Work appropriate talkJanuary 5, 2024 at 11:01 pm #1127511
One of my coworkers commented in front of my boss that I was ‘always hungry’. My boss and her were going out to lunch and I was fed up of the small talk so I said I just had coffee and I wasn’t hungry. Thats when she commented wow that’s unusual for u , u r always hungry … haha as soon as its noon she goes off to the cafeteria. I was really shocked with that comment and told them I have an early start to the day (30 mins before them) so I eat on time. The comment bothered me all day so I msgd her and asked her on the messenger asking do i always seem hungry at work to which she replied oh no I meant u always have your meals on time. I didn’t speak to her the rest of the day. Am i over reacting? It just really inappropriate talk and she probably doesn’t realize it. Shes done it before too when she suddenly asked me one day how old I was. I don’t think im obligated to answer that question. Please let me know if i shd talk to her ? It’s bothering me a lot.KateJanuary 6, 2024 at 6:57 am #1127514
I think your co-worker definitely needs to think more about what she’s saying. What she said about your eating habits in front of the boss wasn’t cool because 1) it challenged your polite excuse for not going to lunch, which is rude, and 2) it implies you think more about food than work and stick to a rigid routine. So yeah, either pretty dumb on her part or she’s trying to make you look bad. And asking someone how old they are at work unless among friends, also not really cool. Age shouldn’t really be considered in the workplace. It can perpetuate biases and so on. It should be about tenure, years of experience, and above all skill and talent and competency. My boss is always asking how old we are and I hate it.
But what she’s done in these two instances doesn’t really rise to the level of bullying or harassment. I would talk to her when she says these things. If she asks how old you are, “why do you ask?” If she pushes, “old enough to be out on my own.” And maybe “hey, the boss doesn’t need to hear about my eating habits, okay?” After the fact. In the moment you didn’t need to get defensive, you could just kind of look at her blankly and say “yes we usually do eat around noon.” Or, “…and?” Because wtf. That’s totally normal!
What I’m saying is call her out and shut her down and then move on. You can’t really give a co-worker the silent treatment. You can choose to have less engagement of a personal nature though.
So I have a coworker who likes to eat at 11:30 on the dot. My office has two kitchenettes and pre-COVID he would keep his food in the one closest to my office, so he’d pass by at the same time every day. He’s tall and lanky, and you could just tell by his bouncy walk/swinging arms/demeanor that he was pumped for lunch. I found it endearing, it was one of my favorite parts of my pre-COVID workday to see him walk by at his lunchtime. In theory, I could see myself commenting on it, not in a mean or inappropriate way… like, if it somehow came up? And I’d not phrase it like your coworker. It’s rude to say someone is always hungry, especially publicly.
I think when you asked over messenger if you always seem hungry, there was an opportunity to say, “Your comment rubbed me the wrong way and I’d appreciate if you didn’t comment on my eating habits.” Commenting on people’s food — what they’re eating, how much they’re eating, whether it’s “healthy” or not, etc. — is increasingly a topic people understand they should not comment on since so many people have issues around food.
At work, our executive director used to comment on my clothes sometimes. Not often, he works out of a different office, and he was never sexualizing me or anything (at least not aloud). He was attempting to make jokes, he thinks he’s funny, but it was weird and inappropriate. Initially I’d laugh uncomfortably. I stopped doing that. I never felt comfortable saying anything about it directly and it never felt like it rose to the level that I’d bring it up to my boss. The last time it happened, I stared at him straight faced and let the awkwardness of his comment hang in the air. It didn’t happen again, that was probably five or six years ago.
Other phrases I’ve used when asked questions I find inappropriate, though not in a work context:
– A cheery “Oh, what an odd thing to ask!”
– “Why would you ask me that?”
– “I don’t see how that’s relevant.”
Anyway, I think it’s fine to say directly that you don’t appreciate the personal questions or open commentary on food habits in a non-confrontational way if you’re deeply upset by the comments.LisforLeslieJanuary 8, 2024 at 7:27 am #1127536
For now, let it go. The next time your coworker says something about your personal habits in front of your boss, try spinning it back on her like “How much time are you spending monitoring my activities? Should I be worried about this?” or “Oh, coworker you do seem rather obsessed with what I do during the day. What’s up with that?”Miss MJJanuary 8, 2024 at 2:42 pm #1127539
I mean, these are rude questions/comments, but I don’t think they rise to the level of anger you’re putting out there, you know? Your co-worker is annoying and lacks the emotional intelligence necessary to recognize very basic work-place boundaries. Unfortunately, that’s not at all uncommon – I once had a human resources manager pull up the back of my suit jacket to see the label when she asked what designer it was (spoiler: it was like Express or something – first job out of school – and she was quite disappointed). Some people are just off and life is easier if you just chalk that up to being Weird Jane in Accounting as opposed to being really about you because I’m betting she’s Weird Jane to everyone. You can try to undertake the emotional labor of educating her about workplace norms and how it’s frowned upon to talk about others’ eating habits or ages at work, but it’s probably not worth the effort, tbh, and she’ll get all “offended” and whatnot. I’d just limit my interactions with her to what is necessary for my work, keep it professional at all times and roll my eyes at her as needed.KateJanuary 8, 2024 at 3:46 pm #1127540
@MissMJ almost along those lines, my boss said she liked my pants, and I said thank you, they are on sale at Loft (all her work clothes are from Loft, and she needs Petites, which these pants come in). She goes, “Are you a size X at Loft?” WTF. I was just like, oh, idk. Then she told me what size she is at Loft, which I don’t believe.
People suck.KateJanuary 8, 2024 at 3:51 pm #1127541
Whether you decide to educate someone / call them out or not, you should not tell them your age or weight or anything personal like that if they aren’t your friend and you don’t want to. You don’t have to play along. I did once give in finally and tell my boss how old I am, and I was pissed at myself after. It’s none of her business and I know she’s just asking because she’s insecure. She’s trying to figure out how people compare to her as far as what age they reached a certain title. I should have just kept being like, “oh you know, I’ve been around a long time,” or “nope, haven’t had a shingles shot yet.”
I don’t understand the point of asking someone at work their age. You can literally Google that information and (most likely) find public record info that includes age without outing yourself as a nosy or insecure busybody at work.
But yeah, most odd/rude/inappropriate comments, in and out of the workplace, absolutely stem from insecurity. Like the appearance-minded executive director? I’ve heard him make “jokes” about others’ appearances, it’s not just me. I’ve also heard him talk about whatever diet he’s on at the moment on several occasions. I’d put money on his jokes about appearance being deeply rooted in whatever it is he feels about his own appearance. The person commenting on food and eating habits probably has a bad relationship with food. The person asking about age has hang-ups about their age and aging. I know I’ve been guilty before of projecting my own shit onto others here and there.
If I had a dime for every time I heard a woman call her food “unhealthy” because it wasn’t a salad or something nutrient dense and she hadn’t unpacked the diet culture she grew up around, I’d be rich.
Miss MJJanuary 8, 2024 at 6:35 pm #1127544
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Copa.
@Kate – She asked you your SIZE? Oh, my god. What even goes through people’s heads when they’re getting to that point. And @Copa, I mostly work from home now, but I HATED the “oh, I’m being bad” talk if someone eats a piece of cake. FFS, eat the cake or don’t, but for the love of god stop asking us all to validate your choice. (As someone recovering from an eating disorder who WILL eat the damned cake, I may be particularly sensitive to this one…)KateJanuary 8, 2024 at 7:53 pm #1127545
She asked me if I was a SPECIFIC size!KateJanuary 8, 2024 at 7:54 pm #1127546
Which I feel is creepier because it’s like she was evaluating my body.LisforLeslieJanuary 9, 2024 at 9:18 am #1127547
It is creepier, like eyeing your butt creepy.