Some background: I am a software programmer and is responsible for a whole system that is being used by mostly the girl from another department. Since she mostly use a system that I alone handle, we mostly work together on data fixes and maintenance for this system. We were both single and on the same age-range and we are mostly seen by her colleagues together, and that's were the problem starts. Her colleagues tease us (making high pitched noises and say things like we're going out together) whenever I go to her station. At first I just ignored it, but now it affects our professional relationship to the point that we now try to avoid meetings that include just the two of us.

Our work environment have a close relationship (almost family-like) atmosphere, and as much as possible, I want to avoid being a kill-joy to them by being too professional minded. Is there a way to salvage my professional relationship with this girl without being a 'librarian' to her colleagues?

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    Since they think it's funny, and you obviously don't (and we don't know, but your colleague might think it's very unfunny as well), ignoring doesn't help, and there is no reason why you and your professional relationship should suffer because of this, have you tried telling them it's not funny? Like saying with your most sarcastic voice "oh you are so funny", "this stopped being funny weeks ago", "you're so immature" and so on?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 12:22
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    I don't want to sound rude, but that behaviour is characteristic of middle-school kids, not professional grown-ups. Have you talked to your direct boss or to HR about this ? If yes, what did they say ? Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 17:11
  • Your coworkers are still in kindergarten ? Whats next ? Hire kids straight out of the womb ? Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 5:43

3 Answers 3


Really simple answer : tell her exactly what you told us.

I've been in this situation : has a woman in a man world, I get tease a lot and most people don't understand that some time, they are actually hurting us.

I had a coworker that teased me more than he should have. We were really good friends and just like you, I didn't want to be a kill-joy so I kept my mouth shut for a while, but then it became too much.

I just asked him to have a talk in private, and explain to him how too much teasing was affecting me. He understood and the excessive teasing stopped immediately.

I don't think this woman wants to hurt you, so if you tell her how she is affecting your professional life, I'm pretty sure she will understand and be sorry of what she did. If you don't have the courage to talk to her directly, write her a email. I every case, be prepared : explain calmly and prepare your arguments. Try not being agressive or accuse her : try the good old trick of using the "I" instead of "you" (i.e. "I fell bad when you .." instead of "You make me feel bad..."). This is way easier for the person to not feel attacked when you talk this way.

If she don't stop and don't care, then the next step is talking to your manager/boss about the situation. If a situation is affecting your work and that you tried to solved it and it didn't work, then your manager needs to know and needs to help you fix it.


I made a false assumption that the person teasing you was one woman, when your post states "colleagues", meaning the people teasing you can be one or many man/woman. My advice to you stay the same. I case the teasing came from multiple people, try to find the one that speaks the louder or the one that tease you more often and have the habit of starting the teasing. Chances are, when this person stops, the others will too.


The whole point of a successful tease is to get the other party to overreact so that the overreaction entertains them with uproararious laughter. It looks like they've succeeded brilliantly in playing your minds - yours and hers - like a violin. Fact is, they don't even care whether it's true that she and you have a relationship. But they do love the fact that their saying it drives both of you bonkers. If you go bonkers, then you are providing them with the entertainment they are looking for. You could say that this entertainment is a lot like me pulling the wings and the legs off the flies when I was seven, but we are not discussing which entertainment is moral and which entertainment is not.

I take it at your word that your firm has a family-like culture. If so, they're probably not bad people and if you take a couple of them out to lunch and you explain to them how their teasing is causing her pain and suffering, they might just stop because they're not a bunch of sadists, they're reasonable people and they intuitively understand that the teasing stops when the pain begins and they're not the type of people who get their enjoyment from inflicting pain.

You probably don't want to escalate to your management and to HR just yet, as you want to give them an opportunity to connect to their better selves and make sure that this sort of thing dies down. You are not looking to punish or to retaliate, but you are looking to make it stop.


I would let this woman know that the teasing bothers you and you plan on doing something about it. Hopefully, she won't get in the way or be too upset.

Ask the other people to please stop. You may have to say it a second time. Emphasis that you asked politely. For the third time, they need to know you're going over their head. That could include your boss, HR, their boss, it really depends on how the company is structured.

Some people play around and don't know when they're really bother someone, so you have to tell them.

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