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Trouble at work, feeling left out, discriminated, unable to communicate!
December 20, 2005
7:02 pm
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balancesekr
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So, I work with a group of guys in my department. Other departments in the small company have other women, but I am on my own. Every week, we (my department) meet with the CEO and owner sometimes to go over strategy/advertisting/new technology/etc...

Lately, I have really been feeling like the gal in the group. My direct supervisor is male and the other guy I knew before getting the job, we both just happened to wind up at the same place, got hired at almost exactly the same time.

So... turns out the guy I work with was friends with the guy I am dating. This makes things a little weird. I don't trust this guy as far as I can throw him. He is all chummy with my direct supervisor, the three of us sit in close proximity and work that way all day.

I find that when I talk alot and let things be known about myself, I feel uncomfy. I get annoyed at the other guy at work and I just feel there is a competition between us.

He keeps such close tabs on me, what I am wearing, what software I have learned lately, what have I been doing lately... etc... and I don't really trust him.

And he gets along fabulous with my direct sup. They talk all the damn time about tech stuff. And whenever I have a moment with my direct, he comes and sticks his nose in and stands there and gets into the conversation. I suppose I could do the same when they are talking.

My point is, I feel really left out and annoyed. Lately, I just do my work and barely talk. I feel it is a no win situation. The guy is so smooth and knows exactly how to behave so my direct thinks he's the shit. Me, I have crawled into myself. And when I do open up, I get minimal response. I guess I am not one of the guys.

Any suggestions?

December 20, 2005
7:50 pm
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Anonymous
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0.2

I hope it helps to tell you Ive been there.

As far as being in, I think it doesnt help to push or beg, so I dont suggest that. Neither do I suggest to fall into old time women's roles that lead to any glass ceiling/dead end road.

Stick to your ground is the advice I was given when competition was put before me. I didnt find it easy b/c I couldnt be assertive, I also faced a ruthless pusher. That's when I quit work to finish my degree and regret it a lot.

I think you need to protect your work space smoothly. If he comes poking into your stuff, politely tell him you have to concentrate on some report or send some emails or just get to the phone. By smoothly I remember how my gay landlord would come to me very politely and ask how I was doing, etc, and it took me a while to see the chip fall, thats how he started to tell me how he wanted things done around the house. And I even smiled to him from start to end of conversation.

Make your inventory, review your resume and think of your qualities and qualifications, then capitalize on them. if you are there someone thought you deserved to be there. Dont sell yourself short.

And most of all, keep your professional posture, nice attitude and trust your gut feeling about this coworker who's not teaming up with you but being a busy body.

IMHO, from a pilot whod rather teach flying instructions than to fly...

All the best,

December 21, 2005
11:21 am
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balancesekr
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hi sininho,

That's good advice. I am already trying to stay cool, focus on the task at hand and not really worry about a popularity contest. I am practicing a new software package and pushing myself to be better, not bitter. Also, I am trying my darndest to not just think, oh, I am a woman and they are against me. Also, I am trying not to feel bad about feeling bad.

You are right, I am here because someone wanted me here!

I am from the school of thought that you need to protect yourself/identity and personal life from the workplace. My co-worker is very open about everything going on in his life for the most part, he is almost 10 years younger than me.

I guess partially I am looking outside myself for validation.

I am just sensitive to being left out. I even feel a little sad that you are the only one who responded to my post.

Sometimes I just wonder, how much is in my hands. How much do I contribute to the situation at work, and am I being a teamplayer. Even on this site, I think, do I contribute enough? Etc...

I am doing my best to balance things.

Thanks for posting to me.
b

December 21, 2005
11:52 am
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gingerleigh
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Hiya Balance. I also work in a male-dominated environment. I've been here for over five years, and yes there are times when I've felt left out for not being "one of the guys". But I've found that recognizing that fact helps me to capitalize on my strengths and help push the organization forward. What helps is that my role is different from the others that I work with (project manager versus engineer). But what's helped me get over hurdles and humps was just being proactive and conscientious about my job, and frank about areas I was working to improve.

Although I'm fairly closed mouthed about my personal life at work, I am extremely open about my work life. I keep no secrets about what I'm doing when in my office or in a meeting. My job is to do what is right for my organization, not to look good. But I find that by doing the right things that feel right in a business sense, I find that people respect me more and find me approachable.

Oh some of the guys I work with use a bullish approach to getting ahead, and for some of them it works. But equality aside, we must be realistic. A bullish approach from a woman just doesn't work. Sure, we're entitled to use it, but it would be like using a toothbrush to clean a stadium floor. Makes a lot of lather in the area you're working on, but in the grand scheme of things it's dismissed or ignored.

December 21, 2005
12:15 pm
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overcome
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Well, me being the testosterone-flowing caveman-at-times man that I am, I would make sure that this idiot knows how I feel. If he continued to make me uncomfortable,.....well, lets just say I would hope his health insurance covered bodily injury!!! ...lol....

.....seriously, I would talk to your direct supervisor to straighten this situation out. Give that a chance. He he cannot separate his buddy-buddy relationship with this guy, you may need to go to your human resource department. But first give your boss a fair shake and make him aware of the situation.

December 28, 2005
12:04 pm
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balancesekr
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I figured I would pull this post back up.

Basically, the guy who I work with, who I knew before I got the job and who is sort of friends with my boyfriend is why I am posting right now.

He is obviously threatened/jealous of me. Before, one of the managers came over to talk to me. I asked them to wait one minute, I just needed to finish something.

So my coworker decides to say, don't mess with balancesekr, she will tear your head off.

I responded, please don't speak for me. He says, see what I mean.

I take this kind of thing seriously, because I do see it as an attack from him, and I don't expect to be treated that way.

What should I do? i don't think I am over reacting, we determine how people should treat us, and if he says this in front of other people, it opens the door for more abuse.

Thanks,
b

December 28, 2005
12:26 pm
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kathygy
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balance,

I think the first thing to do is to look honestly within for any kernal of truth to the comment and any role you may had in provoking it.

when you said " Before, one of the managers came over to talk to me. I asked them to wait one minute, I just needed to finish something. "
sounds like it was the trigger for your co-workers response.

Do you think you were egging him on with this statement?

it sounds like this comment may have struck a nerve in you otherwise I don't think you would have much of a reaction to it.

I'm not saying it is O.K. to be talked to this way but...

I think the best way to handle it would be with humor, saying something like , 'that's right, I will bite your head off so watch out'

I know that's not very humorful but I can't think of something humorous to say right now.

or I might have said, 'do you feel like have torn your head off?' rather than get defensive.

It sounds like this person wanted to communicate this to you but was very indirect about it.

December 28, 2005
12:30 pm
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kathygy
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balance,

you didn't say anything about the rest of your tread title so I can't respond to that and don't have a full picture here.

Can you say more about feeling left out and discriminated against?

December 28, 2005
12:49 pm
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balancesekr
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hi kathygy,

he wasn't involved at all in the conversation. One of my manager's came over with someone else and they needed to talk with me about a problem. I said, just give me one minute, I just want to finish this.

My coworker from across the room said watch out, she will rip your head off, don't mess with her.

I think he said this because I am a confident strong person. I don't behave in a ridiculous manner. I feel he is trying to make me look bad.

The title of the thread was from last week. There is just an ongoing feeling of discomfort working with him and maybe I am sensitive to this kind of comment because.... I don't know, I feel I get criticized and beat down for being myself.

December 28, 2005
1:20 pm
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balancesekr
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ok, I asked him when nobody was around, so do you feel like I rip your head off. He said no it was just a joke. You are a tough cookie.

I am just sensitive to these kinds of comments because I truly feel that certain behaviors are not encouraged for women. Me being strong makes some men feel intimidated. I don't walk around ridiculous, bossing people around or something, not even close.

It is hard enough for me to ask for what I want and behave confidently, so if someone sits there and says look out, she will rip your head off, I just don't like it and I don't behave that way.

I guess that is where the discrimination I was talking about originally on this thread comes into play. I feel my direct supervisor and the other guy I work with are buds, cause they are guys. I have to be careful not to talk too much because certain joking comments get made and I feel uncomfy and left out cause I am a woman.

December 28, 2005
2:06 pm
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kathygy
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balance,

How did you feel when this guy said you are a tough cookie? I would have asked why he says that.

You have a right to be a strong woman in the work place. Yes, some people are threatened by that.

It will be a lot easier if you let it be O.K. for you to be a strong woman.

December 28, 2005
5:37 pm
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balancesekr
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I felt good but I also felt that tinge of better be careful, don't be too tough. I just feel like it is such a game at work. The other guy I work with is so smooth, he kisses butt really well.

I find it difficult to not look at working with him like it is a competition. We both graduated with the same degree and know each other from school. WE just happened to get hired at the same place and he used to be friends, still is sort of with my boyfriend, so it makes things kind of strange.

December 28, 2005
10:11 pm
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bonni
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My dad has always told me to let the work I do speak for me. Office politics can be very important for success (people want to help people they know who are consistently nice to them) and very distracting. Its important to be pleasant and professional at work - and focus your energy on your work. This guy is distracting you, maybe intentionally, though probably not - just inept attempts at social banter.

I don't know how you can tune him out or the specifics of your situation. He doesn't really know you, so his comments are more about him than you. No one thinks highly of people who are willing to say bad things about others. You can show people more through your actions and your work than anything else.

Hope this helps. And thank you. you made me realize that you don't have to let someone live in your head rent-free. if they aren't contributing positively, you can evict them. don't know how to do that, but I just realized that you can.

December 29, 2005
1:07 am
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camra
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balancesekr, personally I think their maybe some kind of jellousy going on there, this other person seems to me to be jellous about something about you. But you know what I have found, unless someone comes right out and accuse's you of doing something you didn't do ignor them. because you see every thing you do and say always always comes back to you someday, thats just the laws of nature. what goes up must come down..

Trust me it always always does. Ive seen this in my own life many many times. I get treated like this all time time but unless Im accused of something I didn't do, I won't do anything at all.. However trying to runin someones reputation maybe anther story, thats something you can actually sue for.. its called deffermation of caritor.. And its illegal..

camra

December 29, 2005
3:26 am
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angel4U
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Hi balancesekr,

I've been in your shoes somewhat -never with a friend of a boyfriend, but with a friend of a friend and other co-workers. And I also found it frustrating.

Although I can't speak as to why he is being like this, making sligh comments like your co-worker did come across to me as passive-aggressive ... and annoying. I've had the same done to me, and felt like I was dealing with competitive children instead of mature professionals. But I have learned that that's just how some people are ... especially when they are feeling threatened (which happens alot in the work world, and alot when men & women are put in the same position).

I do believe that a little humor is ok, but some people do take it too far ... and it sounds like you are worried that that's what this guy is doing.

My first approach is to ignore them or (one-on-one) ask them politely to stop. (The one-on-one is important as you do not want to embarrass them in front of others as it will usually put them on the defensive.) This way you are at least letting them know that you are aware of their abuse (trying to badger or humiliate someone is abuse in my book) and that you do not like it. DO NOT tell them you think they are doing this because they are jealous or threatened by you (or put any other reasons behind their actions ... keep it focused on YOU)!! If you tell them why you think they are doing it, it will probably increase their insecurity and abuse (I have witnessed this happening).

If it continues or escalates, then he is clearly stepping over your boundaries and not being respectful of you ... and in my book is a VERY immature bully. The only way I have ever gotten passed people like this is to keep my head held high with confidence, and not allow myself to be pulled into their games. Most people grew to respect me a whole lot more for it. Although I have unfortunately worked with people that I believe were so insecure with themselves, they always seemed to need to try to pull me (or others) down to make themselves feel better ... and twisted things to do so.

I have a whole story on a thread from along time ago expressing my frustrations about someone that was like this with me that's too long to go into now. The short of it is that she played these games (she was a master of manipulation & control)for so long until she finally admitted (indirectly, of course, and right before I was getting layed off) that she was threatened by me (her words were "you know as well as I do that you could do my job just as well as I can"). I found it funny because in a friendly conversation a year prior to that (when I had assumed this to be true but said nothing), she out of the blue said "I'm not threatened by you, you know." I responded with "where did that come from??", and received a cocky smile back (???) It all made me feel very uncomfortable being around her.

Anyways, hope I helped somewhat.

Keep your head held high and believe in yourself, balancesekr, and noone can walk all over you. Unfortunately you sometimes have to leave a position to get the respect you deserve, but many times other people (that you may not be aware of) see what others are doing too ... and usually it's the one acting professionally that ends up on top.

Positive vibes comin' atcha,

angel4u

December 29, 2005
3:41 am
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angel4U
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Added thought ... Depending on the situation/person, I have also found that sometimes simply asking them "Is something wrong" helps, too. If they say "why do you ask?", mention that some of their comments came across to you as sarcastic (or something along those lines) and took you by surprise.

Sometimes this helps people open up and talk about an issue they may have with you. Or, if they happen to be angry about something other than you and are simply taking those frustrations out on you (I think we've all been guilty of this at one time or another before), confronting them helps them to see you care enough to say something and may open the door to an apology ... or at least self awareness for them.

In any case, do not take their unhealthy reactions or inability to communicate on as your problem. Your first goal should be to make them aware that you will not tolerate the abuse.

December 29, 2005
12:17 pm
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balancesekr
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wow, I got so many posts. Thank you everyone. I don't have too much to read respond right now but I will later 🙂

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