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This guy and I have been working together in a project for last six months. We became friends and everything was going well. All of a sudden this guy started to pass unfair criticism/comments on me in front of the whole team. And he keeps doing this every day, at least once in a day. The team has got few out-of-college new guys. This unfair criticism could give them a wrong impression about me, not to mention my supervisor.

I am not someone who would shy away from criticisms. I asked this guy so many times to give me real examples and cases where I behaved in SUCH manner. He could never get one example but he continues passing SUCH comments with a funny tone. Few other colleagues also started to pass the same comments (funnily). I couldn’t tolerate this. I am unable to escalate this to my manager. (1) don’t want to look like a kid making silly complaints. My manager would think that I am intolerable to critics. (2)He is my friend (or I consider him as my friend) and I really don’t want to escalate to my manager.

But he is indeed sending out a bad message about me to the team. I tired “no reacting to his comments”. He simply does not care whether or not I am reacting. He just continues it every day.

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    This is pretty vague; could you give a specific example of something he said? – andi Jun 4 '15 at 18:36
  • Also, have you tried asking him to stop? – andi Jun 4 '15 at 18:37
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    @ramya Why delete what he is saying about you? It is vital to this question because we have no idea what 'funnily passed SUCH comments' means. Is he saying you smell bad or is he saying you can't work? Context is important. – jmorc Jun 4 '15 at 18:41
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    Question: Is your manager aware of this behaviour? Does he condone it? Regardless, this is workplace bullying. It is completely unacceptable and needs to be dealt with as the valid HR issue that it is. – Jane S Jun 4 '15 at 21:34
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    Also am curious what SUCH comments are. Also, seeing as you are his friend have you tried having a one-on-one with him, "Man, what's with those SUCH comments you are making in the team meetings lately?" – Brandin Jun 5 '15 at 5:54
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This seems like highly manipulative behaviour on his part. Comments like that are highly poisonous to a working team, and could even be considered workplace harassment if it gets bad enough. Since it has bothered you enough to post about it here, it is clearly a problem. (Note that I'm not saying that it's his problem, or your problem, just that there is a problem.)

As mentioned in comments, the best approach is to assume that he's a decent human being who just doesn't realize how much it bothers you. Have the difficult talk, be open and honest with him, and you may get a positive reaction.

If you don't feel comfortable confronting him directly - or you did and it didn't work - and you don't feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I recommend talking to HR. Helping to resolve conflicts like this as discreetly as possible is part of HR's job and there should be someone in HR who's trained to handle these situations.

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  • Handling conflicts discreetly is not HR's job. Their job is to protect the the company from lawsuits. – stannius Jun 4 '15 at 19:51
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    @stannius Maybe at yours...at mine they certainly encourage us to go to them with personal conflicts that our managers are unwilling / unable to resolve. – Mike Ounsworth Jun 4 '15 at 19:52
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    @stannius This is exactly what HR are there for. I would actually call this a case of workplace bullying, and it needs to be dealt with appropriately as it is affecting the OP's ability to do his or her job. – Jane S Jun 4 '15 at 21:32
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You say you consider him as your friend, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt now and assume that you haven't been forceful enough in asking him to stop. Most people, when confronting a difficult situation, tend to beat around the bush and drop hints instead of being direct, hoping that their message will get across without a difficult and uncomfortable confrontation. I'm going to assume that you are one of those people.

So, here's what you need to say: "I'd like to talk to you about all the times you say I smell bad. It really bothers me, even if you're just joking. Could you please stop doing that?"

Maybe he'll say "sure, I didn't realize it bothered you so much." Or maybe not. If he doesn't agree to stop doing it, you have to let him know that it bothers you so much that it causes you stress due to a hostile work environment. And if you still can't convince him, or if he agrees to stop but then does it again, you have to tell him that next time it happens you will need to bring it up with your manager. And then do it.

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  • He thinks it's funny. He wont stop it unless he feels that it can go against him if escalated to HR. I dont know what to do. – ramya Jun 4 '15 at 19:04
  • What exactly did you say to him when you asked him to stop? And what exactly did he say back? – andi Jun 4 '15 at 19:04
  • Give me real examples (with a harsh tone) or just stop it. He could never give me an example. He thinks it's funny. What to do. I decided to bury my head in the sand and hope that he would stop this before the message is written on my forehead. – ramya Jun 4 '15 at 19:09
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    Yeah, that's not good enough. You don't want real examples, you want him to stop it. You're muddying your message by asking for examples. Just ask him to stop it, and then WAIT FOR HIS ANSWER. it seems like you might have missed that part before too. – andi Jun 4 '15 at 19:13
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    "You are creating a hostile work environment" should be very, very, very clear to anyone with half a brain. – gnasher729 Jun 4 '15 at 19:17

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