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Even red onions have a silver lining
Mon 6th Aug '07 10:55AM
838 Posts
Clara's Avatar
Member Since
27th Sep '04

I just sat through coffee break with some of my colleagues and one in particular, in the space of 10 minutes, managed to attack gay men (unnatural), lesbians (flaunting their abnormal behaviour) and the homeless (filthy drunks). I left them to it before she completed the Daily Mail bingo card of prejudice with asylum seekers.

I tried arguing back and pointing out the fact that her opinions had no rational basis, but I got nowhere. The thing is, I have to sit next to this woman in our office three days per week and I often keep my mouth shut to keep the peace (bad I know), but it is just horrible. The most shocking occurence thus far has been when she wanted to call security because a black man in a suit was sat on a bench outside with a suitcase. He therefore obviously had to be a drugs dealer or handling stolen goods.

What to do?

optical moose
Mon 6th Aug '07 11:09AM
2522 Posts
Diziet's Avatar
Member Since
20th Jul '05
what to do?

complain about her in a loud, angry voice to your boss.

she sounds like a cretin and she needs a damn good talking to at the very least.

Emo Squid
sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Mon 6th Aug '07 11:31AM
624 Posts
Emo Squid's Avatar
Member Since
23rd Feb '07
There's one everywhere (nice stereotype there), unfortunately. Usually more than one - as is the case where i work.
I haden't worked here long before the comments started and i refused to just smile poitely whilst the others laughed, so i left the room. When i realised that this was going to be a regular occurance i decided to have a word in private with the two main offenders, they agreed not to make such comments in my prescence and respected me for speaking up. I was quite fortunate.
My sibling is a student nurse and often complains to me about the "disgusting" level of institutionalised racism and bullying within the NHS (they worked in various other roles before becoming a student), to the point that they're adament they will not be looking for work as a nurse upon completion of their degree.

I lost my toes in a game of blackjack
Mon 6th Aug '07 2:00PM
505 Posts
Mrsham's Avatar
Member Since
5th Jan '07
This is tricky and I'm not totally sure what I'd do in your situation - you don't want to make your office relationships unbearable but at the same time you obviously don't want to let her spout her views without criticism.

One very tentative suggestion: might it be worth subtly trying to canvass your other colleagues' views when the loudmouth isn't around to find out what they really think, without reference to the loud person? You gave the impression the rest were staying fairly quiet, and this person is clearly outspoken and - reading between the lines - pretty domineering. If you can get out of them that their views aren't as extreme, they're less likely to let her get away with it if they know that you know that they think differently (if you see what I mean). Of course they might all have the same views so it might just make it more depressing ... Take it or leave it!

Of course you mustn't feel solely responsible for changing her mind. You can lead a horse to the water etc. etc. I guess just do what you're already doing, which is responsibly criticising as much as you can within the constraints put on you by an office environment and your own welfare

Also worth bearing in mind the law regarding discrimination in the workplace, which might be especially relevant if this person has any say-so in recruitment or wage structure.

If you've made it clear that you have a problem with their views (or even if you haven't), and it's giving you problems / stress at work then I'd say it's completely appropriate to talk to your boss, probably you'd be doing so on behalf of others as well.

EDIT: I'm assuming here she isn't your boss ... I hope she isn't!

Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 6th Aug '07 11:35PM
4213 Posts
General's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
The only thing I can add is that you should make sure you speak to the person before you talk to your boss about it.
If the first they hear about your grievance is via the boss it is more likely to cause friction in the office and your bosses first question might well be "have you spoken to them about it?".

I've worked with a few people who thought it was appropriate to make racist / homophobic jokes and having tried a few approaches my current favorite is just to maintain a very stony face and say "I'm sorry that's not my kind of humor"
It's pretty hard for someone to get arsey with you for not finding them funny and it lets them know where you stand without having to get preachy.

Misses his big brother :(
Tue 7th Aug '07 4:44PM
4597 Posts
Spanners's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
Ooh that's tough. Needs a diplomatic approach for sure to avoid creating lots of friction but it definitely needs something doing about it. You have to remember that with these sorta cretins silence on your part is often viewed as active encouragement. Anything less than outright verbal disagreement usually goes completely unnoticed.
I'm with general, talking to them first and taking it up with the management if there isn't a marked improvement sounds like the way to go.
How can people in this day and age be so damn ignorant? Gah!

Even red onions have a silver lining
Wed 8th Aug '07 9:00AM
838 Posts
Clara's Avatar
Member Since
27th Sep '04
Thanks for all of this, guys! It is indeed rather tricky. Her immediate line manager is a good friend of mine, but she is young, it's her first management role and she's only been in the job a short time. She's doing her best to curb it, but getting precious little support from higher up. Our boss tried his best about 10 years ago to bring disciplinary proceedings and a sacking may well have been in the offing, but an admin problem (I don't know, an unticked box?!) led to that breaking down and now he is in a position where he has no weapons left.

I think that all I can do is make it know that I don't agree every time it comes up. Others will support me, but who knows how long it will go on for. She's due for retirement in a few years!

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