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I have a colleague who is not only very intrusive, but also makes constant jibes at me.

He keeps snooping what I am doing on my computer (even though I am just working) every time. But that's not even the issue.

He makes attacking statements every time, especially in a large gathering. Although he makes comments about trivial things, it affects me. For instance: I am a few years older than him. He makes fun of the fact that I am stuck in the same level as him. There are many other instances (too many to list here).

I am posting this here out of frustration because I don't know what to do. I avoid saying something to him since he is extremely sensitive. He will sit and sulk for the next one week if i said something in retort.

I think his bitterness stems from the fact that I am not very chirpy and friendly to him. But I am introvert, and that's how I am. Also, I do not particularly get along well with him either.

What can I do to make him stop?

marked as duplicate by gnat, jcmeloni, Michael Grubey, CMW, IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 22 '14 at 15:47

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    If every jibe he takes at you results in a retort by you that gets him sulking for the next week, I imagine him taking jibes at you should stop really quickly, or he's just pretending to sulk. Although "but he took a jibe at me first" is probably not a great defence if you're reported for retorting. – Dukeling Apr 17 '14 at 14:50
  • Sulk for a week? He can dish it out but he can't take it. Makes fun of your age? No personal attack too petty for him. Craves your company? Talk about emotionally needy! You've got yourself quite a catch for a colleague :) Do your work, the only time you shouldn't ignore him is when you want something from him, like a coffee run :) Smile like an indulgent parent, if he stares at your screen and asks what you are doing. Then tell him that you'd love to answer the question but you have a deadline to meet - you always have a deadline to meet, by the way :) Then keep working as if he is not there – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 17 '14 at 17:35
  • It actually sounds like a week of sulking would be a good thing, since he annoys you so much in his normal pattern of behaviour. – Carson63000 Apr 17 '14 at 23:43
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Well, it's a little unprofessional, but this does work (I've used it):

You have the advantage of age. Use it.

Whenever he makes an attacking statement, turn to the person next to you and say, "They're so cute when they bristle their fur like that, aren't they?" Or some variation on that theme. It works especially well if there is a mix of ages in the room, as many young people are looking for respect from the older decision makers, and they'll all get the hint quickly.

You've just taken the wind out of everything he tried to do, and made him look the fool. It works because you've established that whatever he did is absolutely no threat to you, and you're in no way upset by it, but actually find it amusing. You say the kid is insecure and sulks if you one-up him. He's looking to engage you. You can't lose the confrontation if you refuse to get into one in the first place. You've basically just told him publicly, "You're not in my league."

As for looking at your PC screen, a witty retort there can work well. Again, use your age advantage. If you're in the US or a country that gets a lot of US movies: Men in Black is a great source of material. "You lose something over here, Hondo?" (In your best Tommy Lee Jones voice, if you can) is almost perfect for that situation. Watch the movies. Take notes.

I've rarely had to do this twice. I've never had to do it three times.

  • I wish I could +10 this answer just for "They're so cute when they bristle their fur like that, aren't they?" – Mike Apr 17 '14 at 14:46
  • "Ahh nostalgia - I remember when I was young and thought I knew everything too - hahahaha" – Preet Sangha Apr 17 '14 at 23:44
  • "You lose something over here, Hondo?" (In your best Tommy Lee Jones voice, if you can). - That cracked me up!! Haha! Thanks so much to you and Preet as well. – user18851 Apr 19 '14 at 7:06
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I think you have answered your own question!

I avoid saying something to him since he is extremely sensitive. He would sit and sulk for the next one week if i said something in retort.

RETORT AWAY!!!!

In all seriousness though, he sounds quite insecure (purely based on your description - I'm not a psycologist). I think you just need to ignore him and shrug him off when he makes attacking statements as he is probably looking to be seen as the alpha male within the group

When he is snooping, simply say "OK? Are you not busy at the moment? Looking for work?" in a fairly loud work so that colleagues/superiors hear

Don't be too despondent though. Most offices have a mixture of personalities. It is for management/HR to manage these clashes so you are well within your rights to express your concerns to your direct manager/HR department with a calm, measured manner.

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    Like the "looking for work comment". If it's not his job to monitor you, he should be doing something else. – Garrison Neely Apr 17 '14 at 16:12
  • +1 for pointing out the "Alpha Male" issue. I work in an industry that's primarily female, so I sometimes forget about the "frat boy" culture that's in some offices. – Wesley Long Apr 19 '14 at 14:55
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You need to stay professional, so don't make demeaning comments back. However, that doesn't mean you need to just take the jibing, either.

Next time he makes a remark you don't like, calmly and professionally point out that the comment isn't appreciated, and ask if he can please stop. Don't get all emotional, and try to do it without other people around. If he gets angry or agitated, just walk away. If he gets sulky and doesn't talk to you, that's a win! It will probably take quite a few times of you calmly asking him to stop for him to do so.

You're making comments about my age, and that's inappropriate and unprofessional. I would like you to stop. Can you do that?

If he escalates it, or simply won't stop, then you can go to your manager. Tell her that you've asked him to stop several times and explain what he has been doing. Then ask your manager how she thinks you should handle it.

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