Quick background: I'm relatively new at my workplace (a few months in). I was recently chatting with a coworker when I found out that I may be asked to present something to the team later this month. My initial reaction was one of slight anxiety and I expressed that to my coworker, who basically laughed at me. Once I had conquered the initial anxiety, he joked that he would remind me of the inevitable presentation so that I "don't forget it".

I've since gotten over my anxiety but he's sticking to his word and every day has sent me a message or an email saying "don't forget!" I understand that to him this is all a joke but A) it's a little off-putting that this is his reaction to something that clearly stressed me out and B) how do I politely let him know this game of his isn't funny and I'm over it?

I'm not asking to be coddled at all, I can handle my own anxiety and stress factors well enough. They don't affect my performance or my work and I was simply expressing initial gut reaction to him. I find his behavior childish. Neither of us are in a superior position over the other but he has been here longer than me and I don't want to come across as the "b-tchy newbie". He's also not being malicious about it, he clearly means it as a harmless joke, but at this point it's severely annoying. I'm currently the only one he is doing this to (that I know of) so it's not like a group of us can lodge a complaint. Is there a recommended protocol for dealing with annoying one-on-one coworker behavior?

  • My first thought is a filter for emails saying "Don't forget!" but that won't help with direct messages.
    – d0nut
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 21:48
  • 4
    Reply "Please limit email and messages to constructive business communication"
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 21:51
  • 23
    Communicate openly. "Thank you. I won't forget. This joke is getting stale. Could we move on to a new one?" Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 21:53
  • how recent? how many messages in total? Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


Hints make for poor professional relationships. If you want something you are best off asking directly.

In comments Stephan Kolassa gave an excellent example. I would say "Got it in my calendar and am fully prepared. These reminders are getting to be a distraction from my work so let's let it be. Have a good day."


There's two possible situations here, as far as I can see it.

1) He's joking around with you, in which case he's trying to establish a friendly working relationship with you. In that case, I would find a curt response like Myles suggested to be incredibly stand-off-ish. If you're brave enough, you could open up to your co-worker. Next time he brings it up, say something to the effect of, "You know, I actually am starting to get really anxious about this. What am I going to do?" You're now (implicitly) asking for his help, which means he'll either drop it and start a conversation with you or...

2) ...He'll continue to do it, which means he's actually bullying you. In that case, it's a serious issue. He may not realize he's bullying, in which case asking him to stop or letting him know he's adding extra stress is probably the best course of action, as it allows him to rectify the behaviour before escalating it. That can be hard to do if you don't like confrontation (if that's the case, you should know that confrontation is almost always worse the way you imagine it than the way it actually winds up playing out). If he still continues, then you have to think about bringing it to your manager or HR, since it is bullying and even if you're willing to put up with it (and you shouldn't be), bringing it to the attention of management or human resources prevents him from doing it to the next co-worker.


It seems harmless, you can psychoanalyse his motivations all you want, or you can just ignore the two words and delete the email and forget it. I fail to see the big deal... no offense.

Personally I would just ignore it, it's not a big enough issue to impact on me. You can get defensive about everything or you can just take them in the spirit they're intended. It's up to you which road you take, one leads to conflict over trivialities, the other is less likely to.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .