What to say to coworker who says "Oh Wow You are here today" ?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tinypillar, May 12, 2006.

  1. tinypillar

    tinypillar New Member

    Since I've been back to work after my medical leave, I've been doing pretty well getting over this flare, but I'm still having bad days. I'm missing a few days per week, but I'm trying my best to get to work even when I'm not feeling great.

    There is one person I work with (not directly, he's in a different area), and he has a son with a disability (not sure what). For whatever reason he likes to stop by my desk and say things like, "hey you are here today", or "I haven't seen you for a while". He doesn't say these things quietly, I know my coworkers can hear it.

    At first I just ignored it, then I went to replying to him like it was a joke ("Yeah, I thought I'd show up because I know you miss me"), and now it's starting to piss me off. I don't know what his reason for saying this to me is, whether he's trying to get a reaction out of me, or find out why I'm gone.

    It's not like we are really friends at work, I don't have any interaction with this this person. I would understand if someone I worked closely with said this to me.

    I just wanted to vent, and see if you guys could help me come up with something to say to him, or if I should just ignore him. I've thought about pulling him aside and telling him what is really going on with me, and how him saying this is A) not helping me and B) starting to make me feel harassed.

    I am hesitating telling him what is really wrong with me because I may want to work in the department he's in someday in the near future. I don't want my "disability" to be held against me (even though legally it can't be, people have biases that they can't get over because they know information about a person). I have not told very many people I work with that I have FM. Only a few know, and those that do, either don't work in my department, or are very kind persons and understand FM or know others that have it.

    I have thought about asking my supervisor how to deal with this (he used to be this person's supervisor as well), but that means telling my boss about my FM, which may or may not be a good idea. I may have to tell him soon due to my absences from work, at least so he knows why I'm gone and that I'm not being a bad employee. I also don't want to run to HR without trying to fix this on my own first. HR does have a copy of my Dr.'s certification that states I have FM, so if it comes down to harassment, I at least have the medical side covered.

    I honestly don't think he's doing this out of trying to be mean to me, but I want it to stop.

    Any suggestions?
  2. ellikers

    ellikers New Member

    If I were in your situation, I would be assertive with him.

    If he said "wow, you're here today" I would respond somewhat sarcastically but still with a smile on my face "And so are you!"

    If he persists by asking you questions or saying something else that feels too personal or nosey, you can ask him back "why did you feel the need to say that?" If he tries to bring attention to you that is unwanted, keep the attention on him and ask why he does it. You can also follow it by asserting how you feel "I feel _________ when you _________ and I would like you to ___________" For example: "I feel judged/upset when you come over frequently and loudly state that I'm at work. It bothers me and I would like you to stop. If you would like to say "hi, it's nice to see you," I would appreciate that much more. Have a great day!"

    If he keeps doing it, or if he responds negatively to your requests to stop the behavior, tell your supervisor. There is nothing wrong with you setting a boundary and sharing your feelings with him. His actions are affecting you and he deserves to know that and be held accountable. As long as you stick to using "I statements" like the example I gave, he has no basis to get you in trouble or act like you're unreasonable. I'd avoid saying "you statements" like "You're being a jerk" "You are being rude" You're disrespectful" etc, but instead stick to how YOU feel and what you need and want (it's harder for anyone to disagree or argue how YOU feel, but people generally get highly defensive and stop listening to what you say).

    Hope that helps!
    [This Message was Edited on 05/12/2006]
  3. Tigger57

    Tigger57 New Member

    I guess "BITE ME" would be inappropriate, huh?

    Well, at least that's what my mind would be saying... and if I know me, my mouth would say it too. It seems like I've lost that filter that in most people is somewhere between their brain and their mouth. You know, the one that makes sure you don't spew out words like, "bite me" to people. Oh, who am I kidding? I never had that filter.
  4. tinypillar

    tinypillar New Member

    Thank you for the suggestion - I will try that. I used to be so good at this kind of thing, finding ways to quiet obnoxious people (or thoughtless people). Since the FM, I'm just not as good at thinking quick on my feet when things are personal.

    It seems I'm losing the filters as well, and have been biting my tongue :)
  5. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    ..."No I am just a figment of your wild imagination and you should not be day dreaming about little ole me."

    That should shut him up...LOL ;)


  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Maybe he wonders if you and his son have the same problem.

    In any case, Ellikers has good suggestions. Sounds like a book I read on assertive, but not aggressive, behavior.

  7. lil_angel1198

    lil_angel1198 New Member

    if he's just trying to be friendly. It sounds like he could be concerned or just "nice to see you" kind of guy. It could be he doesn't mean anything bad by it.

    Remember, when we don't feel well, things that others say can hit us wrong, sometimes they mean well, but it doesn't come out right. Of course, sometimes others are just being idiots too. ;) LOL

    It could be that he's trying to be nice but he's going about it wrong??
  8. suzetal

    suzetal New Member

    appreciate him questioning you.Than tell him if he continues you will have no choice but to turn him in for harassment.

    There are laws against that in the work place.Anything that has to do with you is none of his business.

  9. tinypillar

    tinypillar New Member

    I really appreciate the feedback - I'm slowly trying to get my "people reading" skills back. I used to be pretty good at reading people and sensing what their motives are, but since my Dx I've lost almost all of it (when it comes to office interactions).

    I go back to work tomorrow (my weekend is over) and if he says this to me again, I'm going to ask him why he's asking me. If the conversation continues I'll tell him that it makes me feel uncomfortable because my reasons for missing work are medically justified and I feel like he's invading my privacy/boarding on making me feel harassed.

    I will also tell him that asking me how I'm doing is perfectly acceptable and welcome, as are any other well meaning attempts to show that he cares about my well-being. But, making remarks that are geared towards pointing out my missed workdays are not okay.

    I don't think this person is purposely trying to be mean, if that were the case I'd squash the situation right there. It's possible he's looking for someone that can relate to what he goes through with his son (his son has medical problems, the specifics I do not know). I do know that this person has to miss work because of his son's medical issues.

    The reason I'm even brining this up here is because I want to play this well because I really care about my job and want to advance and I don't want A) other people to get the wrong idea about my attendance and B) the girl that makes a big deal out of nothing (my industry and department is heavily male).

    So thank you everyone, you guys have given me new ways to look at this :)
  10. megchampagne

    megchampagne New Member

    ... it still qualifies as harassment. I.e. I've worked with people who didn't see any problem with making racist jokes, religious jokes, etc., but that doesn't mean it's okay just cuz they think it is.

    He needs to be reported for this type of behavior. I am not kidding. If he doesn't stop, he is creating a hostile work environment. If that makes you so uncomfortable that you can no longer work there, it creates a major legal issue for the company. Your personnel director needs to know about this.

    As for responding to him, well, I'm probably a lot different from most people in this forum since I'm very "out" and honest about what's going on with my body. Even before I got diagnosed, I was not afraid to tell my supervisor "I can't do that again. It made my back hurt so bad that I had to take the day off yesterday. Remember?"

    I know this guy doesn't work directly with you, but I've had snotty remarks from people I work with too, about the "offensive smell" of O24 -- yeah I know, natural peppermint oil is just soooo disgusting, right?

    I've simply told complainers that I have a chronic pain condition and that the spray is the only thing keeping me from crying out in pain. I've explained that if I don't use the spray, I am in too much pain to stay. I think the key is just being calm and informative, rather than aggressive and defensive.

    Next time this jerk says something to you, maybe you can just politely explain that you have serious health issues that you don't need brought up at work. If your explanation gets no response, just ignore him. Literally do not even respond to him at all, ever. Anybody who sees your interactions with this guy should understand.

    It doesn't matter if his son is disabled, if he "knows what it's like", whatever. If somebody I barely knew came up to me and started making jokes about "not being able to do anything", it wouldn't be okay, even if that person was in a wheelchair or on crutches or whatever.

    It sounds like you've made it obvious that his remarks make you uncomfortable. There is no reason why he should be continuing on with this behavior.

    I know what you're going through, and it's hard, but we will both get through this.

    *hands you some ear plugs to use next time this guy comes to your desk*

    [This Message was Edited on 05/14/2006]
  11. carebelle

    carebelle New Member

    I would look him straight in the face and say becareful what I have may be catching and your the first one on the list I might give it to.Then if that doesnt work I'd probably pull him aside and hand him a flyier from your doc with information about FM/CFS and tell him your going to be doing a fund raiser and would like him to be your co-chair if hes like most he will take off real fast.If he agrees go for it lol
  12. Lunatic2

    Lunatic2 New Member

    but can you carry a weapon? LOL!

    he sounds ignorant, therefore-IGNORE.
    (sounds like he knows his comment "bothers" you so don't bother with him.)
    Blessings to you.
  13. morningsonshine

    morningsonshine New Member

    I was kinda thinking the same thing. Sometimes in life we have to put up with behavior that bugs us.

    But's it's hard to judge this mans intentions without really being there, and hearing voice tones, and body languages.

    You may be oversensitive to others motives, because of what your going thur.

    Just a thought.
  14. yamona

    yamona New Member

    I suffer with those coworkers also. I try not to let them see that they get under my skin. I come back with some of these things... So myob., do you need something? Why did you look for me?, do you think about what you say to people?, or just ignore them and look at them as if I didn't understand them. It worked some for a while
  15. TXFMmom

    TXFMmom New Member

    I had a terible automobile accident where both achhilles tendons were torn free at the ankles. I had to have them reattached, and it is among the most difficult of orthopedic injuries from which to recover.

    We had an Anesthesiologist who had a torn meniscus and a scope of the knee and had to use crutches to hobble around on for a few weeks. HE COULD DO THAT, BECAUSE IT WASN'T A SEVERE INJURY AND THEY GAVE HIM ALL KINDS OF ASSISTANCE.

    I was in a wheelchair, with both legs in ballerina casts with legs elevated for eight weeks, then walking casts, but that is a joke. Ever tried to walk with casts on both legs? That was for six weeks. Then, I had to restretch those tendons AND IT WAS THE MOST PAINFUL THING YOU CAN IMAGINE AND REBUILD MY MUSCLES.

    The Physical Therapists told me eighteen months minimum before I could return to work but I worked feverishly and it was PAINFUL, and took a cut in income to return in 51/2 months part time, and then to therapy for two hours every day.

    I returned to work full-time in seven months, and then had to have touchup surgery at the end of the year on a neuroma which had formed, in order for me to use my co-pay and some other things.


    He was dreadful. I spoke with the Chief Anesthesiologist and told him I was NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ABUSE. They thought they didn't have to listen to anyone.

    This guy would start harping at me and I would just walk away. We had to get a heavy box with all these compartments with all these different drugs and meds for every case, based upon what the case was, and so charges were clear for the patient.

    I had stopped at the assignment board to see if there were any changes for me to see before going on to set up my OR, and this guy saw me and started screaming at me about why was I standing there and I was lazy, yada, yada, yada, and I started to just walk away. HE GRABBED ME BY THE ARM, AND IT HURT, AND SCREAMED DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME. I tried to pull away, and when I did, it spun me around, and that heavy box hit him in the knee where he had the operation and I ended up getting slammed into the wall, and my glasses flew off and were broken.

    This guy went nuts, and I thought he was going to hit me.

    He had, however, made the mistake of doing this in front of the head nurse of the Operating Room, six nurses, three attendants, and three Anesthetists and three Anesthesiologists.

    His leg was bruised, but my arm was black and blue from the shoulder down, swelled, and he had broken my glasses and without them, I couldn't read drug vials, and couldn't work.

    The Head Nurse of the Operating Room assisted me to the Anesthesia Office, and the Chief was there and she and I told him either he controlled the guy, AND HE HAD TO APOLOGIZE TO ME IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT AND IN WRITING, OR I WAS FILING ASSAULT CHARGES.


    He did apologize, and they paid for my glasses. In reality, I wanted to give him a shot of succinyl choline, which paralizes people but they are fully concious, and put a part of his anatomy which would hurt in a vise.

    They kept making excuses for the guy, who had EVERY FLAG OF BEING ON DRUGS, which he had gotten addicted to because of his knee, WELL I HAD TEN TIMES THE INJURY HE DID AND NEVER TOOK ANYTHING STRONGER THAN TYLENOL.

    Finally, just a few weeks later, he passed out cold at the Nurse's station and QUIT BREATHING. They had to code him, and breathe for him, but when they gave him a narcotic reversal agent, he woke up and was wilder than a drug addict who received it. HE WAS A DRUG ADDICT, AND THAT WAS OBVIOUS.

    Only then, did the Hospital and the Anesthesiologists properly apologize, and that was because if I had filed the charges against him and the hospital for failing to protect me from this man, his final DRUG EPISODE WOULD HAVE SEALED THEIR FATE.

  16. mom4three

    mom4three New Member

    As a mom of a disabled child I think maybe he is trying to find out why you have been gone and hope you two can get a connection. Maybe have something to talk to. He may be reaching out in a weird way because men do not have friends they can talk to about things like that.

    He probably is not trying to hurt you or piss you off he just is kinda reaching out.
    I know i felt so alone and could have used a friend that might have understood or give me some encouragement in the work place.

    Just a thought.
    Good luck to you:)
  17. tinypillar

    tinypillar New Member

    I asked one of my co-workers who I trust about this man's behavior. Her opinion is that he's a donkey's butt (she used other words) and that he does this to everyone. She told me he gave another person on my team a hard time after he came back from medical leave for not being able to perform his job, and this person was out for severe ear problems - our job is to talk on the phone all day and the headsets made his ears ring and was very painful for him.

    Rick - I do understand what you are saying about over-reacting, and I'm pretty sure I'm not. There are very few things that offend me and I love joking around with my co-workers. This person's behavior just seems very odd to me, and it was close to making me uncomfortable. It's not like he is in conversation distance, he's saying these things from a distance away so at least 10 - 15 people can hear what he's saying.

    The reason I brought the subject here was not so we could all crucify the guy or find ways to get him in trouble , it was so I could get some feedback for ideas to deal with the situation tactfully, and perhaps get some insight as to what his intentions could be.

    If I were nuts I certainly wouldn't be asking :) (in fact I'm asking because I *don't* want to come across as nuts)

    mom4three - That's what I was hoping the situation was, that he was hoping he'd have someone to talk to about his son and is being socially awkward about it. I haven't seen him since I posted this thread, so I don't know if he's on vacation or out to help his family.

    Thank you everyone for your replies and sharing your stories, since the FM new issues arise for us that are working (at least for me) and it helps to have a good sounding board for discussing issues we've never had to address before.
  18. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    Like another post said, it's hard to judge without the whole set of input -- body language, tone, etc., but you sound, now, pretty sure of his 'donkey butt'-ness.

    In that case, my first advice would be to try to ignore him -- to smile slightly and give a mild greeting and go back to you work.

    If he persists, the next time he announces, "Oh, you're HERE!", I would point out that stating the obvious is a recognized form of sarcasm, and most agree that sarcasm has much of its basis in anger. Then I would ask him if you should make an appointment for the two of you to speak with HR in order for him to get something off his chest, although you can't imagine why your schedule would be his business in the first place.

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