I have been working for more than 3 years now with my co-worker and people have been teasing us here and there and it doesn't make me happy, at all. Things have gone awkward to the point where I can't even do certain things just because people might think we're a thing. Back when we weren't being teased we had good rapport but now I actively ignore my co-worker at times, which I feel bad for.

How do I control/prevent this behavior?

  • 2
    You don't have to care what others say. Just continue along. If something escalates to personal attack or abuse, you could always report to a manager.
    – cst1992
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 6:48
  • 4
    What are they teasing you about? This could impact my answer.
    – Terry
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 7:12
  • 1
    This book on assertiveness should be helpful to you. amazon.com/When-Say-No-Feel-Guilty/dp/0553263900 Just don't assume what the book is about from its title. Commented May 5, 2016 at 7:34
  • This is always a difficult question to answer because it depends heavily on culture and your own threshold for feeling embarrassed, etc. Where is this taking place? And, at the risk of making you uncomfortable, I'm assuming you're female, and your coworker is male? Depending on the country's culture, and your own gender there may be different approaches you can take.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 13:37
  • 1
    Have you ever dealt with teasing in your life? What did you do and what is it about this job that you feel normal strategies won't work? If this affects your work, you have to go to HR or risk your job.
    – user8365
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 17:33

4 Answers 4


The first step is to tell anyone who is teasing: "Stop it. You are not being funny. " The next time: "I told you to stop it before. You are not being funny, you are actually very annoying". The third time: "I am telling you for the third time to stop it. You are very annoying. If you don't stop it, I'll have to take action, and you won't like it". Each time you make a note in your notebook, visible to the person.

The fourth time, which shouldn't happen, you'll take your notebook and ask them to follow you to your manager, or to HR.

If it is a group, single out one person. Is it unfair? Well, they are singling you out.

  • 7
    I'll have to take action, and you won't like it that can be easily misinterpreted as a malicious threat, I would rephrase to something like I'll have to take action and report you to HR/our manager Also I think waiting for a 4th time to occur is just prolonging the annoyance, I would suggest just 3 strikes, at the 3rd one you're out buddy
    – Just Do It
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:13

I'm assuming that you and your co-worker are of opposite sexes, since that's the most likely scenario this happens in("Do you have a crush on her? ;)", you get my point).

If it's bad, you could complain to a manager. Have you tried doing that? Or a better way is, just ignore it. Things like this happen, just laugh it off.

One more thing you could try doing is finding out what the teasing is stemming from. If there's someone spreading rumors you could confront that person and ask them to stop it, or risk action from HR. If it's just a collective joke, ignoring it will be best.


Like always, the best course of action is to turn this against the people who have been initiating the talk. You could say something along the lines of "Wow, you sure do think a lot about workplace relationships, why do you think that might be the case"? Or maybe something more appropriate in your situation, you will know the best. If that does not work out, getting just a bit confrontational might also work such as "Are you actually implying that Me and XYZ are in some sort of a workplace relationship? Please stop insinuating as I find this insulting/aggravating/demeaning to my work here and might need to report this to the management".

It´s not your fault you have (obviously) immature co-workers, you should make it clear they should understand that they should keep their perverse thoughts to themselves.

  • Returning the teasing with more teasing is not a good strategy, because once you have joined in the behavior you no longer have a good case if you feel you need to escalate things by reporting to management, etc.
    – user45590
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 13:00
  • 1
    @RichardU I would address it with the individual(s) first, but you can do that in a straightforward way such as saying "Please don't make these jokes, I know you don't mean any harm but it bothers me and disrupts my work." Teasing in return actually creates the impression that you think teasing is an acceptable way of interaction.
    – user45590
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 14:03
  • 3
    @dan1111 I had an immature coworker write nasty things about me on a whiteboard. I corrected his spelling and grammar and graded it. It never happened again. Sometimes a dose of their own medicine is the best cure. Commented May 5, 2016 at 14:07
  • 1
    Please don't do this. It's never a good idea to respond to unprofessional behaviour with more unprofessional behaviour - not for you, not for them, not for the coworkers, not for the company. If they'll follow this advice too, they'll just respond with even more unprofessional behaviour. Don't mind terms like office rat, you're not in highschool anymore. Just as crimes need to be reported to the authorities, this behaviour needs to be reported to HR. gnasher's warning system is a good way to find balance between going to HR too fast and not going at all.
    – Konerak
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 6:31
  • 1
    @Konerak - Why is it unprofessional to expose their behaviour as immature ? Nota bene, I am not suggesting here to tease back, but merely to reflect in detail on their "teases" and expose their vulnerabilities. After all, they did make it fair since they were the ones to attack the co-worker who is responding. Do you really believe you can rely on management to sort these things out? Management will step in the first few times, afterwards, they will actually just put the complainer into the same basket with the immature ones. That's how it works in actual, real world.
    – Jas
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 6:43

Have you ever considered to have a recorder on or near you where people can see it? I wouldn't turn it on like ever, but just having one worked wonders for me. People don't like the chance of being recorded while pestering someone.

But in general don't feel bad for ignoring people. If it's not their actions that bothering you at this moment, but the fact that you are actively ignoring them then just think about it this way.

We got a lot of people on this planet caring about all of them is just impossible. And if you both don't feel like you are a thing who cares about others. If the other person is chill about it you can even make your own jokes about it, might even be fun.

You must log in to answer this question.

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