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Context:
I work as a developer and support specialist in a medium-sized business with a lot of offices around the country. We often get calls from different offices that require technical assistance for X reasons. These calls can sometimes get pretty long and complex as the issues occurring can get pretty complex. There are 2 other colleagues in my team from which one is doing more dev stuff and rarely accepts calls (let’s call him Bob) and the other one that is strictly on support duty. I am the youngest of the 3. To note, I've been working at this job for the past 5 years, just like Bob.

The problem:
For a while now, Bob would quite literally start questioning me when I would do physical repairs on computers or laptops. Quite often he would just start straight up laughing at me like I was doing something soo wrong it was funny. Also, this would happen during calls. He would stop whatever he was doing and listen in on my call and start laughing or throwing up some random ideas he thought were better. I feel like I am being second guessed all the time by Bob and frankly it is stressing me out. He is not my superior nor does he rank above me in terms of company hierarchy so I do not answer to him, yet I still feel like I am being judged whenever I am doing something. I let him know about how I feel, but the behavior has not changed.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I am quite knowledgeable on the stuff I do and I've got the work experience to back it up. Of course for those wondering, I do not have a problem taking criticism and I am quite open about trying new things and improving myself.


What do I do ?

5
  • 5
    You said you did let him know how you feel. Does that mean you have openly confronted him already? What did he say?
    – 2HDS1X8B
    Jan 31 at 12:07
  • 7
    I did confront him directly about this. His response was that I always complicate things and he could do it faster or better even tho he never does it. I would start opening up a laptop and have trouble disassembling it and he would brag and boast until I gave him the laptop and wasted my time waiting for him to open it up.
    – CodeJunkie
    Jan 31 at 12:21
  • 5
    He sounds immature. I'd ask him to mind his own business.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jan 31 at 19:51
  • Which country are you in? Are you a native or a foreigner in that country?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 1 at 17:42
  • I would not like to disclose my country but I am a native
    – CodeJunkie
    Feb 1 at 21:32

2 Answers 2

61

From what you described, to me it looks like you're facing workplace harassment or bullying. It might be a mild version, but nevertheless this is an act of unfriendliness, unkindness and active targeting. Unless acted upon, this behaviour has potential to get escalated, sooner or later.

  • You took the (right) first step, a friendly chat (I assume?) to let them know you do not appreciate their comments and behaviour - and nothing changed.

  • Next step is to, document the occurrences, and approach your manager / supervisor with this issue, have a discussion and let them know you'd like this to stop and have a professional work environment. Most likely, a visit to the cabin of supervisor for Bob will solve the problem and bring back the professional behaviour and work environment.

  • Unfortunately, even after that if situation does not change or improve, involve HR and your manager, both. They will have ways to set things straight.

There is no place for harassment or bullying in a workplace.

11

This

  • " ... Also, this would happen during calls. He would stop whatever he is doing and listen in on my call and start laughing or throwing up some random ideas he thinks are better."

Has to stop immediately.
This is impacting your ability to provide a professional service and will not be acceptable to management in any competent organisation.

This gives you a "lever" to address a portion of his behaviour which is very likely to then lead to an change in his general behaviour. What the change will be is hard to predict - see below.

If I was in that situation I would suggest, as politely but clearly as I could (how much I manage the politeness may vary :-) ) that while his daily banter is annoying but I can just ignore it, it MUST NOT occur during support calls. Note that this is completely unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour and that it must stop immediately, and that if it doesn't you'll be obliged to refer his actions to management.

This is targeting action which is outside direct personal annoyance and something which he should (but perhaps may not) see is something which management would find unacceptable, and he should.

His response is unpredictable, but whatever happens, will move you into a new relationship.

He may comply but

  • be grumpy
  • not otherwise change
  • be more annoying personally
  • improve overall

or

Not comply, which makes a well stated complaint to management both necessary and clearly justified.


Peripheral:

Some form of humorous but pointed "push back" to his general behaviour may help. And may not.

'You really must have super human skills!'

'You really must THINK THAT you have super human skills!'

'And ... Here he is again! Super fixit man to the rescue. Again. What strange ideas do you have for me today?' [Careful not to be too barbed.]

'You could actually try taking some of these calls yourself.'

'You could actually try taking some of these calls yourself - you may just possibly come to realise how hard it is when you actually do the work yourself.' ... 'But, maybe not.'

'Them that can do. Them that can't just make a nuisance of themselves'.

..

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  • This is a good answer. Providing ways to respond without necessarily needing to escalate it.
    – Nav
    Jan 31 at 22:40
  • 2
    I mean I would tell him to STFU, but I recognize that most people wouldn't want to go that far.
    – Tiger Guy
    Feb 1 at 0:02
  • I like how this would allow me to discredit him without escalation
    – CodeJunkie
    Feb 1 at 7:04
  • 1
    This passive/aggressive nonsense will get you nowhere. You need to escalate this to your manager. If you have the same manager as him, this will get resolved quickly. The main point being that he interrupts your work and disrupts customer calls. Do NOT explain "how you feel". Your feelings are irrelevant. The productivity matter as well as his unprofessionalism.
    – LarryBud
    Feb 2 at 2:37
  • @LarryBud Maybe you were intending to comment on another answer ? || The core of my main input was " ... I would suggest, as politely but clearly as I could ... banter ... MUST NOT occur during support calls. ... must stop immediately, and that if it doesn't you'll be obliged to refer his actions to management." --> That politely ENSURES that the behaviour during support calls EITHER stops immediately OR is escalated to management. That deals with the most crucial issue. THEN the OP can see what other behavioural changes (if any) occur and go from there. Yes? Feb 2 at 5:38

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