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Q & A

How do you politely handle a coworker who ‘talks down’ to you?  Not just me...but everyone.  But everyone puts up with the behavior.  

I wonder if the colleague knows how offensive everyone finds that style.  Would she stop is she knew?




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Best Answer

Trudy – if all else fails I suggest you crush up some nice happy pills and pop it in her coffee – I'm sure over a two week period you'll all notice a subtle difference ........ just a light hearted way of solving the problem and one I would use – just sharing the love with her !


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lazylola wrote Dec 17, 2009
    • I had a boss that continually did this to me and everyone else, belittled us if we “made mistakes“, we weren’t the ones making the mistakes as we were following his instructions. I began to ask for all instructions via email because I was too “stupid” to retain if I only heard it 5 times. On the occasions he would berate me over the phone I would hang up on him, he would call back and continue with his rant, I would hang up again. When he questioned the hang ups I simply explained to him that I wasn’t paid enough to be yelled at by anyone. After lunch one time w/ the company president (his direct boss) Mr. Pres. noticed the friction between us and took me aside...I expected to be reprimanded or fired for insubordination but he instead surprised me and asked what was going on, I told him, left very little out and showed him a trail of emails where he was calling all of us in administration stupid.....I had no problem doing my job and Mr. Pres. knew my value to the company.....so what happened...supposedly my boss was talked to, but the emails and calls continued, I arranged for most of our communication to be via email to protect myself. It worked for me, did he change? No. He eventually got a better paying job elsewhere.....crap....I don’t think I answered your ? but I rambled....lol....sorry....let me know this situation works out for you.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 17, 2009
    • No worries!  Glad I could distract you for a few minutes to rant!!   estatic




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Max0125 wrote Dec 17, 2009
    • I finally have learned the lesson that how a person acts and reacts to others is more a reflection on them than anything else. Trust me when I say that lesson has been beaten over my head many times before I got it.

       I am guessing that this individual grew up in an abusive home and she does not know how to communicate in an appropriate and professional manner. I am sure that you have heard the saying “When you know better, you do better.” To help her, there is a series of books entitled Crucial Conversations and  Crucial Confrontations. If you google crucial conversations, you can find the website. They have a lot of great tools including webinars. If it is creating a lot of issues, I would suuggest that your boss talks to her. Or, if you feel comfortable, just pull her aside, perhaps ask her out for coffee/tea and let her know how she comes across. So many people have no idea on how they appear to other people, much less how much baggage they are still carying around.

      If the above does not work, just accept that this is where she is now and don’t take it personally. Trust me, this can be a toughie! Just wish her well and be done with it. It isn’t really your issue, it is hers.

      Good Luck!




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Marilyn09 wrote Dec 17, 2009
    • I like what Max had to say.
      Its her problem not yours.
      We have a quote at work in the breakroom. “People may not always remember what you said- but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

       I feel inspired to say that I am concerned about how you feel. And it strikes me to think that maybe you dont feel all that awesome about yourself. Do you know what I mean?  Like how can someone “talk down” to you?  (Why are you giving your soul permission to think that way?)
      I dont mean for you to tell me what she said verbatum I mean its about how she makes you feel right? Like you are so stupid...  And its like you want to say Whatever- but you dont... you just think about it. Letting it fester and fester.

       If you felt awesome and just loved yourself you would not have a need to justify or explain the way that she talked to you- Your inner voice would be calm without all that self doubt and festering. You wouldnt even care to know “where you fit in“. You would just be happy doing your thing and suprised by all the compliments coming your way- It is so Easy. You would be awesome and everything around you would be awesome.

      And maybe you wont know what the truth is about her but you wont feel a need to wonder why she puts you down all the time either. You wouldnt even think that way.

      You have got to pick up the book “Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Max0125 wrote Dec 18, 2009
    • Great advice Marilyn! I love Don Miguel Ruiz and I should pick up that book. I also love Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Trust me that I also had to learn the meaning behind this quote.

      That said, I do realize the need for a good venting session. Sometimes situations build up to a critical mass where you need to blow it off.  

      Good luck with your coworker!




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 18, 2009
    • WOW!  What great input thank you!

      I would probably be inclined to ignore it entirely as I am of a mind, like Max, that it is just her way and its not personal.  

      However, happy, I am the Manager of Organizational Development and part of my job is to improve communication at my organization.  Several people had come to me and spoken in confidence about how this other manager really riles them up when she treats them ‘like an idiot‘.

      I counseled them to not take it personally...and then she did it to me!  I too was taken aback and immediately felt the need to verbally ‘defend’ myself. I didn’t...but the urge was there.  

      I can only imagine how this effecting her relationships across the organization, as well as morale of people who work with her.  

      Since then, I have seen her do this to people she thinks are ‘beneath’ her...but never to her ‘superiors‘.  

      Thanks for the insight.  I think I will hitting my library for those books.  Perhaps they can help me find a way to work with this issue effectively.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Anne E wrote Dec 19, 2009
    • I’d try to spend as little time as possible with her.  She is unlikely to change her behavior if confronted.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Max0125 wrote Dec 20, 2009
    • Trudy,

      Check out the crucial conversations website. They have free webinars and you may be able to refer your coworker to take one. Good luck.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Marilyn09 wrote Dec 21, 2009
    • wow- I cant even imagine what Don Miguel Ruiz would have to say about managing a difficult person. lol-

      I am happy to hear it tho‘.
      (That you are well rounded and can take things well.)

      Like Max, I think I would make her attend a seminar.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Dec 21, 2009
    • Trudy – if all else fails I suggest you crush up some nice happy pills and pop it in her coffee – I'm sure over a two week period you'll all notice a subtle difference ........ just a light hearted way of solving the problem and one I would use – just sharing the love with her !




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Karyn Olson wrote Dec 21, 2009
    • Yes I have been treated as such but have learned through the years to speak up for myself...I may appear quiet and have been called meek (which I thought was bad...until I looked it up in the dictionary) LOL
      Being of a minority I run into this all the time and find that I have more to prove than the next person...and I usually do in a polite but straight to the point manner...if that doesn’t work then I have no choice but to be a bit more verbal and straight to the point....I like LazyLola am not paid enough to be treated that way and I am not about to start allowing it.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 21, 2009
    • Vicki!  You crack me up!




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 21, 2009
    • Karyn!  That is a great assertive way to handle it.  Thank you!




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Angelcart wrote Dec 22, 2009
    • I too would spend as little time around her as possible.  I’ve worked with people like that before.  I finally told the guy how I felt about his attitude.  He didn’t change but at least I got it off my chest and let him know.




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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 23, 2009
    • Yes!  Thanksfully she is not my supervisor!  tongue out




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