Offensive coworker insults you & says “it’s not a problem?”

Question: 

One of my 30-something co-workers persists in telling me “you look just like my mother.” I’m in my 40’s and there’s no way I could be this woman’s mother. The first two times, I bristled but didn’t say anything.

The third time, I asked her how old her mother is. When she answered, “She’s in her 60s. She had me late in life,” I lost it. I told her I wasn’t that old and not to say that again to me. She said, “It’s really a compliment. I miss my mother. And she could pass for 50. And I don’t ‘see’ age.”

I want to strangle her. Or is this my problem and I need to “suck it up?”

Answer: 

She’s clueless and a poor listener. You’ve said “don’t say that again,” and she argued with you. It’s her problem, only she doesn’t experience it as a problem, and essentially told you that you shouldn’t either.

Before you’re pushed to telling her that if she says you remind her of her mother one more time you’ll spank her, hand her this column so she can see herself in print. She’s told you twice you look one to two decades older than you are. You’ve tried to ignore her, you’ve asked her to stop it and she doesn’t realize she’s being offensive. But she is.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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