik Sep 17 at 8:15

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