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I work in a metropolitan city. Most employees are permanent, protected by a strong union and hard to fire. I am a temporary employee, and I have been working in the same team for several years.

A few months ago, an employee from another team that sits next to ours came up to me, and said that I should cut off my hair and give it to children with cancer. While I feel sorry for children suffering from cancer and their family, it doesn't mean women should have to cut off all their hair.

At first, I tried joking it off because I was really taken aback by what he said. A few days ago, the same coworker came up to me and told me again to cut off my hair and give it to make wigs for children with cancer. Again, I tried to deflect the conversation and joke it off.

I really don't want to file any complaints because:

  • It's a waste of time. I enjoy my work and get value from the tasks.
  • It seems the person making the complaint would get vilified somehow.
  • The coworker may not realize his wrong behavior, and won't stop.

How do I make this stop? Is there anything I can do proactively, or is it wait and watch?

  • Hello, welcome to the workplace. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a question in your post, so I am voting to close this question as unclear what you're asking. – Masked Man Sep 17 '17 at 12:10
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    This question could easily be cut down to about a third of its current length, so more people would be willing to read it. Why is the salary gap so important? – NoBackingDown Sep 17 '17 at 12:14
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    @user5919 So where is the relevance of the salary gap for answering your question? – NoBackingDown Sep 17 '17 at 12:26
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    BTW. Cutting off your hair would be treated as assault. – gnasher729 Sep 17 '17 at 14:45
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    People can be "against police" and "complain they are victims" all they want, if they are charged with assault they'll still have to face court/jail/fines. The police is not opt-in only. – Erik Sep 18 '17 at 14:57
45

How do I make this stop?

This is a ridiculous request and doesn't even deserve an acknowledgement beyond the first.

Just keep saying "Sorry, I like my hair the way it is and I'm not planning to cut it. So let's stop asking, okay?" until the requests stop coming.

  • Mr Joe you are absolutely right. I like the way you worded the response. I wish I can be more straightforward the first time! – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 16:05
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    Very concise. This will stop the conversation then and there! – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 22:30
  • @user5919 And if it doesn't, you should consider having a conversation with HR about this. – Cronax Sep 18 '17 at 14:49
  • @Cronax Indeed I shall – user5919 Sep 18 '17 at 15:47
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It sounds like you haven't said "stop" yet. You've laughed (because it's laughable and ridiculous) and you've deflected. Now it's time to be straight-ahead.

I don't know what it is with you and my hair. If these suggestions are based on something that we need to discuss, let's discuss it. If not, I would appreciate it if you didn't make that suggestion again.

Or, if that sounds too educated and superior,

Not going to happen. Also, not something I need to hear again.

And should it happen again:

Enough!

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    these are great ideas too. I was also thinking along the lines of 'enough'. just want to end the conversation with this person. – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 13:55
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    An atmospheric variation: first, "This idea has ceased to be funny.", and, if it repeats, "This is not your decision to make. You heard my response, and I will not further discuss that." [note that I do not even mention hair here!] – Captain Emacs Sep 17 '17 at 19:39
  • @captainemacs that is good suggestion too! – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 19:59
  • @apaul34208 I saw that answer, there's no need to link to it. I already knew this was a thing. It's a thing that adult women (don't say girls, please) may choose to do. Not something a coworker can repeatedly tell you that you should do. Women's bodies, including their hair, belong to themselves not random coworkers. – Kate Gregory Sep 24 '17 at 10:31
  • I was more trying to point out the context that was removed. Seemed like that sort of changes the situation a bit. Also, I used the word "girls" because at the time when I knew these people we were children growing up together, I wasn't referring to adult women as girls. – apaul Sep 24 '17 at 13:41
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This seems to have a hint of gender-based harassment to it. Unfortunately, if you're not going to escalate it (a strongly-worded letter from an attorney would change things real quick!) then maybe the best thing you can do is to refuse to speak to the guy who's harassing you. He's probably enjoying the responses you're giving him, so if you stop responding, he may leave you alone.

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Asking you to cut off your hair is absurd. Your response should be absurd. When he comes, take out your lipstick and tell him that he would look much nicer with a bit of lipstick on. Tell him that you will donate $10 to children with cancer if he wears lipstick all day. If he says "no", you can then tell everyone that he hates children with cancer. If you think this is mean of you, donate $20 anyway without telling anyone.

  • that's a great idea. – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 12:20
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    Is a fun idea, but risk to cause unnecesary confrontation. – Juan Carlos Oropeza Sep 17 '17 at 18:24
  • @JuanCarlosOropeza, This is the most elegant solution and I don't see how this would cause unnecessary confrontation. I would buy a cheap sealed hello kitty lipstick at the dollar store for that though. You don't want the color to match your color and you probably don't want to exchange germs. – Stephan Branczyk Sep 17 '17 at 19:13
  • It is hard to know as how much of a joke that co-worker sees it. If he does, this may work. But if there is an element of seriousness in it, I would not embark on this route, because it would play the co-worker's game. The advice to stay out and cut it short is probably safer on the long run. The vibe between OP and the co-worker is already not great, I wouldn't give it an opening to additional taunts. – Captain Emacs Sep 17 '17 at 19:51
  • yes I would try to keep it short. the idiot coworker would think the lipstick is all fun and games. as for confrontation it already occurred whe he opened his stupid mouth – user5919 Sep 17 '17 at 20:01
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No is the simple answer to such questions. Normally people perceived and act accordingly but they never realized the other person's position and situation.

Your first response must be "Why?". You haven't asked "why should I?", "why not you?". But its OK now. You need not to confront with anyone. Just politely tell your colleague that you are not interested to do so and you love your hair so much. you will pray for those children that Almighty Allah(God) will bless them with good health so that they will have their own original hair instead wearing some wigs.

Now Smile... For future you must have to learn about how to give up shut-up call to someone regardless of your job circumstances.

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    I don't think the religious references make sense here, since the OP mentioned nothing about that. – Erik Sep 18 '17 at 15:00
  • @sundas Thank you for the advice and Khuda Hafiz :) – user5919 Sep 18 '17 at 15:48
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"He said another employee (who is contractor on H1B visa, has long hair like mine), has donated her hair."

https://workplace.stackexchange.com/revisions/99099/2

This seems like a pretty important contextual detail why was it edited out?

I'm a little surprised that this hasn't been mentioned before, but donating your hair for this reason is a real thing.

http://www.locksoflove.org

I remember a number of girls, who I grew up with, growing out and then cutting off 10 inches of their hair for this purpose. It was sort of like their "ice bucket challenge"

I can appreciate that you're not interested in cutting your hair, but this isn't necessarily gender based harassment or him picking on you. He may just be trying to raise awareness for a charitable organization...

The easiest way to get him to stop is probably to just tell him something like:

It sounds like a great cause, but I'm not interested.

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