1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Toxic, condescending co-workers: To respond or not respond?

Discussion in 'The Lockdown Lounge' started by Jimmy Todd, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    I have a work meeting Monday on a touchy subject which I raised. There's a colleague who will be there who is the definition of "toxic." He doesn't discuss, he lectures, and always in a hostile, condescending manner. He is a master of saying things just to get under people's skin just to get a rise out them.
    My dilemma is that I know it's best not to engage such people because that's what they want. However, there's a point where his comments are so condescending they are really insulting.
    Anyone have experience in this and have had success in maintaining a balance of not being drawn into their game and not sitting there and taking their poison?
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Star EXP: 12 Years

    Threads:
    167
    Messages:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    1,098
    Occupation:
    Rock Guitarist
    Location:
    Maryland
    Ratings:
    +2,651
    Medals:
    2
    You have the choice to either not engage him in any conversation, or to find out if he can take it as well as he can dish it out. In my experience, they usually can't.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    I am so tempted to really dish it out to him. I've argued with him before, but I've held back a bit in the interest of "being professional" and not "stooping to his level."
    I wonder how Jock would handle this meeting. Or JR. I wouldn't use bribery and blackmail, lol but JR always seemed to know how to take control of the conversation, even when he eas completely wrong.
     
  4. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Star EXP: 12 Years

    Threads:
    167
    Messages:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    1,098
    Occupation:
    Rock Guitarist
    Location:
    Maryland
    Ratings:
    +2,651
    Medals:
    2
    I understand not wanting to sink to his level. However, if holding back isn't turning out to be effective, you might want to consider saying something to him. I don't know the details of the situation enough to be able to say I absolutely think you should find out if he can take it as well as he can dish it out, but it's something to consider. The best case scenario in trying that would be that he really doesn't like it when someone treats him as he treats others and he starts being easier to work with. You know best how you feel comfortable handling the problem.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  5. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Supreme EXP: 16 Years

    Threads:
    674
    Messages:
    12,814
    Trophy Points:
    5,142
    Occupation:
    Civil Servant
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +11,053
    Medals:
    7
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Your description describes my line manager perfectly, although in her case add "doesn't listen, can't spell, won't admit she doesn't know anything".

    Swami
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

    Threads:
    52
    Messages:
    3,687
    Trophy Points:
    5,636
    Location:
    Sunny South Florida
    Ratings:
    +6,280
    Medals:
    4
    Member Since:
    June 10, 2000
    If the person is more or less equal to you in the power structure at work, it might be worth it to let your supervisor know that you have been making the effort to remain professional, even as that co-worker has not. You don't even have to go on a rant; just letting your boss know with a simple turn of phrase that you are making an effort to be a pro in the situation gives you something of an excuse later on if things go south with your nemesis. Bonus points for you if the guy has just done something rude in front of the boss or others, because your mini-confession will then amplify every other rude thing he does from that point on.

    If he gets really obnoxious during your meeting, then that's a gift, actually; everyone will see how he really is and react against it (either silently or verbally). If his interruptions aren't actually helping the meeting along (and are just making the meeting never end), your co-workers will begin to resent how his interruptions and lectures are abusing their time. Find out ahead of the meeting if the others need the meeting to end on time (to get their other tasks done) and point out his departures from the topic at hand will need to be discussed later in the interest of valuing others' time. If the boss sees this person is undermining a meeting's purpose and making others upset, this might be a reason to have him excluded from meetings that need to be short and to the point.

    If you decide to go another way....if he interrupts with a lecture on how you should do things and you've had enough of him, just calmly say "Y'know, I've tried really hard to see things from your point of view the past few weeks. But I found that I simply can't get my head that far up my own behind.":hat:
     
  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

    Threads:
    281
    Messages:
    13,157
    Trophy Points:
    9,250
    Occupation:
    marriage counselor
    Location:
    Plotville, Shenanigan
    Ratings:
    +23,809
    Medals:
    15
    Member Since:
    April 2002
    For your peace of mind, don't make it bigger and more important than it really is. It's amazing how angry people can get during an argument eventhough they wouldn't care about the subject in a different context.
    If you can anticipate this co-worker's reactions then you could prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario (e.g. a never ending true/false discussion) and find a way to keep the focus on the concrete issue at hand.
    Try to avoid words like "I think" and "I feel". Because someone else is going to think and feel differently and then you don't have a discussion anymore.

    Incidentally, what's the touchy subject all about, and what made you decide to address the issue (since, apparently, the others didn't?).
    Maybe you could rehearse with us, Daniel Avery will play the toxic co-worker with the bitchy, Southern twang.:popcorn:
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    • Cyber Hug Cyber Hug x 1
  8. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    This is great advice! Thank you so much:)

    Here's the jist of the issue: in the U.S.(and everywhere) there have been tremendous racial tensions brought to the surface recently. I'm a teacher and the controversy has intensified so that it has touched my school in that students complained about racism, sexism, and feeling marginalized. In our department meeting there was a huge discussion about it. The entire tone was very judgmental of all the other departments and the administration. Not too long ago there was a situation involving blatant sexism and systemic racism. I and two other teachers(who are in different departments) brought it to light. We were at best ignored, at worst attacked verbally. I brought this up more than once with my department head and others and was ignored.
    Keep in mind many, many people who work/teach at my school are graduates. While my department was being highly critical of everyone else and making just the right politically correct comments, I pointed out the question of how can we point fingers now that is a topical issue if we allow the same thing to happen? I also pointed out the culture of cronyism that comes from so many graduates and relatives/spouses of alumni and current employees in one place. I stated I knowva little bit about feeling marginalized from my own experience. I tried to be professional and to make it clear this isn't all about me and that I'm not a victin. I did have to get that off my chest.
    The department head never responded(this is all through email), but Mr. Toxic responded by saying the fault is mine because I'm obviously not capable of understanding how to express myself clearly. He was even more condescending than that, actually.
    I emailed my department with a very succinct but email reiterating my points because one member suggested I be more clear. We are having an online meeting tomorrow, and I said anyone who wants to directly address me can.
    I'm preparing for Mr. Toxic and his attacks and snide comments. He is all about getting under people's skin and proving he's right no matter what. Part of me wants to get under his skin to see him lose his temper so I can say, "Sable, you're practically foaming at the mouth like a rabid bitch:llooll:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and any thoughts you have.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

    Threads:
    52
    Messages:
    3,687
    Trophy Points:
    5,636
    Location:
    Sunny South Florida
    Ratings:
    +6,280
    Medals:
    4
    Member Since:
    June 10, 2000
    In the very early years of the internet there was a beautiful word: "plonk". When someone said something mean or inappropriate and you didn't think it deserved a response...but you wanted to let them know it wasn't worth your time, you just cited the whole rant, then wrote "plonk" and changed the subject. It's the "sound" of you figuratively dropping it in the trash or ditching it. It was wonderfully dismissive, but very few people would remember it today.

    Perhaps, if he says something like that again in the new meeting, you could politely reply that yes, you got that message the last time he said it, and it's no less insulting the second time than it was the first time. If he claims he wasn't trying to be insulting, then suggest he learn to express himself more clearly.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    Thank you! That's a very hood response. I'm going to remember that:box:
     
  11. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Star EXP: 12 Years

    Threads:
    167
    Messages:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    1,098
    Occupation:
    Rock Guitarist
    Location:
    Maryland
    Ratings:
    +2,651
    Medals:
    2
    Jimmy, could you tell us how the meeting yesterday went? What approach did you use and how did it work?
     
  12. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

    Threads:
    24
    Messages:
    1,633
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Ratings:
    +911
    In my world, plonk = grog; unless I'm parking my ass, lol.
     
  13. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Supreme EXP: 16 Years

    Threads:
    674
    Messages:
    12,814
    Trophy Points:
    5,142
    Occupation:
    Civil Servant
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +11,053
    Medals:
    7
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    I am pleased to report I am enjoying blissful peace and quiet this week, the dreaded line manager is on leave.

    But already dreading what next week will bring!

    Swami
     
  14. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator EXP: 21 Years Staff Member

    Threads:
    530
    Messages:
    5,679
    Trophy Points:
    6,136
    Occupation:
    Actress
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    Ratings:
    +6,920
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    1998
    Plonk here means to sit down :) Plonk yourself.
     
  15. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    Thanks for asking:) The chairperson rescheduled it at the last minute to tomorrow, Wednesday.
    I plan to use a lot of the tips you, Willie and Daniel Avery suggested. I'll definitely post how it goes:)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    So, I had the meeting, and surprisingly Mr. Toxic wasn't as horrible as I anticipated. He's worse when he sends someone an email. I guess in front of a group of people he reins himself in a bit. He was his usual egotistical, pompous self, but didn't directly attack.
    The point I made about the cronyism and sexism was repeatedly brushed aside with "strawman tactics" by the department head to divert the issue. I had to point blank say that that was what he was doing.
    Two people emailed me privately saying they agreed, but only one would speak up in the meeting and say that. One person flatout said if an issue doesn't pertain to her personally, she doesn't care about it! No one else spoke at all.

    I uses everyone's advice, which helped tremendously:best:

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  17. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

    Threads:
    52
    Messages:
    3,687
    Trophy Points:
    5,636
    Location:
    Sunny South Florida
    Ratings:
    +6,280
    Medals:
    4
    Member Since:
    June 10, 2000
    I think you will find that for every one person who stands up, there are at least five who won't--or can't--that agree. Putting the topic/issue out there nudges some people toward forming an opinion even if they can't express it as plainly as you have (if at all). That one who said
    sounds like the kind who has been burned in the past by expressing an unpopular opinion. Which is fine--some people have a lot riding on keeping a job and are not willing to risk it even for things that are worth hashing out. They can blame the bosses for how miserable they are at work even as they ignore the fact that they're doing nothing to try to improve their own situation. Some things are not solvable, of course; if it involves a lot of people worried that their own comfortable position might be jeopardized, they may not want to rock the boat....even if the boat has sprung a leak and is sinking. :eek:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Star EXP: 12 Years

    Threads:
    167
    Messages:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    1,098
    Occupation:
    Rock Guitarist
    Location:
    Maryland
    Ratings:
    +2,651
    Medals:
    2
    I think you hit the nail on the head with “in front of a group of people he reins himself in a bit.” Bullies (and to me, that person seems like one) can be more easily rattled than some people might think, and for this one, even having to be in front of people changed his behavior. That’s why I suggested considering finding out if he can take it as well as he can dish it out. Usually they can't.

    The problem with their type of thinking, is if they aren’t willing to help others, who is going to be there for them when a situation arises where they’d appreciate some help?

    Do you feel comfortable giving an example of the acts of sexism you were trying to bring to people’s attention so that something would be done about it? I’m curious now.

    It sounds like although the meeting wasn’t a complete success, it wasn’t a complete failure either. I’m glad that advice you got in this thread turned out to be helpful!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

    Threads:
    68
    Messages:
    1,002
    Trophy Points:
    690
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Member Since:
    2019
    Do you feel comfortable giving an example of the acts of sexism you were trying to bring to people’s attention so that something would be done about it? I’m curious now.


    My department has a few people who love to loudly and often tell everyone their political views and basically lecturing about the evils of sexism, racism, and the oppressing workers' rights. I've never actually seen them do anything about these things, just lecture everyone else. Mr. Toxic is the most obnoxious of these.
    Anyway, a female member of our union was blatantly lied to about an issue by our union rep. He refused to respond to her emails. In fact, he only responds to his friends,(Mr. Toxic and the chairperson are among them) which is just another example of the cronyism. She wanted to know when our union was going to have a meeting. He doesn't want meetings, despite it being part of his job to have at least 2 a year. There's also a lot of shenanigans he's been involved in, including sabotaging our meeting do they couldn't happen. I made it known to the faculty and twice to the self-proclaimed "male feminists" that this was going on. They ignored it. A week ago they were being particularly obnoxious criticizing everyone on the building for being "conservative bigots, sexists, etc." This was through a department email chain. I responded to the chain that they can't point fingers at anyone because there's a situation going on in their own backyard they ignore. That's when Mr. Toxic sent me his condescending email, which led me to push the issue with a follow up email. From there came yesterday's meeting.
    I'm not putting down "feminists," "liberals," "conservatives" or anyone. I just had enough of this attitude from some individuals in my department of, "We're liberals and anyone who doesn't agree with us is stupid because we're so superior." By the way, only one of these is a woman. The other two are men. First of all, politics shouldn't even come up in a professional place, but our chairperson promotes it. Second, constant toxicity and complaining is draining. The third and final straw is these people don't even do anything about it when it's right in front of them.
    I don't mean to offend liberals or feminists. These few people in my department just happen to consider themselves as such.
    I actually love most of my job. This aspect I could do without.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Star EXP: 12 Years

    Threads:
    167
    Messages:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    1,098
    Occupation:
    Rock Guitarist
    Location:
    Maryland
    Ratings:
    +2,651
    Medals:
    2
    Have you noticed that there has been an increase in the amount of overtly political talk that shouldn’t come up in a professional place that corresponds proportionately to the proliferation of the internet in our culture? Most of us here have probably experienced life as an adult both before the internet existed and after its advent. There have always been people who were highly interested in politics but even they, for the most part, used to talk about it in settings where it was appropriate. They also used to be able to have civil conversations about politics on a regular basis and it was just a few people who would actually lose self control when discussing politics.

    Politics didn’t used to be as divisive either. There have always been extremists and sure, if you believed in communism and you lived here, that would definitely tend to provoke people, but on average, people weren’t as divided about their political beliefs as they are now. Only during the Vietnam War do I (barely) recall political talk getting so heated on a regular basis. That was understandable when young men were being drafted to fight in a war that a lot of people thought was a mistake anyway. We don’t have any type of situation now that’s comparable to that many young men being drafted for war, but the political tension is still almost as if we were in the middle of another Vietnam War. I’ve seen that tension rise to a degree that’s been amazingly proportionate to the amount of influence we’ve allowed the internet to have over our lives.

    You noticed how “Mr. Toxic” spoke differently in front of people than the way he wrote emails. The internet has allowed people behave in ways that they wouldn’t choose to if they were talking to people face to face. People’s self-accountability tends to drop when they can act in ways where there won’t be negative consequences for their negative behavior. The internet has served as the perfect vehicle for people to act in ways that where they don’t have to take responsibility for what they say. There are very limited if any consequences for bad behavior on the internet and the more accustomed people become to doing that, the more that behavior starts to creep into their everyday lives.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1

Share This Page