I work for a large company. I was in a call and a team mate, who's a contractor from a well known consultancy (I am a FTE at the company) spoke to his peer (also from same consultancy) in a very aggressive and intimidating tone, with no chance for him to reply. His boss was on the call, but did not address this behaviour.

In a later call, he used the same tone to me, but I did address it.

I mentioned to his boss verbally and to mine over email. I am not lodging a formal complaint that needs to go to HR, but rather, for my boss to also address it, as he is in a position of authority and can discuss with his boss, etc, as well as in an account review with the consultancy.

Was this the right way of addressing it? As I am told I should not have emailed, etc.

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    What makes you think the boss didn't address the behaviour? All you know is on the call the boss didn't say anything. But they very easily could have had a word after the call in private. Feb 15 at 2:47
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    "Was this the right way of addressing it?" - What did your boss say to you after reading your email ? That is the only thing that matters. (BTW, did you hear anything back from the boss of the contractor ?) Feb 15 at 4:52
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    "As I am told I should not have emailed, etc." Who exactly told you this, and what exactly did they say? "etc" covers a multitude of sins. Feb 15 at 7:58
  • @GregoryCurrie Maybe they did not, otherwise this should not have repeated. And, if it was repeated even after having the word, then it's a more serious problem than it appears. Feb 15 at 9:44
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    You have given us no details. What you perceived as rude may not have been intended as such. Conversational styles legitimately differ and a mismatch in expectations can be perceived as rude when it was not intended as such. First step should always be to talk with the individual and determine whether this is something the two of you can come to an understanding on.
    – keshlam
    Feb 15 at 14:39

4 Answers 4


You have already emailed, so it is a bit late. Whether you email or tell them verbally sort of depends on how you get along with them.

You have raised it with his boss and yours. Now let it rest. If they want to do anything, they will. If you persist, it may count against you.

  • 2
    "If you persist, it may count against you." I'm sorry, expecting to work in an inclusive and empathetic environment may count against me? Please help me understand. How many times it too many when one shall take active measures to protect their rights to work in a fair workplace? Yes, an hourly follow-up is not recommended, but it needs to be made sure that everyone understands that a workplace is not a place to disrespect anyone, regardless of their rank, position, employment status or any other factor. Feb 15 at 9:38
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    One time may be too many, if you misread the situation and disrespect was not intended. Two may be too many if the situation only happened once. Adults are mostly expected to try to work this out among themselves rather than immediately demanding management take action.
    – keshlam
    Feb 15 at 15:47
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    @keshlam, "Adults are mostly expected to try to work this out among themselves rather than immediately demanding management take action". Good advice. Generally, managers prefer seeing more solutions than more issues. --- If this issue persists after a few attempts to resolve professionally, the OP can still go to his manager. Feb 15 at 23:44
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    but the problem here is, OP has already escalated that. However, in general, I agree to the comments, and tried elaborating on the same in my version of the answer. Feb 16 at 2:20

"Was this the right way of addressing it?"

In short, no.

To elaborate, unless you have noticed this multiple times, in different occasions, approaching one's manager about one heated conversation is going a little overboard.

However, let me be very clear, there should be absolutely zero tolerance about workplace bullying - everyone has rights to be treated equally, regardless of their rank, position, employment status or any other factor. In case, you face issues like this in future, I'd suggest to follow the below steps to find a resolution:

  1. First time you encounter an issue like this, talk to the person, after the call, in private. Let them know that you did not appreciate they way they spoke, and offer help if they need it. You can say something like:

"Hey Haridas Pal, I wanted you to know that the way you conversed in the previous meeting is not welcoming. I do not think this is normal for you, is everything all right?"

Most of the time, being a little empathetic while passing on your feedback on their behaviour can go along way in correcting them. They might simply be having a bad day, and kind words can help them realizing their mistake and correcting themselves.

  1. In case (1) did not work, or they ignore your message and continue the same behaviour further, talk to their manager and yours. Write emails, as it create document trails.

  2. Follow up with your manager to ensure that this has been communicated to them successfully. Even after that, if it continues, reach out to HR with the previous document trails.

  • "about one heated conversation" - from the question description, it was two heated conversations, not one.
    – Gertsen
    Feb 16 at 7:48

Existing answers are fine if both of you were employees, but since the other person is a consultant and not an employee of your company, things are a bit different.

First of all, you didn't handle this wrong per se, but you didn't give this person the benefit of the doubt (not sure if this was intentional or not). You could have asked your manager or any colleagues on the call (if any) for their opinion, to clear the possibility that you misread the situation. Instead, you outright filed both a formal complaint (email to your manager) and an informal one over non-standard channels (you telling this person's boss).

HR is never going to get involved in this, because this contractor isn't managed by HR. They can't get fired from your company because they don't work there, they can't get reprimanded by your HR department, and they don't need to follow any of your HR department's rules or your company's formal rules or informal rules (culture). They are an employee of a different company. That's important to remember.

For that reason, the correct escalation path is to talk to your manager, and let your manager resolve or escalate accordingly.

It's important that you understand that what you did was escalate this. We're in no position to tell you whether that was the correct move or not, since you didn't describe the incident in detail. However, now that you did escalate it, the best thing you can do is let your manager handle it (which is literally what you asked them to do, when you sent that email).

If this happens again, be sure to document it appropriately (recording of the call if they're available, detailed account from you, etc), and discuss it with your manager. Do not attempt to resolve this on your own without discussing with your manager. That would have been ideal at the beginning (depending on how bad it was, and we don't know that), but that ship has sailed now.

Basically, act like you would if this was another employee of your company and you had reported this to HR.

Just so you know, I've seen multiple times contracts with either service providers or even clients get terminated because one person mistreated company employees and their boss didn't do anything to change that. It's usually because of repeated incidents, and it takes a while to process since it does impact your company's operations and potentially revenue, but it can happen.

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    Not saying that OP choose the correct path of action, but disagree on the HR paragraph. There are tons of scenarios in which HR might be fully involved. Say that an employee is harassed by an external contractor; the harassed FTE goes to their manager, who is responsible for hiring the contractor, but they take no action. The employee is more than justified to escalate to HR and this might lead to multiple consequences (from firing the manager, to banning the external company from procurement and so on).
    – nicola
    Feb 18 at 8:15
  • You're right @nicola, I meant to say HR would never reprimand the contractor. The scenarios you're describing mean reporting your manager to HR for not protecting you, which is pretty nuclear (as you've accurately described), and is valid. Feb 21 at 20:05

Are you in a position to criticize the consultancy company as to how they do run their internal culture and business? Are you directly consulted on whether their contract with your company gets extended or cut? If no, its none of your business unless it directly impacts the work you doing with them. Doubly and Triply so if they are not an English Culture company where it is a culturally norm to be an activist and speak for others without insight and to also butt into their private business without consideration of anyone but your own thoughts of the matter.

The proper way of doings until activism came around was to consult or report to those within your own company, aka your manager and/or with those in your company that the consultancy company reports to. If you do not you could be jeopardizing deals and relationships that you are not privy to and therefore risking your own job as well as your companies well being.

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