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in the hoosegow

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I have a quick temper. That is no surprise to those who know me in "real life". I can easily be provoked, especially because I take things seriously. My motto is that things are serious until proven funny. This is all fine because usually people figure this out about me and as I get to know them better, I can distinguish when they're intentionally poking fun and when they're not. Sometimes people take advantage of this, and I can see the humor here, by making the "dude, I'm completely serious here" face and then saying something ridunculuous. Heck, I'm usually the first one to make myself into the butt of a joke.


When someone who knows me, claims to like me, and yet continues to provoke me in a less and less "fun & games" kind of way, how should I respond? It's happened to me before. When I was younger, and the provoker was a guy, I assumed he liked me but didn't know how to handle it. Now I chalk it up to the person having some kind of problem with me that we haven't resolved. When people make fun, they're usually mad about something. What would you tell someone else who was in this position? Say it was someone who you supervise. Would it be different if it were a close friend?

I would say (and have said) that the person should ignore it, unless it's really harming her in some way. Chances are that folks will realize what is going on and the provoker looks like an @ss, rather than the provoked looking like a humorless prig. It's easy to give that kind of advice, but much harder to take. What if the provoker doesn't realize what she's doing? What if it starts to affect work or relationships with others? When do you advise the provoked to get help? Is there anything to be done? When does joking cross the line into creating a hostile workplace?

Obviously I don't have a lot of answers here. The last time this happened to me personally, the provoker was someone I had worked with who then started working for me. It was an awkward situation at best, but I knew the guy had a good heart and we worked through it. I can't help but think it would have been different if he'd been my boss, or been a part of my social circle. [as aside, I ran into him a year or so after we stopped working together and found out that he was an alcoholic--his behavior suddenly made a lot more sense]

Just some thoughts for a sunny Saturday. Now I am headed out to reclaim whatever is left of the day!

Update: I was just reading an article very apropos to this subject. Read it!


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Jealous JP said...

"When does joking cross the line into creating a hostile workplace?"

When you have questions like this in your head, my dear.

Why do people screw each other up so much? What is it in our genes that makes us so darned stupid when it comes to others of the same species? (Question back in your court, bio major!)

At 7:50 AM, Blogger ranger said...

We are highly competitive--for survival (food, shelter, etc.) and for mates. I think that tranfers over into work a lot of the time. Luckily I am not competitive at all!

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Adela c/s said...

If you want I will track the a** down and shoot them in the kneecaps. I'll use a lighter caliber just to play nice.


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