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The office I work for is a start-up that is doing web development and freshly started software development and a colleague of mine with whom I have been in university (same classes and everything) is now my colleague at the office too, but we do different jobs (he is doing web dev with the rest and I'm the only software dev (junior of course) ) and is stressing me a lot. Being the only software dev and being a junior above all is stressing enough, but here comes the extra weight, my colleague is being pushy (staying obnoxiously close to me when I'm concentrating on something, breathing loudly intentionally while doing so, always looking into my code and seeing what I write and asking stupid questions about some icons or a variable) and I tried this:

  • Tried to ignore him while we were in university
  • Told him to back off as I don't enjoy his presence (while still in university)
  • Asked him nicely to back off (while at work)
  • Talked to the manager (he told me that "you know how he is, just ignore him")

What is the next step to try and make everything OK so I can continue my work without being hindered all the time.

  • 4
    Does he work beside you? Are you sure he's doing this on purpose? He could be socially inept. Also, ethical is not a good word to describe this. Consider changing the title to be more descriptive of the actual problem. – DCON Jul 13 '17 at 8:39
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    If he does this on everyone how can you be sure that he wants to annoy you when he does it to you? Does he try to annoy everyone too? How is it different from what he does to everyone else, apart from the fact that you're annoyed by it? – rath Jul 13 '17 at 8:43
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    I know he does this on purpose because he said it himself while I asked him privately why is he doing this. That is why I'm desperate, I like to work in silence or music, I don't like being invaded and annoyed while concentrating. – Schneejäger Jul 13 '17 at 8:56
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    Putting his feet on my computer would be cause for a broken leg. – gnasher729 Jul 13 '17 at 11:47
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    After talking with my fellow colleague this morning (after talking again with the manager) I have reached a conclusion and he stopped bugging me, he is indifferent to me and that is bliss. Thanks for the advice everybody! You were truly useful :D ! – Schneejäger Jul 17 '17 at 7:38
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You escalate this as follows:

  • Speak to him
  • Speak to your manager
  • Speak to someone even higher up (if you have a relationship with someone there) or HR
  • Move to a different team / seat (if possible) or find a different job

You can approach the same person again with a "nothing changed"-type of conversation if they committed to doing something from their side.

At this stage you can probably approach your coworker about this in a more formal manner (ask him if he has a few minutes for a chat and go speak in private) and then speak to your manager again and try to present a better case, as outlined below.

No matter who you speak to, you should focus on the following points:

  • The specific behaviour that you have a problem with
  • How it affects you personally, specifically in terms of your productivity and mental well-being (which should be important to your manager, and might be important to HR if his behaviour can be considered some form of harassment)
  • How serious it is to you (something like "I can't go on like this" can work, but I would strongly recommend against saying "I'm considering leaving over this" - that can come across as more of a threat, but it might be an option if you've exhausted every other possibility and (1) you can't live with this and (2) you really want to keep working there)
  • What you've done to deal with the problem thus far
  • How this problem can be fixed (presenting a few possible solutions would help your case, but it's possible for the only solution here to be "talk to him and convince him to cut it out" - don't use those words though)
  • Ask questions (don't make demands) - What do you think about this? Can anything be done about this? Would it be possible for you to speak to him regarding this? Etc.
  • Did most of the things you said, but there is only one team as I'm alone in SDev and the only other free space is to his other side. As this is the first full-time job I don't want to quit, I've been around as an intern since college and almost the inception of the office. – Schneejäger Jul 13 '17 at 9:21
  • and what does your manager say about this? – user151019 Jul 18 '17 at 12:48
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I've got a solution. Don't give him any context to bug you about.

If you use a Windows box, any time he approaches, hit Windows Key-M, or Windows Key-L. Pick up a book until he leaves. If you need to, take a walk. Talk to him as little as possible. Eventually he'll get the message. It's sad that you'd have to take it so far but this is the extent of what you can do without things getting physical.

  • Will do and try this, I'll be back on Monday at the office. – Schneejäger Jul 13 '17 at 19:27
  • Keep a diary of his irritating behaviour towards you with quotes and actions. Even photos if possible, Make no secret about logging his actions whilst he is there, Even ask him to repeat things he says so you can write them down. – Steve Ives Jul 13 '17 at 20:53
  • @SteveIves to what end, do I show them to the manager or do I keep them for myself? – Schneejäger Jul 17 '17 at 7:30
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    @wickerman Because if you ever want to make a formal complaint about his bullying and harassment (because that's what it is), you will fare much better if you've documented the occurrences, and you can't do that retrospectively, so start now. – Steve Ives Jul 17 '17 at 7:58
  • Sounds good, time consuming but good. Thanks! – Schneejäger Jul 17 '17 at 8:05
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The next step would be to go to your manager again and tell him that this person's behaviour cannot be ignored, that it deeply upsets you, and (importantly) that it interferes with your work.

Your manager doesn't want to be involved with this, and it would be great for him if you could solve the problem yourself, but since you can't, it is his job to do something about it.

In addition, when he comes close to you, you get up from your chair, turn towards him and tell him to his face to get away from your desk, and ask him whether he hasn't got any work to do. Getting up is important. An alternative would be to first eat a greasy sandwich, then walk up behind him, point with your greasy fingers on his screen and say loudly "That's wrong. You can't do it like that".

  • I have asked him the "haven't you got anything work to do?" but didn't raise from my seat. Telling him to "get away from my desk" just makes him repeat what I said and creeping closer. I like your methods though. Will try the sandwich. – Schneejäger Jul 13 '17 at 12:06
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    At that stage it sounds like either harassment or mental illness. – gnasher729 Jul 13 '17 at 16:17
  • "This makes me feel uncomfortable. Could you please move away from this location?" – Captain Emacs Jul 14 '17 at 0:46
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You need to get out of there

"Why are you always on my nerves and repeating what I say in a childish manner?" the response was "Why wouldn't I? Am I not allowed?", responding to questions with questions and repetition..

That response from your coworker, combined with your answers to other questions, points to a person that is unstable.

This person will never respect others and does not appear to even recognize that others have rights.

I would view him as a threat.

Your management seems to tolerate his behavior and his lack of productivity which is also a very bad sign.

Therefore, nothing is going to change for you.

Advice:

  1. Start looking for a new job right now. As you point out, your experience level is low, so it will be hard for you, but not impossible! Each day that passes adds to that experience. You WILL eventually find something!

  2. Share with your manager (again) your co-workers actions to date, and then the response to "WHY" he is doing these weird things - especially the "Am I not allowed?", and tell your manager that you view that response as a threat to you and that you hope this co-worker does not escalate his threatening behavior further where problems might arise. Then, ASK your manager what he wants you to do to avoid any problems with this co-worker.

This will make it clear to your manager that this isn't a joke and might prompt the manager to do something. I doubt it though, which is why you need to get out of there.

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    And don't tell your annoying colleague where you're going! – A. I. Breveleri Jul 13 '17 at 19:29
  • Do NOT look for a new job. If you think the only solution is for the two of you to work in different companies, then do what you can do to remove that person from your company. – gnasher729 Jul 14 '17 at 7:34
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    @gnasher729, I would totally agree with you except for three things: 1. Management does not seem to mind this guy going around and bugging PRODUCTIVE employees. 2. Management does not seem to mind that this guy himself is NOT productive. 3. This is a start up, where every penny counts. Conclusion: Management does not value good employees, tolerates bad ones and is not managing their money properly. Time to find an organization that values hard work and dedication - and is likely to survive. – user45269 Jul 14 '17 at 11:39
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I had a similar experience once. I joined a team as lead developer and almost from day one, one of the devs in my team would continually wind me up, using a wicked combination of put downs, comebacks, and full blown insults. It was a relentless and sustained assault, and after a week it started to seriously affect my ability to function in my role effectively.

I bore this for about a month, after which time the daily abuse started to intrude into my dreams (I am not kidding). After one particularly bad night, I decided enough was enough. The next day at work, the minute I saw him I said to him "You know I dreamed about you last night", and proceeded to tell him, in great detail, the whole dream in front, and to the general amusement, of the entire team.

I found that this caused his behaviour to completely change and he actually became a trusted and valued colleague over the following months.

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